For overseas visitors there is always the risk of trying to do or see too much and then you miss other things. The concept of this series is to help you decide what to do and see nearby to the city. For visitors from large cities, Australian cities will feel empty and you will question why people would need to escape these empty urban environments. The wide open spaces nearby are awe inspiring and should not be missed.
The Hunter Valley is a couple hours’ drive from Sydney. In a previous life when I used to work in 5 star hotels we would send guests there for a day trip. It may be a long day but it can be done. Tours leave at around 6.20 or 7.00am. If you choose to drive yourself you should be aware that is possibly the best time to get on the road to avoid traffic and get the most from your day.
I highly recommend Gourmet Getaway Tours. They run a fabulous day tour that connects food and wine and offers a great drive through what is a great section of the Aussie bush. The tours are run by a chef and he is a great tour guide. The tour starts with a coffee at Sydney Fish Market and then breakfast by the Hawkesbury River. After returning to the bus you continue onto Wollombi where you will have the first tasting of the day while you learn to roll sushi. The day continues with tasting Australian iconic dishes like kangaroo and barramundi while you partake in Australian wine tasting. I can’t recommend this tour enough.
If you decide to take the Hunter Valley on alone the following places are where you should prioritise your trip. Before I get to that I need to confirm you will not be able to get to the Upper Hunter of the Barrington Tops in a day trip.
Scarborough Wines has some impressive wines but far the best is their chardonnay.
Tulloch Wines I recommend the sparkling Shiraz.
Hungerford Hill home to the Muse Restaurant and an iconic cellar door. They are out of the main hustle and bustle
Tempus Two – all I need to say is you cannot leave without tasting their wines. I love Tempus Two.
Tyrells Wines is a family owned vineyard. I like that they do not have big business behind them and they have maintained some of the rustic atmosphere that a wine region should have.
I haven’t picked the wineries based on who makes the best wine or has the best cellar door,. I have given you an array of Hunter wines that have cellar doors that I think are friendly to families. Of course, this may change depending upon the time of year of your visit and the number of people when you visit.
There are of course other things to do in the Hunter other than wine. There are many local food delights. There is a great golf course and wonderful day spas. Hunter Valley Beer Company, Hunter Valley Chocolate Company, Bunna Bunoo Olive Grove, Pukara Estate, Binnorie Dairy (If you’ve not tried Labna previously I recommend you do. I love it!), Hunter Belle Cheese, Hunter Valley Cheese Company, and the-popular Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop. Try to fit a visit in to Lovedale Smokehouse Gourmet Pantry and Cafe for amazing array of charcuterie and pate.
There is of course the Hunter Valley Gardens which are great for a stroll. Personally I would pick a path around Wollombi and get out into the natural bushland, but you may be time poor. The gardens are kid friendly and often have ice rinks and other attractions for kids during the holidays.
However you choose to see the Hunter, you will love the area and it is a full day out from Sydney that will indeed give you a long lasting memory of an Australian wine region