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Enjoy a taste of the good life in the Hunter Valley. With more than 150 wineries, top class restaurants and award-winning menus, an irresistible weekend awaits.
1. Wine tastings in Australia’s oldest wine region
In a game of word association, wine tasting always follows “Hunter Valley”. As the country’s oldest wine region, Australia’s earliest pioneers founded their vineyards as far back as 1920. Dozens of established, family-owned wineries still operate today and if you want to visit the best of them, hire a car for a round-trip self-drive from Sydney. Here are a few lip-licking wineries to tempt you onto the wine route:
Tyrrell’s Vineyards: Makers of the iconic Vat 1 Hunter Semillon, and bursting with as much history and character as it is ripe grapes.
Tinkler Winery: As much as we like the name, we’re also fans of the vineyard’s beautiful wooden bar. Lean against it and sample wines produced by the Tinkler family for over a century.
Macquariedale Organic Wines: Hats off, because making organic wine is a whole new kettle of fish. Sit in the Mediterranean style garden, soaking up dazzling Hunter Valley views and then buy some home-grown olives to complement your vino.
Lake's Folly Vineyard: Australia's first boutique winery, and one that set the bar very high for those who followed. Talking of bars, ask to sample their two flagship wines, a Cabernet blend and Chardonnay.
2. Fine dining at Muse Restaurant
A dining experience you really shouldn’t miss when visiting Hunter Valley, Muse Restaurant at Hungerford Hill Wines is a must-do for foodies. Boasting two Chef Hats, the kitchen serves both five and six-course tasting experiences (day dependent) as well as specialities off the a la carte menu. Cuisine is contemporary, but heavily influenced by classic French flare, and expert sommeliers are on-hand to talk their guests through every wine pairing; varietals which are expertly matched to heighten the flavours of your food. There is nothing brash about Muse, the décor, along with the service, is perfectly understated. Bravado isn’t needed when the cuisine alone speaks volumes.
Find it: 2450 Broke Road, Hunter Valley, Pokolbin.
3. Chocolate and wine tasting
We can read your mind. You’re thinking, hang on a wee moment there, House of Travel. Are you actually saying I can combine chocolate tasting WITH wine tasting?
Yes we are. In fact, we’re saying you can sample both locally made artisan chocolate with award-winning Tulloch Vineyard wines. Not only that, but you get five (large) chocolates and five glasses of various wines, served in a private seating area or on a pretty balcony overlooking the scenery. All for an exceptionally reasonable $20AUDpp. Tulloch call it edu-tainment; a unique hybrid of education and entertainment. We call it dying and going to heaven.
Find it: 638 De Beyers Road, Pokolbin, Cessnock.
Instant Inspiration! If you're starting out from Sydney, Click Here for details on Sydney's most photographic coastal walks. All of them are worth taking your body stilts out for!
4. Hot air ballooning over the valley
Is there any better way to start the day than soaring across Hunter Valley in a hot air balloon? Of course, the 3am wake-up call might make you scowl, but watching the sun rise and soak the land in light will replace every grimace with a grin. It’ll take a good 40-minutes to pump the balloon full of heated air, but this is wonderful in itself, then it’s time to jump in the basket, take a deep breath and take off. Once you’re gliding, noise all but vanishes; a serenity and peace exists up here that the ground cannot emulate. Enjoy spectacular views of rolling vineyards and various hot air balloons drifting before a rising sun. Once descended, a tasty Champagne breakfast awaits at Peterson House winery. Specialising in a very drinkable sparkling wine, raise you glass and toast your latest bucket-list tick.
Find it: There are various hot air balloon companies in Hunter Valley. We recommend discussing and booking with your consultant before you go.
5. Wine and cheese tasting
More wine please. And this time, why not (wine not!) add a chunk of cheese into the mix. At Scarborough Wines Gillards Road Tasting Room there's a complementary cheese platter added to your wine tasting. That's because the vineyard is proudly family owned, and as every family knows, home is where the cheese and wine is. The hosts welcome every guest warmly and invite visitors to sit at a lovely table with fantastic views across the winery and Hunter’s Brokenback Mountains. Enjoy a bespoke selection of cheese as well as an introduction to the vineyard's various wine types.
Find it: 179 Gillards Road, Pokolbin.
6. A party for your senses at Hunter Valley Gardens
Step into a world of colour in the heart of Hunter Valley. Side-stepping the vineyards, Hunter Valley Gardens chooses to nourish a thriving plant kingdom instead. With 10 themed gardens highlighting the very best of our planet’s flora, walk from Oriental Garden, complete with a Japanese pagoda, to the Italian grotto, infused with so many orange and olive trees, lavender and herbs, you’ll think you’re in Tuscany. While the vineyards might titillate your taste buds, Hunter Valley Gardens is a surprise for both your eyes and your nose. Venture through the aromatic rose garden and any number of immaculately manicured terraces before nipping into The Garden Terrace cafe for a quick bite. Or, if you’re after something a little feistier, on-site Harrigan's Irish Pub hosts live Irish music every weekend. You really can experience the entire world in one day at Hunter Valley Gardens.
Find it: 2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin.
The Hunter Valley is just 45-minutes by car from Newcastle Airport or two hours from Sydney, so pack your appetite, tell your partner (optional) and get ready for non-stop food and wine.
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