If you appreciate a drop of crisp sauvignon blanc or want to finally know what tannins are, it’s time to go on a wine tour, and the Hunter Valley is the place to do it. There’s more than 150 wineries dotted over the rolling green hills of the region, and collectively they’ve accumulated 180 years of experience in growing, smooshing and fermenting grapes to make our favourite reds and whites.
When you’re back home, you can use your new wine knowledge to assess the best spots to drink natural wine in Sydney, or suggest pairing combinations at these places serving cheese platters with your wine. But first, explore the Hunter and pretend you’re a sommelier at these wine tours in the Valley.
Explore wine country
The guys at Two Fat Blokes want to showcase more than just wine on their Hunter Gatherer’s Tour. They show off the region’s chefs and local produce at lunch, take you on a brewery tour, and help you spot some local wildlife. But grown-up grape juice is certainly a prominent feature. You visit at least four wineries, take a stroll around a vineyard and get two wine-tasting courses matched with cheese and chocolate. The full-day experience accommodates up to 14 guest every day of the week from $169 per person, and they’ll deliver you to and from your accommodation in wine country.
A trot through the vineyards in a horse-drawn carriage might be the quaintest way to experience the Hunter Valley. Meet your guide and trusty steed at the Small Winemakers Centre at 10.30am, before trundling to cellar doors, and getting to know the region’s produce tasting olives, cheeses and chocolate. You can make it a private experience or join an open group and meet more wine (and horse) enthusiast friends. A lunch stop at Baxter’s Inn is included in the itinerary, at an additional $30 a head. A full day tour finishes at 4pm, and costs $88.
This private tour with Tastes of the Hunter does transfers as far as Newcastle, Maitland and Singleton, as well as local round-trips running Sunday-Tuesday. Your chariot will arrive between 8-10am, ready to visit three boutique wineries, a cheese shop, chocolaterie and the choice between a vodka and schnapps tasting at Hunter Distillery or something sweet (at your own expense) from Sabor Dessert bar. You’ll also get to decide where to lunch during the tour, but it isn’t included in the cost. Pay $115 as an individual wine-lover, or groups can gather $650 for a 13-seat bus and $830 for up to 20 passengers.
An evening tour in the Hunter Valley is hard to come by, but you can experience the region by moonlight on this degustation tour. With this iHop Hunter Valley night tour you’ll visit a local boutique brewery and start with a tasting paddle of craft beers and ciders paired with an entré course, then move on to a main of woodfired pizza with your choice of local wine or beer. Finish with another drink and a selection of cheeses or something sweet. The iHop vehicles will ferry to and from local accommodation for this three-and-a-half hour experience on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for $120 per diner.
The founder of Wine Country Tours Richard Everret will share more than 40 years experience as a winemaker on this city-to-vineyard experience. After your Sydney pick-up, you’ll arrive in the Hunter to a morning tea at around 10am. Richard will then introduce you to the area’s renowned long-ageing dry semillons and other regional varieties, conducting all the tastings personally at various wineries, vineyards and a working wine cellar. Lunch is served at either Muse Kitchen or Esca at Bimbadgen, but not included in the $200 bill for Sydney transfers or the $125 for guests staying locally. Sydneysiders can expect to get home around 7.30pm.
Find wine closer to home
Sydney loves wine and luckily we've got a bunch of beautiful bars pouring some of the best drops from around the country and the world. Whether you're after natural vino, some cheese with your wine or you want to hit an urban cellar door, these are the best wine bars in Sydney.