Hunter in Brief
In 1823 about 20 acres of vineyards had been planted on the northern banks of the Hunter River, now known as Dalwood & Gresford area. With the arrival of viticulturalists James Busby who had a collection of 500 vine cuttings from his collections and private plantings contributed to the establishment of Hunter Valley’s claims to viticultural fame. By 1930s, the Pokolbin area built a reputation for quality wine production and number of qualified winemakers improved the Hunter Valley’s reputation in New South Wales. Since then, Hunter Valley has been one of Australia’s most well-known wine region. Within the Hunter region, there are over 150 wineries producing a wide array of exceptional wines reflective of their origin. This is where the early vineyard history began to modern vineyard history. It is a special place to come and enjoy the wine industry.
Believe it or not, Hunter Valley Region produces the best wine in Australia. In this northern part of Sydney, away from the bustle and hustle of city life and famous iconic architectural structures like Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, you will find Hunter Valley Region. This region is a place where you can still taste the real wine in New South Wales. As a true beer drinker with very little knowledge about wines, it was time to know more general knowledge on wines. When the opportunity came to visit the Hunter Valley Winery Region, I immediately picture myself in a cosy cottage sipping on a glass of vintage wine next to a crackling fire. For a near perfection, I went on a wine tour, not only to taste various wines and meeting other like-minded people but a great way to meet grape-stained winemakers. It was all about being educated and learning more about the regions rich winemaking histories as well as appreciating the fine art of wine.
The Hunter Wine Region, only a two-hour drive from Newcastle, runs through the heart of Maitland depending on the route, the tour takes you. The regions unique climate and decomposed granite soils help produce award-winning wines and fresh seasonal produce. Behind all its beauty is a passionate community full of friendly, family-run businesses and dedicated farmer committed to retaining its reputation as New South Wales premier wine region. Staying in Maitland, the drive to Hunter Region winery was only thirty-minutes drive away. Without having to drive, the tour driver picked me up before others. Being new to the area and the first to jump onboard before others, I was on a sightseeing tour as we picked up the rest of the wine tour enthusiastics along the way. The tour driver who has lived in the region most of his life was brilliant from the first minute. He was very chatty, telling jokes with a great sense of humour, showed great enthusiasm and showed interest in the fellow wine tasting enthusiast as well as educating us with very informative knowledge about the Hunter Valley region in general.
The road trip to Hunter winery was effortless. It was basically straight the entire way. The landscape changed instantly from a straight highway surrounded by infrastructure to open fields of vineyards. We automatically soaked up the rural views and fresh air. The Hunter Valley Region winery is a real treasure.
The Wine Trail
Within minutes, we were on the steps our first winery estate. Our first vineyard stop was a family owned windery, just a short drive away as we enter the region. It was quirky, small and the vines at first glance did not look all too impressive until we stepped inside. It was everything we could have hoped for. The path leading to the entrance to the tasting room lead us to believe that this would be a disaster but we were wrong. The wines were absolutely delicious and right next to the vineyards was a large open deck overlooking the mountains. This was a great start to my wine-tasting tour adventure.
Despite being a true beer-lover, I quickly learned that I didn’t have to be to a wine connoisseur to enjoy a wine tasting tour. My wine tasting tour for the first time, my expectation was low and I wanted to learn more about the wine and simply to have a good time. At first, I attempted the ‘look, smell, taste and conclude’ approach before hearing the story behind each bottle. Most of the wineries visited all have their own unique flavours and specially-designed to pair with different meals. They explained how the wines were done from how they were grown to the finish product seen in the shops for customers to purchase. They also explained how temperature plays are vital role in determing the production of the wine. Without delay, many of us jumped into the tasting of variety of wine products that were displayed for us to taste along with few nibbles. Many of our wine tasting bud worked instantly and within few minutes we were tasting more and more of the wines.
As I tasted reds, whites, sparklings, sweet wines and chardonays I was marking which bottles I would buy for my best friends. Each taste reminded me of a different person, which is why each bottle is personally named after the grandchildren in the vineyards family tree.
After trying few wines, deep down I knew I would fall in love with the food. On our third and fourth visit to vineyards, things even got more better for us. The quality of wines, the decor were fun and wines even taste more delicious.
At Mt Pleasant vineyards, where we had our luncheon as part of our tour package. It is one of the largest family own wineries in Hunter Valley region which produces thousands of cases of wine each year. The food and wine provided was absolutely delicious and the meals were huge and I couldn’t stop eating. There was plenty of wine to consume. Having lunch in this idyllic setting over-looking the vineyards was a perfect location and it couldn’t been any better than this. I was totally mesmerised by the vineyards and how this fruits we know are produced and turn into wine that are sold to wine outlets for anticipated wine lovers and potential customers.
The Last Taste
When we reached our last stop at the elegant and gorgeous Tulloch Vineyards which was my favourite, the sunset and the temperature dropped. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Unfortunately, I didn’t any pictures of the tasting room and the selection of wines. However, by the time, we got to our last tasting of the wineries, the wines were starting to kick in and everyone on the tour were more interested in chatting with each other than actually tasting the wine. We ended the day with a tour and tasting of the cheese factory – The place that everyone talks about. It was a fantastic way to end our tour.
As the afternoon sunlight waned, it was sadly time to head back to our various accommodations. It was too bad we couldn’t head back to Hunter Valley the next day for the big party. But I know I’ll be back.
In every wineries, we visited, the hosts were excellent and very knowledgable in what they were presenting to us. Without a doubt, Hunter Valley produces some of the Australia’s finest drops and my visit to their terroir was an absolute pleasure. What a thrill it was to go on a wine tour. It was absolutely entertaining, diverse and informative. Wine tour was a great way to enjoy the vineyards of the valley and as well as gaining an insights into wine making, meeting passionate makers and enjoying a glass in their own idyllic settings. All in all, it was a fantastic full-day wine tour in the Hunter Valley. I would certainly be very happy to do it again – without a doubt, I am now hooked on the wine tasting tours.
Getting around and where to stay?
Getting around in Hunter Valley is easy and all wineries are within reach with plenty of spaces. Most vineyards have places to eat and have very good restaurants from fine-dinning to casual style places.
There are various types of accommodations in the area to suit all budget from camping grounds, caravan parks to old vineyard cottages to guesthouses, as well as retreats and luxury resorts right next to the championship golf courses with mesmerising views. Most old cottages that are made up are absolutely great place to stay to enjoy the authentic Hunter Valley experience.
As I look back at the tour, spent wine tasting in lovely Hunter Valley Region proved my early convictions wrong. Not only is this rugged landscape lovely but the mix of quirky to elegant vineyards were definitely worth a visit
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Categories: FOOD & WINE