The Great Wine Hunt: Explore Australia’s ‘Napa Valley’
Most wine lovers are familiar with lends from regions such as the South of France or the Napa Valley of California. But believe it or not, Australia’s Hunter Valley is making the wine world sit up and take notice. Only a two-hour drive from Sydney, the Hunter region is home to more than one hundred and forty cellar doors, dotted across some of Australia’s most beautiful countryside.
Vacationing in the Hunter
Spending a few days visiting award-winning wineries is a terrific way to enjoy a holiday. Dotted with B&Bs and hotels, the Hunter Valley has accommodations to suit any budget and taste. There are plenty of interesting sights and activities for tourists, ranging from golf retreats and art galleries to hot air balloon rides. But the biggest attractions to the area are the wineries. The region hosts several guided wine tours, but for those seeking a more intimate and relaxed affair, picking up a map from the local tourist centre and hiring a car from Europcar car rental is a must. Without the restrictions of commercial tour itineraries, a self-driven exploration of one of Australia’s greatest wine regions allows for wine enthusiasts to find many hidden treasures along roads less traveled.
World-Famous Wine Labels
The Hunter Valley has several world-renowned wineries with restaurants, gift shops and museums. Considered one of the earliest wineries in the valley, the Lindemans Ben Ean is a sight to see. It’s interesting to note that the McWilliams Mount Pleasant Estate remains the largest, wholly Australian-owned family wine company in the country. Both the Wyndham Estate and the Peterson Family wineries have famous Sauvignon, Reserve Shiraz, Botrytis Sémillon, Reserve Muscat, and Ports that are a joy to sample. But it’s not just the major wineries that worth visiting in the Hunter Valley – be sure to head out to the foothills and rolling countryside to explore the smaller boutique wineries.
Tallavera Grove Winery
For wine lovers desiring an adventure, this is the best winery to explore. This Tuscan-inspired winery has won many awards, particularly with their famous signature wine, the Botrytis Sémillon. Aged in French oak, this complex wine is very sweet, honey-scented and a real delight for the palate. The adjoining restaurant, Bistro Molines, offers a variety of delicious French dishes against the beautiful backdrop of picturesque Mount View.
The Hungerford Winery
Located on the edge of the valley, Hungerford winery offers five very distinct wine collections: the Epic, the Icon, the Regional, the Collection, and the Fishcage. Their restaurant cleverly provides a six-course gourmet meal to match wine samples from each collection. The Hungerford’s most famous offering is their Tumbarumba Pinot Noir. Produced from grapes grown in the Snowy Mountains, it is a rich, velvety, ruby-colored wine.
The David Hook Label
A tour at the famous David Hook winery will treat you to an impressive tasting list. One of the winery’s most successful offerings is their Sauvignon Blanc. It delivers a fresh and fruity experience with a hint of passionfruit. David Hook also provides a stunning treat for red wine lovers too. Their dark red Barbera wine has a medium body with a soft-tannin, velvety finish.
Whispering Brook Wines
Situated in the most idyllic site for wine production, Whispering Brook offers an impressive selection of red and white wines. Surrounded by three hundred and sixty degrees of unforgettable panoramic views, this exceptional winery produces Merlot, Shiraz, Sémillon and Chardonnay, all with hints of the tell-tale Hunter Valley honey flavor. The establishment also offers a terrific bistro that showcases some of the region’s finest produce.
Blueberry Hill and the Brokenwood Wineries
Blueberry Hill winery is a small treasure. Of the six wines they produce, their most successful is the Shiraz. It is a perfect example of why Shiraz produced in the Hunter Valley is so famous – spicy and rich, with a deliciously long finish. A little further down the way from Blueberry Hill is another hidden gem. The Brokenwood winery’s Graveyard Shiraz is another unforgettable, full-bodied treat.
Considered the birthplace of the Australian wine industry, Hunter Valley is a wine lover’s playground. The region is home to famous labels such as the McWilliams, Wyndham Estate and McGuigan, but some of the most spectacular wines are found in darling little wineries hidden from the main road. Embarking on a self-guided tour to investigate the sights and delights of the area is an interesting and exciting way to explore and unwind.
photo credit: winemag.com, of jughead_jones/flickr.com