Carefree in Hunter Valley

Unplug, unfurl, unwind: It’s Australia’s oldest wine region, but the Hunter is also a popular destination for partygoers of all ages

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For wine lovers and foodies alike, Hunter Valley offers the ultimate getaway. Leave behind the hustle and bustle of Sydney streets for the warm embrace of the countryside and all its humble offerings, promising a feeling of freedom like never before.

With over 150 cellars to take you on an unforgettable wine journey, the Hunter Region is one of the state’s premier spots to give in to your wild side.

Just two hours outside of Sydney and 45 minutes from Newcastle, this destination is popular with all age-groups – youngsters, seniors, partygoers alike who are looking to make some memories. From wine tours and chocolate tasting to hot air balloon rides and horse riding, it holds something special for everyone.

A weekend in Hunter Valley

As you hop onto the M1 motorway following the exit signs to Cessnock, you’ll get a chance to take in the sweeping landscapes that have travellers gushing about Australia’s oldest wine region. It’s a spectacular drive there with plenty of lush vineyards along the way to give you a glimpse of what Hunter Valley has in store.

Ben Ean, formerly Linderman' Estate.
Ben Ean, formerly Linderman’ Estate. Source: supplied

To start your day right (and perhaps line those stomachs at the same time), we suggest starting with breakfast at one of the area’s many cafes. A bubbly breakfast at Restaurant Cuvee is perhaps a rite of passage now for Hunter Valley visitors.

Then, for the wine connoisseurs looking for adventure, it’s time to hop on to one of the many tasting tour buses that will take you to some of Australia’s most distinguished winemakers, including Tyrell’s Wines, Cockfighters Ghost, and Tulloch Wine in Pokolbin; Gartelmann Wines and Lucy’s Run in Lovedale; and Winmark Wines and Krinklewood Vineyard in Broke.

wine hunter valley
Boydell’s Cellar Door and Restaurant. Source: supplied

For the perfect sunset shot to complete an Instagram-worthy day of wine tasting, head over to Allandale Winery in Lovedale to take in the stunning views. There’s truly nothing like watching the sun set over the luscious landscape with a crisp Semillon in hand, an iconic wine that first put Hunter Valley on the map.

And if wine isn’t quite your alcohol of choice, there are tons of breweries like Hope Estate or Hunter Beer Co, promising craft beers and ciders, all made on site. For something a little stronger, Hunter Distillery is a certified organic distillery that produces a top range of spirits – including a special chilli vodka that comes with a warning, though it might be considered mild for our South Asian palettes.

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Wine tasting at Scarborough Wine Co. Source: supplied

Of course, there’s more to Hunter Valley than just drinks as the region boasts of many hatted and acclaimed restaurants. For dinner options to soak up all that divine wine at the end of the day, Blaxland Inn serves up delicious steaks for dedicated meat lovers. Or perhaps Yellow Billy, the new kids on the culinary block, that focus on cooking over fire.

There are always spectacular views to enjoy with your meal at Emerson’s Café and Restaurant, or for a fine dining experience, head over to Circa 1876, EXP Restaurant, or Hunters Quarter. There’s no dearth of cuisines on offer here, you simply have to take your pick. Be warned though, that when between the months of March and May when tourists flock to the valley, it can be difficult to get a table anywhere without prior reservation.

As the day winds up, settle in for a good night’s rest at any of Hunter Valley’s fantastic accommodation options. Whether you pick spa resorts and boutique hotels like Chateau Elan and Spicers Vineyards Estate or romantic villas and country estates like Casa La Vina and Hermitage Lodge, you’re only ever a few minutes away from the lush Hunter greenery.

The next day, we highly recommend getting into the local produce and food tasting of this award-winning wine region. Don’t forget to check out the many cheese and chocolate tastings that are equally worthy of praise (and pair so well with your wine!).

If you’re able to visit over May and June, you simply must make a pit stop at the Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival.

hot air ballooning

Now, for a different taste of freedom, there are plenty of activities that will thrill the whole family. Horse riding along the tranquil countryside is an understandably popular treat, as is a hot air balloon ride from 2,000 feet off the ground. And if that wasn’t entertaining enough, getting to feed wallabies or hold a reptile at Hunter Valley Zoo isn’t likely to be forgotten by the kids any time soon.

At Hunter Valley, you get to embrace the freedom of a countryside getaway to make some amazing memories with your loved ones. And best of all, you can do it with a much-needed glass of wine in hand.

For more information www.visitnsw.com/feelnew

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