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Couple sits in vineyard drinking wine.
Photograph: Supplied

The best Hunter Valley wine tours

Experience the Hunter Valley's finest wine offerings on these five tours of the region

By Olivia Gee
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As of June 1, tours and tastings at cellar doors, breweries and distilleries are once again permitted. So, if you've been hankering for a drop of crisp Sauvignon Blanc straight from the source or you just want to finally know what the hell tannins are, it’s high time to went on a wine tour.

And in NSW, the Hunter Valley is the place to do it. There are 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 wineBut first, explore the Hunter and pretend you’re a sommelier at these wine tours in the Valley.

Explore wine country

Tour group sits on horse-drawn carriage.
Tour group sits on horse-drawn carriage.
Photograph: Supplied

Hunter Valley Carriages Taste the Valley Wine Tour

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 $75 (with discounts currently in place). 

Note: These tours will be in operation again from June 20. Bookings will be capped at a maximum of 10 people.  

Group stands in vineyard.
Group stands in vineyard.
Photograph: Supplied

Tastes of the Hunter Gourmet Explorer Tour

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 $680 for a 13-seat bus and $830 for up to 20 passengers.

Note: Until restrictions are further lifted, in June and July, visitors will be able to book out the larger bus for the maximum number of people currently allowed (10) for the price of the smaller bus ($680). Tours will be offered from June 19. 

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Group clinks glasses at table.
Group clinks glasses at table.
Photograph: Supplied

iHop Hunter Valley Wine, Beer and Fork Tour

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 twilight tour you’ll visit two boutique cellar doors for a guided wine tasting and cheese plate. Next stop is a local brewhouse to sample a tasting paddle of Hunter beers and ciders. Final stop of the night? One of the locals' favourite restaurants. But we won't tell you where. The iHop vehicles will ferry to and from local accommodation for this five hour experience – for just $145 per guest.

Note: Tours are running again from June 6. The number of guests will be capped due to physical distancing requirements. 

Woman holds glass of white wine in a vineyard.
Woman holds glass of white wine in a vineyard.
Photograph; Supplied

Two Fat Blokes Hunter Gatherer’s Tour

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 guests every day of the week from $169 per person, and they’ll deliver you to and from your accommodation in wine country.

Note: Please confirm the availability of tours before planning your visit. 

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Couple looks at grapes on a vine.
Couple looks at grapes on a vine.
Photograph: Supplied

Wine Country Tours Small Group Day Tour

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.

Note: These tours have been temporarily halted. Please check back for updates. 

Hit the open road

Car driving over bridge aerial view
Photograph: Dee Kramer

The best road trips around New South Wales

Travel

Pack the boot, roll down your windows and let gorgeous scenery whizz past – be that soaring coastal cliffs, native bushland, or towering alpine forests. Trust us, no one will be asking if you're nearly there yet.

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