The Hunter Valley is the oldest and probably best known wine region in Australia, specialising in Semillion and Shiraz varieties. There have been vines growing here since the 1820’s, but it took a while to become an important industry for the area and boomed from the 1960’s onwards. Try not to be over-whelmed by the fact that there are so many wineries in the area: a little research into the best ones to visit will whittle down your options. All are welcoming to the knowledgeable and novice alike, so stop off wherever you fancy for a tasting, pick up a bottle of your favourite and take it along to enjoy with dinner in one of the fabulous BYO restaurants in the area.
Just 2-2½ hours north of Sydney, the main draw will be wine tasting, but the coast north of Newcastle (about an hour away from the vineyards) will also appeal - especially to families. Port Stephens has fabulous beaches, Nelson Bay is the dolphin capital of Oz and has regular tours, or there are walking trails in Barrington Tops, a world heritage wilderness.
Due to its close proximity to Sydney the area gets busier at weekends. If a particular vineyard has been recommended to you, call and make a reservation in advance to avoid disappointment.