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Located just on the outskirts of Sydney lies Hunter Valley, with a winemaking history of almost 200 years, it is the oldest and most popular Sydney wine tours region.
Wine tasting at cellar doors in the beautiful Hunter Valley is the perfect way to discover your preferences in wine. A Hunter Valley tour gives you the chance to explore valley’s iconic grape varieties, the new blends and the new emerging varieties too. You’ll be sure to taste the distinctive and innovative wines among the rolling vineyards of Australia’s oldest wine region by a trip to Hunter.
Read more to find out exactly everything you need to know before planning a Hunter Valley wine tours from Sydney.
Why you must do Hunter Valley wine tasting?
Escaping the fast-paced city life to explore the beautiful Australian countryside presents the perfect incentive to visit Hunter Valley wineries on a day tour. Better yet, you can use this opportunity to truly spoil yourself with some of the finest food and wines available in Australia.
Not a wine lover? No problem! Hunter Valley is also home to a variety of breweries and distilleries. Alongside plenty of other attractions too; from manicured gardens to racing tracks and spas. There really is something for everyone at the Hunter Valley wineries.
Hunter Valley is visited by over 25 million tourists annually and is the most popular day trip from Sydney after the Blue Mountains. There are just so many reasons why Hunter Valley should be on the top of your Sydney wine tours itinerary.
Subregions and vineyards
With a huge variety of cellar doors to visit throughout Hunter Valley, you will be spoiled for choice when deciding which one to choose on a tour.
In the west, you have Wollombi, Broke and Denman. In the South you have Cessnock, and right in the heart of Hunter Valley, you have Lovedale, Pokolbin, and Rothbury. Across the valley, to the east, you can choose Maitland. And finally, in the North you have Singleton.
Don’t also miss out on the small boutique wineries at the small winemaker’s center in Pokolbin.
How to get there?
There are many options when it comes to making your way to the famous Hunter Valley Region. A few popular options have been highlighted below:
Self-driving Hunter Valley wine tours from Sydney
With this option you have the freedom to go where you chose, and at your own pace. For ease, you may want to look into car hire companies around Sydney.
Directions: Take a day trip to Hunter Valley and drive over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Follow the A1 (Pacific Highway) towards Hornsby. Before Hornsby (at Wahroonga) take the M1 (Pacific Motorway) north towards Newcastle and take one of three exits to the Hunter Valley Vineyards.
Train to Singleton
Taking the train is a great option if you are looking for a cheap Hunter Valley tour. However, It will limit your options with which cellar doors you are able to get to.
Directions: From Sydney, Central take the Countrylink express service (7 stops) to Singleton Station. From Singleton, it is 20 min (approx) taxi ride to your desired location in Hunter Valley wine country.
Coach Hunter Valley wine tours
Although this could be a great tour option for couples or those traveling alone. Taking a bus does restrict you to a chosen itinerary from a touring company.
Subsequently, this may not be ideal for families traveling with kids who may need to take quick stopovers along the way.
Moreover, bus tours search only tend to take you to the larger commercial cellar doors. Missing you the opportunity to visit those smaller boutique wineries available throughout the Hunter Valley Region.
Price: Taking a bus tour from Sydney to Hunter Valley is a great option and will generally set you back by around $80 to $100 per person.
Small group Hunter Valley wine tasting tours
Equally another ideal option for solo travelers is the small group Hunter Valley tour option available.
Keeping in mind that you do need to share this trip with many other tour operators, the itinerary as with the group bus option would be restricted to a chosen itinerary. Once again missing you the opportunity to visit those smaller boutique wineries available throughout the Hunter Valley Region.
Price: These tours tend to charge between $200 to $250 per person.
Private wine tours Hunter Valley
Undeniably the most expensive tour option available is the private Hunter Valley wine tours option.
Despite it being the least common trip option, hiring a private guide to take you from Sydney to the Hunter Valley can actually provide you with the best experience of them all.
Your private guide can recommend the Hunter Valley wine tours available and can make sure you don’t miss out on visiting the best cellar doors in the whole of the Hunter Valley winery region.
Price: At around $750 per tour, a Hunter Valley private wine tasting tour can usually accommodate up to 12 passengers total. Which comparatively doesn’t work out too experience in the long turn, does it?
Hunter Valley famous grape varieties
Hunter Valley is most known for it’s Semillon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Verdelho, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese varieties of wine.
Following the above varieties; Chambourcin is also available at Hunter Valley wineries. Chambourcin is a French Hybrid red wine grape variety. These wines are strong in colour, taste very fruity, and tend to finish short.
What to expect at a wine tasting tour?
Undoubtedly worth the trip; a tour to one of Hunter Valleys’ cellar doors will give you a very unique opportunity to taste wine varieties that you may have never come across before.
Specifically many of the wines on offer at Hunter Valley are only available at the cellar doors so don’t miss out on the opportunity to buy some while you’re trip to Hunter.
Without a doubt tasting at a cellar door will always be a fun and educational experience. You can expect to be offered a tasting of up to 5 wines. And with many cellar doors boasting many different varieties of wine; don’t be afraid to try something new. You may just find your new favourite variety of wine!
Most importantly; don’t forget to ask yourself lots of questions; even the ones you might find silly. The staff at the cellar doors have much experience and will be happy to answer any of your tickling questions.
