Wine Regions

Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley wine regions in NSW, Australia, is a very hot climate, prone to floods & heat waves.

Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley region is Australia’s oldest wine growing region, with vines first planted from the early 1830s. The region was established by ‘the godfather of Australian wine’, James Busby, alongside a list of Hunter Valley wineries that read like household names – Tyrrell’s, McWIlliams, Tullochs, Draytons.

 

The Hunter Valley region is beloved by Sydney-siders who have long made it a holiday and weekend destination, but indeed it is one of Australia’s leading tourist attractions, and Hunter Valley wine tasting one of the iconic experiences for those visiting Australia.

 

The Hunter Valley is separated into the Lower Hunter and Upper Hunter, with most significant Hunter Valley wineries located in the Lower Hunter in the southern foothills of the Brokenback range. Hunter Valley red wine is dominated by Shiraz grapes, while whites are produced from an assortment of different grape varieties, but none more iconic than Semillon.

Get to the Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley vineyards are best accessed by road, with under three hours of transit expected between Sydney and Hunter Valley wineries. If plane or helicopter travel suits, Cessnock and Newcastle airports are both proximate to the Hunter Valley region, and regional airlines and private charters service these airports daily. Coach tours to Hunter Valley best wineries are also available, and bespoke tours also available from Sydney.

Climate and style in Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley region is considered one of the hottest and wettest wine regions in Australia. Hunter Valley weather is distinguished by the Hunter Valley region sub-tropical climate. The Hunter Valley region is also affected by maritime influences. The region is considered warm climate, with summer temperatures often pushing towards 40 degrees Celsius, though mitigating breezes from the ocean are often pulled into the Hunter Valley region.

 

Disease pressure and crop failure is a constant concern for Hunter Valley wineries. White wines are harvested as young, fresh grapes, typically sitting at between 10 and 12 degrees alcohol by volume as finished wines. As Hunter Valley weather conditions can bring pressure on harvest with excessive heat and severe rain periods, grapes are generally harvested earlier than all other wine regions in Australia. Red wines are typically picked at modest alcohol levels yet reach full ripeness, with medium bodied, savoury, spicy red wines typical of the region.

Key Hunter Valley varietals

Hunter Valley wine tasting reveals that the Hunter Valley region is truly distinctive for its wine styles. Hero grapes are considered to be the unique Semillon of the region, alongside the Hunter Valley red wine staple, Shiraz.

 

Indeed, Hunter Valley wineries producing Semillon are renowned worldwide, with white wines produced from the grape typically lower in alcohol, racy with acidity, lean in youth and gloriously honeyed after long-term cellaring. UK wine writer Jancis Robinson MW has been quoted saying Hunter Valley Semillon is “Australia’s greatest gift to the wine world…”.

 

While Hunter Valley wineries typically produce at least Semillon and Shiraz, Chardonnay is also intrinsically linked to Hunter Valley region history, as are the often-overlooked but highly drinkable wines produced from Verdelho grapes. Hunter Valley wineries are also experimenting with a host of newer-to-Australia varieties, including Barbera, Vermentino and Tempranillo. There are mature plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but these are generally overlooked for the famed Shiraz wines of the Hunter Valley region.

Hunter Valley Varietal

Hunter Valley Semillon

Hunter Valley vineyards produce unique white wines from the grape Semillon. The Hunter Valley staple style of lean, racy, light in alcohol Semillon wines is not replicated anywhere in the world. These are wines that in youth appear nervous, tense and tight, and in best examples from Hunter Valley best wineries show a desirable line and length. These are citrusy and grassy wines in youth, but with maturity (and these wines can often gracefully age over decades) Hunter Valley Semillon become honeyed and mellow.

Hunter Valley Shiraz

Shiraz is at the apex of Hunter Valley red wine. Originally planted over 140 years ago, Shiraz is synonymous with red wines of the Hunter Valley region. A generation ago, Hunter Valley Shiraz was often tarnished with an image of being ‘horsey’ or ‘leathery’, but best modern examples are fresh and vibrant with pure fruit character, are medium weight, show judicious spice and oak handling, and are typically bottled at between 12 and 14 percent alcohol by volume. These are supremely elegant wines that are approachable in youth, but can age brilliantly between ten and thirty years.

Hunter Valley wineries

The Hunter Valley region is known for its founding wineries with a roll call of famous Hunter Valley Australia family names like the legendary Tyrrell’s, Drayton’s, McWIlliam’s, Tulloch and Rothbury Estate however new generation wine companies and producers have also garnered international attention.

 

While visiting the generational family wineries of the Hunter Valley region is a wonderful history lesson steeped in superb wine, it’s also pertinent to pay attention to producers like Thomas Wines, de Iuliis Wines, Audrey Wilkinson, Brokenwood, Tempus Two, Gundog Estate, Margan, Peppertree, Briar Ridge, Meerea Park, Scarborough, Little Wine Company, Usher Tinkler Wines, Tinkler Family Wines and Hunter Collective.

The future of Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley wineries can rest assured that over 150 years of winemaking history holds them in good stead for the future. However, the Hunter Valley region has lost some traction with wine drinkers, sommeliers and wine industry gate keepers, who have forgotten that the iconic styles of the Hunter Valley region are not only exceptional in quality, but also suited to our modern drinking and dining culture.

 

Light, fresh white wines and medium bodied, savoury, spicy red wines are perfect complements to our casual dining, love of seafood, Mediterranean focused diets and al fresco living. The recognition of Hunter Valley wine being more suited to Australian lifestyles is part of a bright future for the region.

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  • Hunter Valley
  • Shiraz