With more than 150 wineries in the Hunter Valley, it could take a lifetime to get to know them all. Plan a trip to Australia’s oldest wine region to meet the passionate winemakers, sample world-famous vintages and sip semillon in the sun.
Hunter Valley Wine Region
The first grape vines were planted in the rich soil of the Hunter Valley in the 1820s and today it is the largest wine region in NSW. A warm climate means the grapes can ripen fully on the vine, creating fruity, full-bodied wines. Semillon is the Hunter Valley’s signature variety, a classic white with intense yet refined flavours, refreshing acidity, and notes of citrus and apple. It’s also famous for its shiraz, a rich, bold red that’s made from some of the oldest vines in the world.
Hunter chardonnay is having a moment in the sun, winning a number of prestigious Australian and international competitions in recent years. Verdelho is increasingly popular, a fresh and uncomplicated white that’s been described as fruit salad in a glass. Along with excellent cabernet sauvignon, many wineries are producing red varietals like tempranillo and sangiovese. And, of course, a glass of crisp, cold Hunter Valley sparkling is impossible to resist.
There are three distinct regions within the Hunter Valley: Pokolbin, Lovedale and Broke-Fordwich. Thanks to the varying soils and microclimates, each produces its own distinct wines, and all offer a different cellar-door experience. If you’re not sure where to start, a wine tour led by local experts is a great option. Try Dave’s Tours, Two Fat Blokes Gourmet Tours, , Grape to Glass or Ted’s Tours.
Pokolbin has been the centre of the Hunter Valley wine region from the very start. By the end of the 19th century some of the wine industry’s most famous families – like Tyrell, Tulloch, Drayton, Wilkinson and Lindeman – had established their vineyards in the area. It still has the highest concentration of wineries of anywhere in the valley, as well as a sprinkling of hotels, restaurants and cafes.
Start your wine journey with a tour of the old guard. At Tyrrell’s Wines you can see some of the oldest still-producing vines in the world and taste their famous Vat 1 Semillon. Tulloch Wines is known for its shiraz and has a very family-friendly cellar door, with fun non-alcoholic tastings for teens and kids. Set atop a hill and with a 360-degree view of the vineyards below, Audrey Wilkinson is one of the prettiest cellar doors in the Hunter – set up a picnic on the grass to soak it all in. McGuigan Wines has been a family operation for four generations and more than 100 years. After your tasting, personalise a bottle of your favourite with the engraving machine.
At some wineries, the cellar door building is as interesting as the wines. Mount Pleasant marked its centenary in 2021 and the cellar door is inside the original homestead building, which has been spectacularly reimagined by famed architect Luchetti Krelle. The cellar door of Gundog Estate is inside the historic Pokolbin School House, where they pour boutique batches of resiling, semillon and shiraz.$8 million state-of-the-art cellar door has a large tasting room, outdoor terrace, two restaurants, private dining and tasting areas, a wine museum and a lounge area where you can sit with a glass of Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz.
Fans of dessert wine should head to the stone-fronted cellar door of De Bortoli, known for its Noble One Botrytis Semillon. Drayton’s Family Wines is also known for its sweet fortified wines, port and wine liqueurs. For sparkling, visit Peterson House where the bubbles come in white, blush and red. The striking bell tower of Bimbadgen’s cellar door, perched high on a hill, is instantly recognisable. Inside, you’ll also recognise their sparkling, chardonnay and semillon. If you want to learn about the full grape-to-glass journey, book an immersive two-hour experience at Glandore Estate.
Keith Tulloch Wine is the first carbon-neutral winery in the Hunter Valley. Follow a tasting with lunch at one-hat Muse Kitchen or a sweet treat from Cocoa Nib, both onsite. produces organic, sustainable, vegan-friendly, low or no-sulphur wines, while De Iuliis also has a strong focus on sustainability when producing their small-batch vintages. Harkham Wines is another sustainable winery and no herbicides or pesticides are used on the fruit. They also take a minimal-intervention approach to their wines, which are made with no chemical additions, flavour adjustments, filtration or fining.