Hunter Valley tasting fee
Very few cellar doors at Hunter Valley offer free wine tasting. In general, cellar doors have an initial charge for tasting, but this charge is usually refunded on the purchase of wine of your choosing.
In general, a charge of $5 is common for more wineries offering a taste of up to 5 or 10 wines from their non-premium range. This would include wines such as Tyrrell’s Wines and Pepper Tree Wines etc.
For the premium wine tasting, a fee from $10- to $25 would generally apply. This includes wines such as Brokenwood Wines, which charges $25 per person.
Cheese tasting Hunter Valley
Cheese tasting in Hunter Valley is also a popular activity for whoever goes on a day trip. Hunter got the best artisan cheese manufacturers in Sydney and we have covered all in our article of Hunter Valley cheese tasting guide.
Hunter Valley winery ranking
James Halliday wine companion
Take a look at the wine companion and reviews for James Halliday. As an Australian wine writer and critic, James Halliday is a winemaker and senior wine competition, judge. Furthermore, he has written and co-authored more than 40 books on wine dating back to 1979. His work includes contributions to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine. I highly recommend you check out invaluable writing to learn more.
Halliday Wine Companion 2019 Best Hunter Valley Semillon winners
- Museum Release Flagship Hunter Valley Semillon from Mount View estate
- Reserve Hunter Valley Semillon from Silkman wines
- Museum Release Vat 1 Hunter Semillon from Tyrrell’s wines
Halliday Wine Companion 2019 Best Hunter Valley Top rated Red winners
- Reserve Shiraz Pinot from Silkman wines
James Busby perpetual trophy
For the best NSW Wine winners in Hunter Region, it is definitely worthwhile to check out the James Busby Perpetual Trophy winners to learn even more.
2019 KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show Hunter Valley Gold medalist
- Stevens Semillon from Tyrrell’s Vineyards won the Gold for the class 6 Semillon 2018
- Indigo Vineyard Shiraz from Brokenwood Wines was the Gold winner for the class 35 Shiraz 2018
Best inside winery and vineyard tour
Make sure to visit Tyrrell’s Wines or McGuigan Wines for the most enjoyable Hunter Valley winery tour from Sydney.
- Cost – 5$ PP (which also includes some wine tasting after the tour).
- Time – 1 hour
Hunter Valley wine tasting tours itinerary
A typical day tour from Sydney to your Hunter Valley wine tour would begin around 7 – 7:45 AM.
Accordingly, a complimentary pick-up will be available to collect you from a variety of Sydney city hotels or if preferred a convenient Sydney location.
- Travel time – From Sydney to Hunter Valley it will take 2 hours.
- Included – A visit to 2 or 3 Hunter Valley Cellar Doors is included in your day tour from Sydney.
- Lunchtime – There will be a variety of restaurants and food options available in Hunter Valley for your choosing.
- For foodies – Don’t miss out on the chocolate, cheese, or distillery tasting options available.
- Other activities: Use this opportunity to spend time in the beautiful Hunter Valley countryside while also getting the chance to spot some wild kangaroos.
- Return – You will return to Sydney at approximately 6 PM, with a complimentary drop-ff to your pick-up point or nearby.
The autumn season (March to May) presents the most ideal weather conditions for visiting the Hunter Valley Wine Region. This is due to the pleasant temperatures and minimal rain occurring.
Conveniently hotels are much cheaper just after the harvest due to there being fewer visitors to the Hunter Valley Wine Region. Furthermore, during this time, the Hunter Valley landscape appears painted with hues of orange, yellow, green, and brown. Making the Hunter Valley region a photographers’ delight at this time of year.
Best Hunter Valley wine experience
The summer season (December to February) makes the perfect time of year to visit Hunter Valley wineries for some delicious wine tours and wine tasting. This is due to summer being the harvest time in Hunter Valley. Additionally, grape picking events are also held each year for both Chardonnay and Shiraz on selected wines available.
Hunter Valley travel guide
- Keep in mind that the minimum drinking age in Australia is 18 years.
- Winery tours require you to wear CLOSED-TOE shoes.
- To avoid the crowds it is best visiting the Hunter Valley wineries on a WEEKDAY. Mondays or Thursdays are good choices with the lowest volume of tourists on those days.
- Keep in mind that some places CLOSE on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. (Double-heck thec opening times before planning your trip).
- Additionally, don’t miss out on a visit to the stunning Hunter Valley Gardens while you are in the area.
- Prior to arrival in Hunter Valley, don’t forget to book your chocolate tasting tour in advance!
- Undoubtedly the best views of Hunter Valley are at Audrey Wilkinson; so don’t miss checking that off your Hunter Valley to-do list ether.
- Finally, do not forget that LESS IS MORE. It is often much better to thoroughly enjoy some easy paced tasting at just a couple of vineyards. Rather than rushing through four or five hurried tastings in one day and feeling exhausted by the end.
All together I think you can agree that a trip to the Hunter Valley is an absolute must for your Sydney travel itinerary. With so much to do and see from delicious cheese tastings, luxurious wine tastings, and stunning strolls through the gorgeous countryside.
Certainly, you will not regret booking your trip to Hunter Valley wineries today.
Need more help deciding other attractions near Sydney you can visit during your time in Sydney? Why not book a Blue Mountains private tour to visit a UNESCO World Heritage site with mesmerizing views?