Australia’s oldest wine region is only two hours’ drive north of Sydney, where picturesque vineyards blanket the sun-soaked hills of the Hunter Valley region. More than 150 cellar doors hide some of the best home-grown semillon and shiraz, as well as many other grape varietals. Here is our pick of the eight best wineries in the Hunter Valley.
This Pokolbin vineyard is a slice of Australian wine-making history. Founded by Edward Tyrrell in 1858, this family-owned winery has been producing award-winning drops for more than 160 years and still remains under the ownership of the Tyrrell clan today. Tyrrell’s stretches across 900 acres of prime wine-growing terrain, with cellar door tastings by appointment only.
Covering 1400 square metres, Brokenwood Wines boasts the Hunter Valley’s largest cellar doors, as well as perhaps its most stylish. The ultra-modern timber building by trailblazing architects Villa and Villa features innovative tasting pods, private rooms and a breezy alfresco terrace with killer views. Brokenwood also makes some of Australia’s most acclaimed wines, such as the Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz and the Cricket Pitch range.
Located in the gorgeous Broke Fordwich region of the Hunter Valley, this winery is as famous for food as it is for wine. The two-hatted Margan Restaurant plates up contemporary cuisine that showcases the produce from its one-acre kitchen garden and orchard, which brims with olive trees, honeycomb and free-range chickens and lambs. The meals pair perfectly with the local wines, which can also be enjoyed in Margan’s rammed-earth cellar door.
Welcome to the first certified carbon neutral winery in the Hunter Valley. A long list of sustainability features, including a program of replanting native vegetation across the vineyard to rehabilitate local biodiversity, means Keith Tulloch Wine produces zero net emissions from grape to glass. Tulloch and his team are also committed to great wines, notably shiraz, semillon and chardonnay.
A quaint sandstone cottage perched on top of a Pokolbin hill, no winery in the entire Hunter Valley can claim vistas that rival this one. Named after the man who took over his family’s vineyard aged just 15, Audrey Wilkinson Winery gazes out over vineyards in every direction, as well as the misty Brokenback Range. The quaint cellar door is accompanied by a museum housing the original wine-making vats dating back to 1866.
A couple of kilometres up McDonalds Road lives a winery that’s almost as Instagrammable as Audrey Wilkinson. The name Bimbadgen means “the place of the good vie” in the local Indigenous language, and a soaring bell tower makes the most of the scenery. Sitting in the shadow of the Barrington ranges, Bimbadgen houses a modern cellar door as well as wood-fired pizzas and picnics to snack on.
This eco-friendly vineyard produces certified biodynamic wines, but Krinklewood Vineyard’s biggest drawcard is the leafy estate that feels like a trip to the French countryside. The Provencal gardens are dotted with European fountains, showy peacocks and free-roaming Limousin cattle. The cool micro-climate of the Broke Fordwich valley suit Krinklewood’s classic semillon as well as verdelho, chardonnay and gewürztraminer varietals.
A huge magpie mural welcomes visitors to this Lovedale cellar door, which was built on the banks of a tranquil dam in 1998. This family business names many of their bottles after members of the Gartelmann clan – try the Jesse shiraz, the Benjamin semillon or the Janette moscato – and partners them with meals at the Deck Cafe, which juts out over the water.
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