IT’S BEEN MORE THAN 200 years since the first grapevines were planted in the fertile soil of the Hunter Valley. Today, the Hunter’s verdant plains and sprawling vineyards have made it one of Australia’s most visited wine regions. And for Sydneysiders, the appeal of sampling fine wine while immersed in a landscape teeming with culture and history make it an ideal destination for a weekend escape—and who can blame them?
For those that dabble in oenophilia, the Hunter Valley is essentially hallowed ground. The region’s warm climate is ideal for viticulture, allowing grapes to completely ripen on the vine, producing full-bodied wines with an unmistakeably fruity touch. As far as signature wines go, the Hunter Valley has its world renowned Sémillon, a white variety with notes of citrus, as well as rich Shiraz, which is often still grown on the same vines that were planted in the 1820s. The Hunter’s chardonnay is similarly unmissable, while the region’s specialty Verdelho, Tempranillo, and classic cab sav are all currently enjoying their own moments in the sun.
How many wineries are there in the Hunter Valley?
There are more than 150 wineries in the Hunter Valley, each specialising in different varieties and offering unique experiences. Most of these wineries are concentrated in the Pokolbin area, so you’ll be spoilt for choice around there, while others are scattered around the outskirts of the Hunter Valley.
Can you visit multiple Hunter Valley wineries?
The Hunter Valley region is actually made up of three smaller regions: Pokolbin, Broke-Fordwich and Lovedale. While there’s nothing stopping you from visiting multiple wineries within a single day (most wine tastings will only last 30-120 minutes), due to the distance between each region, if you want to maximise your tasting time, you’ll want to stick to one area.
Each Hunter Valley sub-region produces distinctive wines, thanks to minute micro-climatic differences. Pokolbin is the unofficial capital of the region, boasting the very first vineyards that set up shop in the 1820s. Pokolbin has the highest density of wineries in the Hunter. For a wine-tasting experience devoid of touristy crowds, Lovedale is the best bet, with smaller, boutique wineries. Broke-Fordwich rests at the foothills of the towering Brokenback Range and draws even less crowds than Lovedale. If a family-run winery offering a homely experience is what you’re after, look no further than Broke-Fordwich.
What are the best wineries in the Hunter Valley?
Whether you’re a seasoned quaffer on the hunt for the best Australia’s wine industry has to offer, or a more casual sipper who’s simply looking for some light inebriation over the weekend, exploring the Hunter Valley and its wineries can be an unforgettable experience. To aid in your journey, we present the ten best wineries in the Hunter Valley, each offering a unique blend of heritage, innovation, and, of course, exquisite wines.
Established in 1858, Tyrrell’s Wines is a living testament to the rich history of winemaking in the Hunter Valley, with some of the world’s oldest still-producing vines. With over 160 years of experience, the Tyrrell family has mastered the craft, producing signature wines like the Vat 1 Semillon, which is Australia’s most awarded white wine, with almost 5,500 medals and 330 trophies under its belt. The winery’s timeless cellar door is the cherry on top, providing an intimate setting to savour the superb wine.
Known for an unflinching commitment to quality, Brokenwood Wines has earned its place among the Hunter Valley’s elite. The Graveyard Shiraz and ILR Reserve Semillon are evidence of their dedication. And the winery’s $8 million state-of-the-art cellar door allows visitors to indulge in a sophisticated tasting experience amid contemporary architecture. There’s even an on-site wine museum, for those seeking a historic perspective on the viticulture of the Hunter Valley.
Named after the man who took control of his family’s vineyard at just 15 years of age, who assuredly was a man (we double checked), the Audrey Wilkinson winery sits in perhaps the Hunter Valley’s most picturesque spot. Perched atop a hill at the base of the Brokenback Range, Audrey Wilkinson offers panoramic views of the surrounding valley, setting the stage for an unbeatable wine tasting. As one of the oldest wineries in the region, Audrey Wilkinson blends tradition with innovation, offering distinctive varieties like the Tempranillo and Semillon.
Bimbadgen is not just a winery, it’s an insight into the culture driving the Hunter Valley. With striking architecture, an art collection and an imposing bell tower as the image of the brand, Bimbadgen complements its aesthetic appeal with outstanding wines like the trophy-winning Vermentino and Semillon. The on-site restaurant, Esca, provides the culinary equivalent of the excellent wines.
For visitors seeking a boutique wine tasting at a family-run business, look no further than Scarborough Wine Co. Another winery nestled amongst the foothills of the Brokenback Range, Scarborough specialises in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The panoramic views from the cellar door terrace make it an ideal spot to appreciate both the wines and the landscape.
Focused on crafting exceptional single vineyard wines, Thomas Wines has become synonymous with uncompromising quality. The signature Kiss Shiraz and Braemore Semillon not only exemplify the region’s most popular varieties, they’re some of the best wines in the Hunter, showcasing Thomas wines’ dedication to expressing the terroir of their vineyards.
Tucked away in the heart of Pokolbin, this boutique winery is a hidden gem in the Hunter Valley. Pokolbin Estate Vineyard produces handcrafted wines and gourmet food sourced from local growers, ensuring only the best produce makes it to your table. The Shiraz and dry-grown Reisling—the only of its kind in the Hunter Valley—are standout offerings.
As one of the oldest continuously operating wineries in Australia, Mount Pleasant Wines holds a special place in the Hunter Valley’s vinous history. Mount Pleasant Wines marked its centenary in 2021 and its cellar door rests inside the vineyard’s original homestead. Known for its iconic Maurice O’Shea releases, this estate captures the beauty of the Hunter Valley in every bottle.
Founded by the De Iuliis family, this winery is an example of the passion and dedication passed down through generations of winemakers. The Semillon and Chardonnay are a reflection of their commitment to showcasing the unique characteristics of the Hunter Valley terroir. While the contemporary cellar door sets the tone for a friendly tasting experience.
Combining a modern approach to winemaking with a deep respect for tradition, Gundog Estate has carved its niche in the Hunter Valley. Specialising in Semillon, Shiraz, and Riesling, the winery offers a diverse range of wines that cater to both the connoisseur and the casual enthusiast. A bonus; the folks at Gundog Estate are big believers in sustainable practices, with the aim of leaving the land in better condition than they found it and becoming a carbon-neutral business.