The world is opening up again, and before long, we’ll once again be able to plan trips to “wine country” far beyond our borders.
You can’t travel much farther than Australia, and a wine trip to the land Down Under means heading to the Hunter Valley.
The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region. This is the home of world-class Semillon that has been called “Australia’s unique gift to the world,” wonderful Australian Shiraz that ages gracefully for years, and generations of family winemakers who love to tell their tales.
Add to this a wide array of traditional and contemporary delights — things you’d expect of a world-famous wine region — and you’ll find Hunter Valley wine country to be a vibrant and relaxing place to visit.
There is no shortage of choices as the region is home to more than 150 wineries, dozens of world-class restaurants, accommodation venues (Aussie-speak for lodging) of all types, and a vast range of culinary and recreational activities. Less than two hours from Sydney by car and just 45 minutes from Newcastle Airport, Hunter Valley is easily accessible.
Vineyards were first established in the valley in the 1830s. Since that time, the area has grown both in size and recognition, and most of the original families are still there. Proud of their heritage and of what the region has become, locals have worked together to create a perfect escape.
Visitors can discover the best regional produce — such as cheeses and olive oil — and enjoy the culinary artistry of acclaimed chefs who have their own unique, distinctly Australian styles.
By day, you can walk, ride or drive through the sweeping vine-lined hills. For those looking to explore, there are many aspects of the Hunter Valley unknown to most visitors, and locals are happy to share their “secrets.” Driving just an extra mile can sometimes reveal a cellar door (i.e., tasting room) that may not appear on the tourist maps.
Whether it’s an antique shop hidden down a quiet lane, historic towns, or ancient indigenous sites, there is something nearby just waiting to be discovered. So while a visit to the Hunter Valley can be all about wine, it doesn’t have to be.
When it comes to eating, the Hunter Valley is abundant with choice. Scattered among the vines are numerous restaurants run by winery owners, providing the ultimate in food-and-wine pairing opportunities. After all, who knows a wine’s best pairing partners better than the person who made it?
On a sunny day, you can collect a feast of local produce from the cheese shops, olive mills and wineries, and stop at one of the picnic spots along the road to take in the marvelous scenery.
Although famous for its food and wine, the Hunter Valley also has made a name for itself by producing spectacular events. There are festivals celebrating the local produce, and concerts featuring the world’s top musicians.
In fact, as international travel restrictions begin to ease, one could build a vacation around one of these events.