Located just three hours south of Sydney, the Hunter Valley is all about indulgence in the great outdoors. It’s the coachella of the wine scene – a place for all the best and brightest to come together in one big, beautiful orgy in a bottle. In addition to wine, the Hunter Valley boasts several award-winning restaurants, local producers of cheese, chocolate and oils, and a rather spectacular food and wine festival to honour it all.
Here’s where to eat, drink and play in the Hunter.
5 Reasons to Visit Hunter Valley
You don’t have to be a full-blown oenophile to appreciate a good drop of red with your dinner. The Hunter Valley and surrounding areas of Pokolbin, Lovedale and Singleton are home to over 150 leading wineries, vineyards and cellar doors dating back to 1820. Wine tasting can be a casual affair (rock up and ask for a taste) or can be done as part of a tour (pay someone to drive you around and take you to all the best places while you reassign your blood to alcohol ratios).
With so much fantastic local produce, it should come as no surprise that Hunter Valley chefs are able to turn these ingredients into some pretty luscious fare. Add to this the opportunity to enjoy it all with a backdrop of rolling hills and centuries-old vineyards and you’ve got yourself a pretty special dining experience. Whether you’re after fine dining or rustic cafe fare, there are a several eateries dotted throughout the area that cater to a range of budgets and requirements.
Other reasons to wear stretchy pants
What’s that? You fancy making a meal of local cheese? No judgement here. In fact, the Hunter Valley is such a hotbed of quality olive oil and vinegars, hard and soft rind cheeses, charcuterie, pates, relishes, and chocolate, that it’s hard to leave room for bigger bites. Businesses like the Smelly Cheese Shop and Hunter Valley Chocolate Company are a mecca for anyone who likes to nibble the good stuff.
Picture perfect cottages
If you’ve ever watched an episode of McLeod’s Daughters or even Little House of the Prairie for that matter, then now’s your chance to live a rustic lifestyle. The Hunter Valley offers up a range of cottages, cabins and farm stays with all the trimmings for anyone looking to connect with the great outdoors…without actually having to use an outhouse or, gasp, share a shower with strangers. There’s also plenty of places to pitch a tent and park a caravan, or pub-style accommodation in neighbouring towns of Cessnock and Pokolbin which offer a nice mid-point between the two.
Things to do in Hunter Valley when you’re not eating and sleeping
If you’ve gotten this far and decided that as long as the local weather on your iPhone includes the words ‘Hunter’ you will eat, drink and just generally be merry, then this section isn’t for you. However, if food babies and cheese comas are something you’ve become all too familiar with then perhaps it’s time to get out and explore what else the Hunter has to offer.
The region’s idyllic location on the outskirts of Barrington Tops National Park, Chichester State Forest and Lake St Clair make it a popular destination for outdoor activities. Book a sunrise hot air balloon ride, discover the area’s natural attractions on horseback, tee off on a championship golf course or hire and bike and peddle from cellar door to tasting room. Finally, when all that nature gets too much, a handful of top-notch day spas will offer foot rubs and face masks to fill your halcyon days.