Carefree in Hunter Valley – Indian Link

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For wine lovers and foodies, Hunter Valley offers the ultimate getaway. Leave behind the bustle of the streets of Sydney for the warm embrace of the countryside and all its humble offerings, promising a sense of freedom like never before.

With over 150 wineries to take you on an unforgettable wine journey, the Hunter Region is one of the best places in the state to indulge your wild side.

Just two hours from Sydney and 45 minutes from Newcastle, this destination is popular with all age groups – youngsters, seniors, revelers looking to make memories. From wine tours and chocolate tastings to hot air balloon rides and horseback riding, there’s something special for everyone.

A weekend in Hunter Valley

Traveling along the M1 motorway following the exit signs to Cessnock, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the awe-inspiring scenery that elicits travelers from Australia’s oldest wine region. It’s a spectacular drive with plenty of lush vineyards along the way to give you a taste of what Hunter Valley has in store.

Ben Ean, formerly Linderman’ Estate. Source: provided

To start your day off right (and maybe fill your stomach at the same time), we suggest you start with breakfast at one of the many cafes in the neighborhood. A sparkling breakfast at Cuvee Restaurant is perhaps a rite of passage now for visitors to the Hunter Valley.

Then, for wine connoisseurs looking for adventure, it’s time to hop on one of the many tasting buses that will take you to some of Australia’s most distinguished winemakers, including Tyrell’s Wines, Cockfighters Ghost and Tulloch Wine in Pokolbin. Gartelmann Wines and Lucy’s Run in Lovedale; and Winmark Wines and Krinklewood Vineyard in Broke.

valley of the wine hunters
Boydell’s cellar door and restaurant. Source: provided

For the perfect sunset shot to end an Instagram-worthy day of wine tasting, head to Allandale Winery in Lovedale to take in the stunning views. There really is nothing quite like watching the sun set over the lush landscape with a crisp Sémillon in hand, an iconic wine that put Hunter Valley on the map.

And if wine isn’t quite your spirit of choice, there are tons of breweries like Hope Estate or Hunter Beer Co, promising craft beers and ciders, all made on-site. For something a little stronger, Hunter Distillery is a certified organic distillery that produces a range of premium spirits, including a special chilli vodka that comes with a warning, although it could be considered mild for our South Asian palettes.

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Wine tasting at Scarborough Wine Co. Source: Supplied

Of course, there’s more to Hunter Valley than just drinks as the area boasts many well-known and acclaimed restaurants. For dinner options to soak up all that divine wine at the end of the day, the Blaxland Inn serves up delicious steaks for dedicated meat lovers. Or maybe Yellow Billy, the new kids in the kitchen block, who focus on cooking over fire.

There are always spectacular views to enjoy with your meal at Emerson’s Café and Restaurant, or for a fine dining experience head to Circa 1876, EXP Restaurant or Hunters Quarter. There’s no shortage of cuisines on offer here, just take your pick. Be aware, however, that between the months of March and May, when tourists flock to the valley, it can be difficult to get a table anywhere without booking in advance.

At the end of the day, settle in for a good night’s rest at one of Hunter Valley’s fantastic accommodation options. Whether you choose spa resorts and boutique hotels like Chateau Elan and Spicers Vineyards Estate or romantic villas and country estates like Casa La Vina and Hermitage Lodge, you are never more than minutes away from the lush greenery of Hunter.

The next day we highly recommend experiencing the local produce and food tasting of this award-winning wine region. Be sure to check out the many cheese and chocolate tastings which are equally rave-worthy (and pair so well with your wine!).

If you are able to visit in May and June, you simply must make a stop at the Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival.

hot air ballooning

Now, for a different taste of freedom, many activities will delight the whole family. Horseback riding along the tranquil countryside is a naturally popular treat, as is a hot air balloon ride 2,000 feet above the ground. And if that wasn’t entertaining enough, feeding wallabies or keeping a reptile at the Hunter Valley Zoo likely won’t be forgotten by kids anytime soon.

In Hunter Valley, you enjoy the freedom of a country getaway to create incredible memories with your loved ones. And best of all, you can do it with a much-needed glass of wine in hand.

For more information

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Helen L. Cuellar