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10 top wineries to go to in the Hunter Valley

Living in Sydney, I have been to the Hunter Valley many times. For weddings, hen’s parties, with friends, as a couple, as a family and for experience activities such at hot air ballooning, husky running and music festivals.

Accommodation is best sorted in a group as there are many houses to rent on different estates. However if there are only a few of you, Cypress Lakes Resort and Harrigan’s Irish Pub offer more expensive hotel accommodation.

Most of the wineries are centred around the Pokolbin region, so plan your trip if you don’t want to be wasting time driving from one end of the valley to another. For a quieter trip with less of a wait at the cellar door, try the Lovedale region.

Not every winery serves food, so if you’re not self catering at a homestay, make sure you plan to visit a winery that serves meals around lunchtime, head for Hunter Valley Gardens for a cheap eat or visit the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop for some night-time nibblies.

There are over 150 wineries in the Hunter Valley and I’ve been to about a third of them. There is no accounting for taste and even though these are my top 10 wineries, they may not be yours.

I’ve also had a couple of days where we went to 7 wineries in a day, so by then end you don’t really know what you’re tasting. I recommend no more than 5 wineries per day, and of course, have a designated driver or hire one to take you on a tour.

  1. Tintilla Estate

By far my favourite winery in the Hunter Valley for red wines is Tintilla Estate. They have many varieties, including my favourite Sangiovese’s and Tempranillo’s. Most times, a trip to the Hunter Valley isn’t complete for me without a visit here to stock up.

  1. Scarborough Wine Co

Scarborough is my favourite vineyard in the Hunter Valley for white wines. They have many different varieties from soft to bold creamy Chardonnay’s and the way they set up the tasting with a placemat for each wine is genius. I once took a non-white drinker here and by the end of the tasting they were converted.

  1. First Creek Wines

First Creek is one of my new favourites. The setting is beautiful as they often have kangaroos hopping by in nearby fields and a horse drawn cart out the front. The cellar door overlooks the winemaking facilities and the relaxed atmosphere makes the wines taste all the more sweet.

  1. Tatler Wines

The owner of Tatler made this a winery to remember for me. Not being a big fan of dessert wines, he taught me a trick: add ice, swirl and the taste is completely different.

  1. Marsh Estate

Unfortunately, I believe Marsh Estate is no longer open. When it was, it was only open 6 months of the year as the owner was a surfer who spent the other 6 months chasing waves. The wines were expensive, but worth it.

  1. Hope Estate

Hope Estate is now well known as it hosts many outdoor live music concerts. The wine is reasonably priced and the cellar door is roomy.

  1. Keith Tulloch

For a nice relaxed wine on the balcony, Keith Tulloch is my pick.

  1. Peterson Champagne House

Champagne, oysters and a chocolate shop next door- what’s not to like? Perfect for a hen’s party and many different types of yummy traditional method champenoise to try.

  1. De Bortoli Wines

Well known for its award winning Hunter Valley Semillon and classic Hunter Shiraz. It also has an infamous wine dog.

  1. Gartelmann Hunter Estate

Another new favourite, Gartelmann has a lovely woodland setting and cute Magpie mascot.

Happy tasting!

Related posts: It’s a winery thing, Hot air ballooning in the Hunter Valley, 10 things to do in the Gold Coast, 10 things to do in Melbourne, 10 things to do in Sydney, 10 things I have learnt from travelling, Marlborough to Akaroa, 2012

10 things to do in Sydney

Here are my favourite places to go in Sydney- a top ten list, if you will. Some of them may seem cliché, but there is a reason that certain places are deemed tourism worthy.

My number one place in Sydney is Taronga Zoo. I love animals and will go to any zoo at any given opportunity. Taronga Zoo is special because you can take a ferry to get there and it has the best views of the city from its grounds. You can even take a gondola from the ferry terminal to the zoo entrance and back again. I also like Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour for an animal fix. It has great shark tank viewing tunnels and they have beluga whales too!

The Botanic Gardens is the place to go for its iconic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I am lucky because I used to work close enough to the gardens to go for lunch time walks there. I always enjoyed seeing the tourists stopping to take pictures along the way as it reminds me what a lovely city I live in. In summer they have open air theatre shows for kids and they always seem to be setting up for a festival or opera on the harbour side.

The Opera House is the best place to catch a show- pretty much just because you are in the Opera House. My favourite bar, Opera Bar, is also here. It’s often crowded and hard to get a drink, but you can’t beat being under the Opera House looking at the Harbour Bridge while you sip your pre- show cocktail. For a more old skool pub, I also like The London in Balmain. Rustic and sturdy, they have a large selection of beer on tap and decent food. Plus, how can you not love a pub that welcomes dogs?!

One of my favourite restaurants is at The Deck at Luna Park. It has great Spanish style seafood share platters and is not too expensive. It’s also located in my favourite suburb- Kirribilli. I was fortunate enough to live here for a while and there is no place quite like it in Sydney. Lavender Bay is beautiful, the Harbour Bridge is above you and the city is just across the water. You also can’t beat walking to work over the Harbour Bridge.

The European clothing brands have finally landed in Australia! So my new favourite place to shop is the brand new H & M‘s that keep popping up all over Sydney. I must admit that I am a little addicted.

But the best way to see Sydney is to be on the harbour in a boat– preferable at the start of the Sydney to Hobart Race. The harbour is what makes Sydney special, and it is beautiful, so if you ever come here make sure you get out on the water.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, Cocktail Hour is Sydneytown, Kid at Heart, Degustation Delights