Hunter Valley Overview
The Hunter Valley is a thriving wine producing and tourist region, around 2 hours drive north of Sydney.
The Hunter Region is split into the Upper and Lower Hunter with most of the visitable wineries and tourist developments being in the Lower Hunter region (there are some notable exceptions, Rosemount Estate for example has its production centre in the Upper Hunter but has a representative cellar door in the Lower Hunter).
The Lower Hunter Valley pioneered Australian wine tourism and is now well established with a good selection of accommodation, cellar doors and restaurants.
The Hunter Valley gardens are also located in the Lower Hunter Valley. These magnificent gardens are well worth a visit when you need a break from all the wine tasting.
A Wine Lovers Paradise
Hunter Valley wines are truly world class and many of the names here will be familiar to wine drinkers throughout the World. In just the few square miles of the Lower Hunter you are able to try and tour a multitude of wineries including some famous names such as Brokenwood, Lindemans, McGuigan, Drayton, Hope Estate (at the former Rothbury Estate site), Tempus Two and Wyndham Estate. This is undoubtedly a wine lovers paradise.
Look out for the fine Tyrells winery which is further along Broke Road, heading west.
Food and Wine.
Where there is wine there is food so it not surprising that there are plenty of good places to eat at the Hunter Valley. Many of the wineries themselves serve food and there are many excellent restaurants scattered throughout the area.
Roberts Restaurant is a multi award winning, Hunter Valley institution. The wonderful food is matched by the impeccable service and the delightfully cosy and welcoming heritage interior of the restaurant. Book ahead as Roberts reputation is wide spread.
Draytons and Sobells
The Drayton's and Sobells are pioneers in Australian wine and were some of the first to establish a wineries in the Hunter Valley in 1800's.
Both Draytons and Sobells (now run by Kevin Sobell) have low key understated wineries and produce good value and great tasting wines.
When we last visited the Hunter (December 2009) The Sobells Merlot 2008 was our personal favourite of all the wines we tried.
As many wineries in the Lower Hunter are concentrated in such a small area (see lower Hunter Valley Map), it is possible to tour them by car (if there is a designated driver), bike, Horse and Carriage or by organised tour and only spend a few minutes traveling.
Many of the wineries also have attached vineyards and offer winery tours covering the whole wine production process from grape growing and harvesting to setting down the wine.
Even if at first you had no intention of buying, most people end up with a bottle or two at the end of the day but please note that some wineries are starting to introduce a cover charge for wine tastings.
Semillon, Shiraz and Chardonnay
Climatic and soil conditions in the Hunter Valley are perfect for production of the major grape styles - Semillon, Shiraz and to a lesser extent Chardonnay.
As well as supplying the local wineries, grapes are sent further a field to other Australian wine producing areas. Conversely, many Hunter Valley wineries also use grapes produced in other parts of the country to compliment their ranges.
This practical approach to wine production has been one of the strengths of the Australian wine industry.
Most of the hotels and resorts in the area will provide free maps showing all the nearby 'Cellar Doors'. Many people plan a quick route or just follow their nose and hop from one winery to the next. As many wineries have restaurants serving equally fine food, don't be surprised if you find yourself staying for a few comfortable hours and only visit a mere handful of the many cellar doors. But there is always tomorrow.
It is a pleasant drive from Sydney; the freeway passes through some impressive rock cuttings between Berrowa and Brooklyn with some dramatic views of the Hawkesbury River.
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Hunter Valley accommodation
For a list of places to stay please visit our Hunter Valley Accommodation page or see our interactive map showing places to stay. The Hunter Valley is a well established tourist retreat with many fine resorts (some with golf courses) and hotels. There is also accommodation attached to some of the wineries.
The close proximity to Sydney makes the Hunter Valley an ideal weekender destination and at peak times such as Christmas and Easter it is advisable to book your accommodation early.
The Hunter Valley is located in eastern New South Wales and has a Latitude of 32.8°S and a Longitude of 151.3° E.
Driving To The Hunter Valley
Some approximate driving times to Sydney are:
1.5Hrs From Sydney (150Km)
11Hrs From Melbourne (1000Km)
10Hrs From Brisbane (830Km)
See Route and Distance Calculator for more accurate driving times and routes from additional locations.
Flying To Sydney
Sydney Airport (Kingsford Smith), has both international and domestic terminals and is around 10km (6 miles) south of the city on Botany Bay (see map). By car, the journey into the city should take approximately 20-30 minutes depending on traffic conditions. Taxis, hire cars airport buses, hotel shuttle buses and a direct train link to Sydney are available.
As a guide, some approximate flying time from Sydney are:
Perth is 5 hours
Melbourne 1.5 hours
Brisbane 1.5 hours
Cairns 3 hours.
Times do not include travel time to and from airports and adequate time prior to check in etc.
These figures are for guidance only:
Approximate Max Average Temperature
Deg C/ Deg F
Winter (June-Aug):18 / 65
Spring (Sep-Nov):25 / 76
Summer (Dec-Feb):28 / 82
Autumn (Mar-May):24 / 76
Approximate Average Monthly Rainfall - mm
Winter (June-Aug): 96
Spring (Sep-Nov): 74
Summer (Dec-Feb): 93
Autumn (Mar-May): 117
There has been considerable growth in the popularity of the Hunter Valley as a tourist destination and this is reflected in some of the wineries, hotels, resorts and attractions (including the stunning Hunter Valley Gardens) which have been constructed in recent years.
There are hundreads of wineries built in a wide range of styles including gleaming, contemporary multi million dollar, corporate headquarters (Tempus Two at the junction of Broke and McDonalds Roads, Hungerford Hill on Broke Road and Lindemans on McDonalds Road for example), Heritage style (Pepper Tree Wines on Halls Road and Ivanhoe Wines at the junction of McDonalds and Oakey Creek Roads) Tuscan country house style (Tower Estate at the junction of Broke and Halls Road) and modern Australian design (Audrey Wilkinson off Debeyers Road is a good example of this).
There are some un-assuming wineries which belie the quality of wine produced within but nevertheless are worth seeking out (e.g. Evans Family Wines off Broke Road and Draytons Family Wines near the junction of McDonalds and Oakey Creek Roads.).