7 best Hunter Valley wineries
Many wine-lovers head to the Napa Valley in California or the South of France for the world’s best wine, but just two hours by road from Sydney, the Hunter Valley holds its own.
Some of the world’s best vineyards offer fine wine tastings. Not restricted to snobby wine experts, it’s an egalitarian experience where you learn a thing or two from the winemakers.
No obligations, but you could walk out the door with something chosen by your taste buds, not suggested by a label.This eliminates the usual guesswork of purchasing from a bottle shop.
The Hunter boasts around 140 cellar doors, but here’s a selection of seven.
1. David Hook
David Hook is tucked away in the leafy and quaint courtyard at Peppers Creek.
Sitting on rustic barrels in a converted warehouse, travelers survey one of the largest wine tasting lists around. The substantial range isn’t without substance, though, as there’s plenty to satisfy.
The fresh and fruity Sauvignon Blanc is a favorite in the white range: it bursts with passion fruit, yet has a clean and crisp finish. The Barbera is a standout among the reds: deep red in color, with a medium body that has a soft-tannin finish.
David Hook, Cnr Broke and Ekerts roads, Pokolbin, +61 (0)2 4998 7121, www.davidhookwines.com.au
2. Tallavera Grove
Arguably the best drive en route to a vineyard in the Hunter, Tallavera Grove is a definite “off-the-beaten-track” find. Tallavera Grove's rolling hills and vineyards complement the wine.
The wines inside the Tuscan-inspired, bright and spacious cellar door, have been winning awards for years.
Got a sweet tooth? The intensely sweet Botrytis Semillon has spent a short time in French oak to improve its complexity and palate length.
A typical Hunter Semillon carries an area-specific honey taste.
Tallavera Grove is one of the region’s best-kept secrets -- to celebrate the find, wine and dine at the adjoining Bistro Molines.
Tallavera Grove, 749 Mount View Road, Mount View, +61 (0)2 4990 7535, www.tallaveragrove.com.au
3. Hungerford Hill
Family owned and operated, Hungerford has been a Hunter institution for the past 40 years. It’s one of the first wineries you pass as you enter the valley.
Such is the variety on offer, Hungerford has divided its wine collection into different series -- Fishcage, Regional, Icon, Epic, and Collection.
The velvety Tumbarumba Pinot Noir, grown in the Snowy Mountains region, has a deep-ruby color that packs a complex flavor and leaves a lasting impression.
Hungerford’s restaurant, Muse, has a six-course degustation meal with matching wines from the cellar door.
Hungerford Hill, 2450 Broke Road, Pokolbin, +61 (0)2 4998 7666, www.hungerfordhill.com.au
4. Whispering Brook
Pokolbin is arguably the hub of the Hunter, but drive west for 15 minutes and you’re in Broke. This lesser-known area is surrounded by mountains and if anywhere in the Hunter reminds you it’s a valley, it’s Broke.
All locally-grown wines are available from the unpretentious service station in the mini-village. But its picturesque wineries are worth a visit.
Whispering Brook is one the best cellar doors in the area, with sweeping vistas, a stellar wine list and a busy bistro.
The estate’s combination of terra rossa soils (ideal for Shiraz and Merlot) and sandy loam soils (Semillon and Chardonnay) means there’s an exceptional variety of wines on offer, both white and red.
Whispering Brook, 165 Hill St., Broke, +61 (0) 2 9818 4126, www.whispering-brook.com
5. Blueberry Hill
Louis Armstrong once sang that he found his thrill on Blueberry Hill, and this tucked-away estate has six thrilling wines to taste.
Clearly going for quality over quantity, Blueberry Hill makes up for the limited tastings with award-winning wines.
The Shiraz embodies everything the Hunter Shiraz has become known for: complex, spicy, and rich with an elegant long finish.
Blueberry Hill, Cnr McDonald & Coulson roads, Pokolbin, +61 (0)2 4998 7295, www.blueberryhill.com.au
6. Audrey Wilkinson
They say variety is the spice of life, but this is the one vineyard that should be on everybody’s Hunter tour. Why? It’s the Rosé –- yes, good enough for the guys to like.
Audrey Wilkinson's Rosé has a hint of spice with crisp fruit flavors that make this a refreshing and highly addictive drop.
The rest of the selection is excellent too, with special mention to the reserve Shiraz, which many would drink every day if their wallets and health could afford it.
Great views and a cellar door manager -- who jocularly brandishes “no kissing” signs to any lip-lockers -- make this an entertaining stop.
Audrey Wilkinson, DeBeyers Road, Pokolbin, +61 (0)2 4998 7411, www.audreywilkinson.com.au
High-quality wine is what’s made here and there’s plenty for you to try.
Set in picturesque surroundings, the premium-quality grapes (sourced from various plots as well as from other regions) have been finessed to create some of the best wines in the valley.
The Graveyard Shiraz is typical. Each mouthful is reinforcement of why the region is known for its exquisite Shiraz wines: full-bodied, rich and complex. It’s a wine pleaser.
Brokenwood, 401-427 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin, +61 (0)2 4998 7559, www.brokenwood.com.au