The first commercial vineyards in Australia were established on the fertile flats of the Hunter River in the 1830s. Since then, winemakers have been perfecting their craft and today, with 100-odd wineries, mostly open daily, and beautiful scenery to go with it, the Hunter Valley is one of the top tourist destinations in New South Wales.
The Hunter Valley (or “the Hunter,” as it’s also called) is the oldest commercial wine producing area in Australia, as well as a major site for coal mining. Internationally acclaimed wines have poured out of the Hunter since the early 1800s. Though the region falls behind the major wine-producing areas of Victoria in terms of volume, it has the advantage of being just 2 hours from Sydney.
The Lower Hunter, centred on the towns of Cessnock and Pokolbin, has around 110 wineries and cellar doors. Many varieties of wine are produced here, including Semillon, Shiraz, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and pinot noir.
Farther north, the Upper Hunter represents the very essence of Australian rural life, with its sheep and cattle farms, historic homesteads, more wineries, and rugged bushland. The vineyards here tend to be larger than those in the south, and they produce more aromatic varieties, such as traminers and Rieslings.