Wine House is a good place to kick off your visit to the valley, offering tastings from many leading wineries, mystery wine flights or wines by the glass. Hope Estate is a one-stop-shop for everything that’s good about the Hunter Valley – wine, beer, spirits, food and music. Taste their single vineyard wines, beers from Hope Brewery, vodka or gin from Hope Distillery, or watch a concert in the huge outdoor amphitheatre. For something a bit different, visit Vamp by Lisa McGuigan Wines, a slick tasting room that brings together wine, art, music, fashion and food. Grab a glass and wander along the new Hunter Valley Sculpture Walk that starts just outside.
There are many more popular cellar doors around Pokolbin, including Tintilla Estate, Lake’s Folly, Pooles Rock, Scarborough Wine Co, Ben Ean (formerly Lindeman Estate), Usher Tinkler Wines, Hungerford Hill, Tempus Two and Thomas Wines.
Lovedale is the place to discover boutique, family-run wineries without the crowds. Cellar doors are small and intimate, and you’ll often be able to chat to the winemakers or growers about their latest vintage. At Gartelmann Wines you can have breakfast at the excellent Deck Cafe then get straight into wine tasting at the adjacent cellar door. All the wines here are named after members of the family and the Brittany’s Blanc de Blancs sparkling is a nice way to start the day.
Capercaillie Wines celebrates the Scottish heritage of its founder in the name of the winery and of many of the wines, like the Ghillie Shiraz and the Angus Durif. Saltire Estate is another winery with a proud Scottish connection – Saltire is the name for the flag of Scotland. Visit the cellar door for a tasting, a picnic on the lawn or just to meet the resident wine dog, Max the miniature schnauzer. The vines at de Capel were hand planted in 2008 and today every grape is hand picked to make their single variety shiraz, chardonnay and semillon.
Domaine de Binet produces interesting varieties and blends you won’t find anywhere else in the Hunter Valley, like the popular Le Crazy Coq, a blend of semillon, reisling and gewurztraminer. At Wandin Estate, the beautiful gardens are incorporated into the delicate flowers that grace the labels. The onsite restaurant Wandin Kitchen uses fresh produce from the kitchen garden in its seasonal dishes as well. Time your last stop of the day for sunset at Allandale Winery where you can watch the sun sink behind the Brokenback Range with a glass of chardonnay or rosé in hand.
Centred around the tiny village of Broke at the foothills of the Brokenback Range is the Broke-Fordwich wine region. This is a true slice of country life, where family-run wineries sit alongside rolling farmland, olive groves and pretty mountain vistas. There are around a dozen wineries in the region, all within just a few kilometres of each other. Krinklewood Biodynamic Winery is a good place to begin, a pretty piece of Provence transported to the Hunter Valley. Every aspect of the winery is holistic, organic and sustainable, resulting in healthy soils and delicious wines.
Margan is one of the Hunter Valley's most famous wineries. It’s home to sustainably-farmed vineyards, a rammed earth cellar door, extensive kitchen garden and orchard, and the hatted Margan Restaurant. At Winmark Wines the owners are as passionate about art as they are about wine. There’s a huge outdoor sculpture park, a contemporary art gallery and some very good chardonnay. The cellar door at is set inside an old dairy and has incredible views. They also serve lunch on the weekend and run a pizza and wine bar on Friday nights.
Whispering Brook produces both wine and olives, and its annual Olive Long Table Lunch is one of the Hunter’s most memorable events. Six shipping containers make up the unique cellar door at Running Horse Wines, and they look out over the stables and animals that give the winery its name. is another vineyard that feels distinctly French, with an authentic stone farmhouse, lavender gardens and olive groves. Taste the French-inspired wines in the glamorous cellar door.
WATCH: Meet the winemakers of Hunter Valley
WATCH: Meet the winemakers of Hunter Valley
Christina Tulloch from Tulloch Wines and Geoff Krieger from Brokenwood Wines share what they love about the region.