If you’re visiting the beautiful Hunter Valley wine region and want to get your hands (and taste buds!) around the certified “good stuff”, then this is the guide for you!
The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region and today boasts over 150 winery destinations for our welcome visitors to try. From humble beginnings in Semillon and Shiraz, the region still does our classics well, but we also range out into some amazing Chardonnay and Verdelho. There is even an emergence of European styles growing successfully here including Southern Italy’s Vermentino and Fiano varieties, which still carry the hallmark of a Hunter white being crisp and light with a beautiful dry finish. If reds are more to your liking Spanish Tempranillo and Italian Sangiovese are also producing beautiful wines in the Hunter. Basically, there is something for everyone!
With so many varieties and destinations to consider it can be hard to know where to start, so we have put together a run-down of the best places to visit for an award-winning wine experience. Luckily, you can plan your visit to some of the Hunter’s favourite destinations across Pokolbin and Lovedale with our Hop-on-Hop-off tours!
(Hop 1 – Lovedale and North Pokolbin Route)
As well as a Cellar Door located in the charming colonial-style building built from convict cut bricks and solid timber bridging beams, Calais Estate offers sweeping views over their vineyard and Brokenback Ranges. Here you can taste everything from classic wine varieties, to a range of hand-crafted sparkling wines made in the French traditional method. With their cellar door awarded the ‘Best Cellar Door’ in the Lower Hunter Business Awards for five consecutive years, this is one not to miss!
(Hop 2 – Lovedale and North Pokolbin Route)
The smell of roasted coffee, toffee, sweet raisins and a touch of lemon-peel bitterness will draw you in as you arrive at De Bortoli. These are the aromas of the award winning Black Noble. As the world’s only fortified wine made from the botrytis grape, this wine was the recipient of a gold medal in the highly respected ‘2019 Global Fortified Masters Blind Tasting Competition’.
(Hop 3 – Central Pokolbin Route)
Grab your friends and indulge in Hungerford Hill’s boutique wine tasting experience. Tickle your tastebuds with award winning wine by treating yourself to a bottle of St Vernay Vineyard 2017 Shiraz, awarded 90 points and 4 stars by the ‘Gourmet Traveller WINE Expert Panel’! This light wine has the perfect balance of light peppery fruit, perfect for pairing with a meal from the acclaimed Muse Restaurant offering some of the finest dining in the area with its 2 Chef Hatted status.
(Hop 5 – Central Pokolbin Route)
Hop off at Roche Estate and try the Uno Series at the Tempus Two Cellar Door! Winning the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion Competition in 2016, the Uno Series represents the very best of Hunter Valley winemaking. Luxurious and elegant, this series comes as a classic medium to full bodied Shiraz. Its perfumed red-berry aroma will encapsulate you, while its long lingering finish will leave you wanting more. After wine-tasting, there is a range of award-winning cheese on offer at Smelly Cheese Shop next to the Tempus Two Cellar Door. Or you can head across the road to McGuigan Wines, who have won International Wine Maker of the Year a record four times! Also across the road is Brokenwood who won 2019 Cellar Door of the Year in the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Awards. This stop is a great place to plan for lunch with Oishii, The Wood Restaurant, and Goldfish restaurants all within reach.
(Hop 13 – Central Pokolbin Route)
Boasting a 4.5-star rating from James Halliday, Hart & Hunter celebrates their 10-year anniversary in 2019. Their grapes are sourced from highly regarded Hunter growers and they have a strong emphasis on single vineyard wines and small batch processing. This approach has served them well with their wines winning a multitude of awards including the ‘Marshall-Flannery Trophy’, the ‘H.J. Lindeman Trophy’ and accolades from the ‘Hunter Valley Boutique Winemakers’ Show’ in the past.
Relax and take in the views in the Courtyard Cafe while sipping on Bimbadgen Estate’s award winning 2017 Semillon. With a fragrant citrus blossom and lemongrass scent, mixed with a weighty lemon and lime fruit on the mid palate with a fine acid backbone, you’re sure to leave wanting more. This is a style of Semillon which has seen the Hunter region gain international recognition and popularity.
(Hop 15 – Central Pokolbin Route)
With an esteemed win of the James Halliday 2018 Chardonnay Challenge – Best Hunter Valley Chardonnay, you mustn’t leave the estate without trying this Winemaker’s Reserve Collection. This collection encapsulates regional and vineyard provenance, winemaking skill and integrity, as well as the essence of the First Creek style resulting in exceptionally rare and special wines. Greg Silkman, owner of First Creek and highly regarded industry leader, won last year’s Hunter Valley Wine Legend Award if you needed any more proof that First Creek is a stop not to miss!