Food and Wine | Family 08 January 2024

Indulging in Wine & Nature: Exploring Hunter Valley Vineyards

Few places rival the charm of New South Wales' Hunter Valley. This is due to its perfect blend of stunning scenery and winemaking artistry, making it an immensely popular destination. While there may be a near-constant stream of tour buses, the Hunter still harbours exciting hidden gems and emerging classics that make a weekend away even more worthwhile.

With many of its vineyards dating back to the 1850s, the Hunter Valley wine region is a testament to Australia’s rich winemaking history. In this guide, we'll uncork the secrets behind the popularity of the Hunter Valley vineyards and unveil the top 10 must-visit wineries, each a unique sip of the region's viticultural excellence.

And, while you're out discovering all the Hunter Valley has to offer, Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites is there when you need to plonk into bed or indulge in some delicious downtime.

What Makes Hunter Valley Wineries So Popular?

The Hunter Valley has a bit of everything, from cosy family-owned vineyards to big-name wineries, ensuring there's a little something for every taste. And the beauty of rolling vineyards and stunning sunsets turn a simple wine tasting into a full-blown sensory adventure.

Stroll through the Hunter Valley vineyards, and you'll feel the dedication and skill that goes into every bottle. An absolute commitment to quality and a genuine connection to the land gives each glass a unique Hunter Valley character.

Now, the Hunter Valley isn't just one big wine wonderland. It's split into three regions: Pokolbin, Lovedale, and Broke-Fordwich. Thanks to different soils and climates, each region offers a unique cellar-door experience.

The Top 10 Best Wineries in the Hunter Valley

Set off on a vinous adventure as we unveil the crème de la crème of Hunter Valley wineries, each offering something special.

1. Scarborough Wine Co

Beginning our Hunter Valley journey, Scarborough Wine Co beckons as a beacon of excellence, renowned for its elegant Semillon and complex Shiraz. This family-owned gem, cultivated across two generations, extends a warm welcome, captivating views, and a glimpse into Hunter Valley's winemaking legacy. A definite highlight on the itinerary, the homely cellar door opens to endless views of the vineyards.

2. Audrey Wilkinson

Sitting pretty on the top of a hill, Audrey Wilkinson is renowned for handcrafted wines and more of those sweeping views. Dating back to 1866, it's one of the oldest Hunter Valley wineries, and it hosts a museum with original vats and wine-making equipment, making it a must-visit for wine enthusiasts and history buffs alike. 

3. Peterson House

Championing the Hunter Valley's effervescent side, Peterson House is a sparkling wine specialist devoted to traditional methods. The winery’s Restaurant Cuveé is loved for its bubbly breakfast, long leisurely lunches, and local Australian cuisine. Nestled at the crossroad of Wine Country Drive and the bustling Broke Road, this winery is known as the gateway to the Hunter Valley.

4. Ernest Hill Wines

Ernest Hill Wines blends tradition with innovation, emphasising their natural process in every sip. Some vines at Ernest Hill date back to the early ‘70s and are over 50 years old. The vineyard prioritises the well-being of old vines and soil health, and natural sprays and fertilisers are used to ensure the vines flourish, producing high-quality grapes for their beautiful wines. This is a humble boutique winery you must not skip.

5. Harkham Wines

Harkham Wines pioneers a natural approach that’s evident in every bottle, as the Harkham family passionately uphold organic, minimal intervention principles. They offer preservative-free wines in an immersive, cave-like atmosphere, featuring a delightful Semillon and a must-try chocolate liquor. Indulge in a cheese and wine pairing experience for the ultimate treat. There’s nowhere quite like Hawkham Wines in the Hunter Valley!

6. Vinden Wines Cellar Door

Nestled in the Pokolbin region, the picturesque vineyard of Vinden Wines stands out. Specialising in Semillon and Shiraz, Vinden Wines is a must-visit on your exploration of the Hunter Valley. The Cellar Door, a hidden gem, encapsulates the beauty of boutique winemaking, with each bottle sharing a story of love and craftsmanship through its focus on small-batch production. And just a stone's throw away is the Elysia Wellness Retreat, creating an idyllic opportunity to blend the pleasures of Hunter Valley wines with relaxation and rejuvenation.

7. Bimbadgen Winery

Bimbadgen Winery is a hot spot for wine and live music in the heart of Hunter Valley with its amphitheatre that hosts large and small events. The name originates from an Indigenous term meaning "place with a good view," evident from the cellar door. Explore the breathtaking open-plan winemaking facility and enjoy a tasting with woodfired pizza downstairs, or book a table at Esca Bimbadgen restaurant. Exploring their sparkling and single vineyard range is an absolute must!

8. Brokenwood Wines

Brokenwood is a sleek architectural marvel, and visiting this iconic Hunter Valley winery promises an exploration of the region's finest wines. The spacious terrace, the incredible Wood Restaurant, and a wine museum make it a splendid spot for breakfast and a leisurely lunch. The giant building boasts private tasting rooms and wine pods, adding to its allure. Nearby, the Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort offers a luxurious retreat for wine enthusiasts seeking solace.

9. Gartelmann Wines

Hidden in the picturesque landscape, Gartelmann Wines epitomises the boutique winery experience—a testament to the idea that good things come in small batches. The welcoming cellar door extends to The Deck Café Lovedale, offering a view of the dam in a serene bush setting. Gartelmann Wines provides an authentic Hunter Valley experience for the whole family.

10. Ivanhoe Wines

Their commitment to seriously good wines gives Ivanhoe Wines a quintessential Hunter Valley wine-tasting experience. Their small cellar door presents crisp chardonnay, robust reds, and dessert wines dripping with character for you to enjoy on 80 acres of pristine Pokolbin countryside. Some of their exclusive boutique stock isn't found in shops, so seize the chance to load up on their unique offerings.

Escape to the Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley Wine region is not just a destination for wine connoisseurs, it's an experience for anyone seeking a harmonious blend of nature's beauty and the art of winemaking. From the classic elegance of Scarborough Wine Co. to the panoramic views at Audrey Wilkinson and the earthy practices at Harkham Wines, each winery adds a distinct note to the overall character of Hunter Valley wines.

Book your escape with Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites and unwind with the beautiful blend of stunning sceneries and world-famous wines. Whether you're a seasoned wine enthusiast or a casual sipper, the Hunter Valley welcomes you to explore, taste, and appreciate the essence of Australian winemaking.