Only 2hrs drive from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is perfect for a weekend trip. Thats exactly what we did when we visited New South Wales last month. After catching the red eye from Perth, we landed at Sydney airport, picked up a car and were in the Hunter Valley and ready to taste in time for the cellar doors to open.
The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region, and the birthplace of Australian wine, with the earliest vines planted in the 1820’s. The region creates fantastic Chardonnay and Shiraz, but its mostly known for its incredible Semillion which is renowned world-wide for its incredible quality & aging ability.
Wine Tasting in the Hunter
Visiting cellar doors in the Hunter Valley is similar to any other wine region in Australia and New Zealand. Most cellar doors request a small tasting fee, which is usually refunded on purchase of a bottle of wine. The Hunter Valley is well set out, with cellar doors bunched together (within walking or cycling distance!)
Some cellar doors that we visited and highly recommend:
- Tyrrells Wines – A must visit is the Tyrrells Cellar door. A winery tour is run each day at 10.30am & 1pm and its well worth the $5 fee, with a tasting at the end. Our tour guide Scott was very knowledgeable, and when we finally stumped him with a question he rang his brother (a winemaker) right there and then to get the answer. That’s customer service! The team behind the cellar door are so obviously passionate about wine. We couldn’t help but buy a few bottles, including the incredible Vat 1 Semillion
- Andrew Thomas – Another fantastic cellar door is Andrew Thomas, where they only make Semillion & Shiraz. The premium tasting showcases the wines from different vineyards, and soil from each vineyard is shown next to each wine
- Hungerford Hill – We were initially attracted to Hungerford Hill by the interesting looking building, but once inside we discovered some super wines. Well worth the visit with something for everyone
- Peacock Hill Vineyard – Stop into Peacock Hill for not only great wine but also a great laugh. This husband & wife team had everyone in the cellar door in hysterics! Make sure you try the Good Company, a dessert style Semillion, reminiscent of Sauternes
- Brokenwood Wines – Brokenwood is another fantastic winery in the Hunter Valley, well worth the visit. The new cellar door is currently under construction, I’d suggest visiting after in opens mid December 2018 as it looks like its going to be incredible!
- Ernest Hill Wines – We almost left when we first pulled up to Ernest Hill Wines, as it looked super busy with a couple of group tours there already tasting. We stopped in anyway and we were glad we did! We were served immediately, had our own private tasting table, and the staff brought out each wine individually and discussed it with us. Despite the groups we never once felt rushed or ignored. Great service! The 2017 Reserve William Henry Shiraz is incredible
- Cockfighters Ghost – The name was what originally caught my eye on this one, but the cellar door is lovely, looking out over the vines & lake. The restaurant in the same building seemed very popular, with a great sounding menu. We were seated for the tasting, opting for the premium option to taste verticals of Semillion, Chardonnay & Shiraz
- Tintilla Estate – This family run boutique winery is located in a beautiful Italian style building. Super wines, especially the Sangiovese & the Patriach Syrah
There’s 2 cheese places in the Hunter Valley, Hunter Valley Cheese Co and The Smelly Cheese Shop. We only made it to Hunter Valley Cheese Co, which is conveniently located next to the McGuigan cellar door. On entry its cheese heaven, with cheeses on display for sale. We opted to try the 5 cheeses for $8pp, and each one was amazing. The Chedder was my pick of the bunch, it was a flavour explosion that everyone needs to try. I’ve eaten many many cheeses, and this Chedder is in my top 5!\
There’s quite a few accommodation options in the Hunter Valley, but if you’re planning on staying over the weekend I’d suggest booking early! We stayed at Estate Tuscany in a Vineyard View room, overlooking the vines. Estate Tuscany is conveniently located just off Hermitage Road, near many other cellar doors. Its the perfect place to base yourself for a Hunter Valley visit. There’s a 1 min walk to two restaurants, Brokenback Bar for casual dining, and The Mill for formal lunch and dinner dining, along with breakfast. The Andrew Thomas cellar door is also located in the same building.
We hope you enjoy the Hunter Valley as much as we did!