Explore The Vineyards Of New South Wales
Just an easy 2 hours of freeway driving north from Sydney and you enter the peaceful, picture perfect countryside of the Hunter Valley and its renowned vineyards and wineries.
This is a wonderful place to learn more about wine making and a perfect excuse for sampling the local wines and enjoying fine cuisine in one of the many first-class restaurants in the area. The Hunter's table wines, both red and white, are rated as some of the best in Australia.
Although a trip to the Hunter is a pleasant day trip from Sydney, there is a lot to see and it's well worth booking accommodation for at least one night to do justice to the region. The Hunter Valley is one of the most important wine-growing districts in Australia with over 70 wineries centered around Cessnock in the lower Hunter Valley and Denman in the Upper Hunter Valley. It is Australia's oldest commercial wine-producing area, with wine production dating back to the 1830s.
Most of the early colonial vineyards in the region have become incorporated into larger, modern companies. The high reputation of the region is maintained by well-known producers such as McWilliam's Mount Pleasant, Wyndham Estate, Tulloch's Winery, Oakvale Wines and Rothbury Estate.
To get an idea of the range of wineries in the district, try Tyrrell's and Drayton's wineries where you will also get a glimpse of the more traditional family approach to wine making, and a visit to Lindemans or Hunter Estate will introduce you to the modern big company, high volume approach.
Most wineries welcome visitors and provide wine-tasting and cellar door sales. Several seek to attract visitors with picnic grounds, BBQ facilities and excellent restaurants. The Cellar at McGuigan Hunter Village, Blaxland's at Pokolbin and the Casuarina at North Pokolbin are several of the restaurants in the area. A good time to visit the Hunter is around February if you want to see a vineyard in full swing. However, as this is the most hectic time of year do not expect the undivided attention of the wine makers.
If you are a true wine devotee, it's worth taking a look at some of the other areas in New South Wales that play an important part in Australia's wine industry. South of Sydney at Camden is Gledswood, the birthplace of Australia's wine industry. The first vines were planted here in 1827 and the winery was re-established as Gledswood Cellars in 1970.
There are also enjoyable wine-tasting holiday opportunities in the Riverina towns of Griffith and Leeton, the other main winegrowing area of New South Wales. These towns, along with Narrandera are the major centres of the Murrumbidgee lrrigation Area, which grows 80 per cent of the State's wine-producing grapes. Well-known wineries such as McWilliam's, de Bortoli and Rosetto & Sons are open to visitors looking to taste the wines of the Riverina.
Mudgee, located some 260 kilometres north-west of Sydney, produces fine wines from around a dozen or so boutique wineries. Other smaller vineyards are scattered throughout New South Wales - some of them quite close to Sydney.