Having grown up in South Africa and studied in Cape Town, a weekend in Australian’s wine country was top of the list for a weekend away. Hunter Valley is 2.5-3 hours from Sydney so perfectly manageable for a weekend (long weekend if possible). We were lucky enough to be joined by one of my best friends Ali and her boyfriend Steven to explore all the region had to offer.
Australia has over 60 wine regions with each area having its own speciality. Hunter Valley is actually the oldest wine region in Australia. We visited in winter but I’d love to go back in different seasons to tick off more of this famous valley.
Wineries to visit
- Audrey Wilkinson – for great wine and one of the best views in the valley – recommended to make this one of your last stops to enjoy the sunset
- Brokenwood – one of the newer venues with a great selection of whites
- Tulloch Wines – for the tastings and charcuterie board
- Keith Tulloch – (different to Tulloch above) is a beautiful setting and if you’re after a really nice lunch, their restaurant Muse is great place. They also offer a chocolate and wine pairing – what’s not to love?
- Vinden Wines – one of the prettiest tasting venues I’ve visited
- Krinklewood – biodynamic farming, lovely wine tasting with cheese platters in a cute courtyard that could be somewhere in Europe
Other recommendations that we have yet to visit;
- Peterson House – famous for their Pink Blush Sparkling
- David Hook– apparently a bit of a hidden gem, set amongst quaint barn-style shops and cafes offering some award winning wines
- Piggs Peake – a quirky venue that’s high on the list for next time
- Pepper Tree wines
- Tempus Two– I’m a fan of their bubbles already
- Allandale Winery – another great sunset spot
- Usher Tinkler Wines
- We stayed at this wonderful airbnb in Polkolbin – perfect for a winter getaway and close enough to the action. Polkolbin and Cessnock are great bases for a stay in the Hunter Valley.
- Spicers Retreat – would love to stay for a special occasion
- Audrey Wilkinson has some lovely cottages that we saw when we visited the estate if you are in a bigger group
- Muse Kitchen – bistro style cuisine in a relaxed and laid back setting
- Goldfish – a great spot for lunch if you can get a spot out under the vines
- Verandah restaurant – we stopped here for a tapas style lunch during our Grape Mobile tour as it was on Calais Estate, one of our stops
- Café enzo
- Matilda Bay Brewhouse or the Hunter Beer Co for when you want an alternative to wine
- Restaurant Botanica at Spicers Retreat for something special
Things to do
- Grape Mobile bike hire – I could not recommend this more. You choose a bike from their wide selection and visit some great wineries that you wouldn’t otherwise visit – all within cycling distance from each other, it makes for the perfect day out. Everything is arranged for you from pick ups to wine collections etc.
- Cheese tasting – there are a few options for this in the valley, we visited the Hunter Valley Visitor centre but Hunter Valley smelly cheese shop is another recommendation
- Chocolate tasting at Hunter Valley chocolate company or Keith Tulloch Wines
- Hunter Valley is host to many international musicians and concerts – check out what’s on when you are visiting or plan a visit around an event – usually hosted at one of the bigger estates.
- Visit the smaller sub regions of Hunter Valley like Broke and Wollombi
- We didn’t use this but if we were there for another day, the Ihop Hunter Valley is apparently a great way to get around or choose from one of the many wine tours like Two Fat Blokes
For more inspiration visit
- Conde Nast Traveller
- Gourmet Traveller
- Sitchu – full of amazing recommendations
- Australian Traveller – for an off the beaten track perspective
There’s always time for a glass of wine