Estimated reading time: 17 minutes
You can visit Hunter Valley the biggest and oldest wine region of Australia by taking a two-hour drive from Sydney. Here you can find the greatest number of cellar doors than any other wine region in the country. So, it’s common that tasting the wine to meet its flavour and character is a privilege sought by visitors here. The story of Hunter Valley wineries dates back to the early 1820s and over 150 wineries stand there today. This article will guide you to find the best of the best Hunter Valley wineries among that vast collection. So, you could get the best experience of a Hunter Valley wine tour.
This article on the best Hunter Valley wineries will first introduce you to the Hunter Valley and will provide a Hunter Valley wineries list by LGAs. Then, it will look at the famous grape varieties you can find in the Hunter region. Following that will be the section where will discuss wineries. However, the word ‘BEST’ is subjective to the reader and a good winery for me not good for you. Therefore, we have decided to provide a criterion for the ‘BEST’.
- James Halliday Wine Companion’s best Hunter Valley wineries
- Best Hunter Valley Winery with outdoor wine tasting
- Best kids-friendly Hunter Valley winery
- Hunter Valley wineries with the best eco-friendly practices
- Hunter Valley wineries with restaurants
- Single Vineyard Hunter Valley Wineries
Table of Contents
History of Hunter Valley Wineries
The 1800s mark the beginning of a spectacular moment in wine history. A glorious reputation precedes the Hunter Valley region in Australia, which houses many wineries. The boom in popularity dates back to the 18th century when Lieutenant John Shortland of the British Empire discovered the Hunter River, then a flourishing site for timber and coal. Vast acres of grapevines started crowding the adjoining areas by 1823, with names like George Wyndham, James King, and William Keldham slowly gaining currency among the public. However, it is sometimes a hassle to investigate who planted the first vineyard, the name of James Busby, without much strain on the nerves, surfaces in our minds.
Busby’s return to the Australian countryside is celebrated even now, for it marks the monumental entry of Semillon, France, and Spain’s famous grapes. Hunter Valley expanded in size down the lane as 500 acres of registered vineyard started to grow under strenuous labour. In 1850, Dr. Henry Lindemann, a connoisseur of fine wine, earned the laurel for the exceptional quality of the wine. As a benefactor, Lindemann supervised and celebrated the development of the wine industry at its infancy stage back in the day. Lindeman paved the way for others to follow in his footsteps with Semillon, Verdelho, and Shiraz. Audrey Wilkinson, Maurice O’Shea, Murray Tyrrell, and other well-known Australian winemakers, along with Drayton and Tulloch, have revolutionized the practice of winemaking. All of their products in Hunter Valley are delectable in taste.
Tyrell’s HVD Vineyards and history
In 1908, Tyrell’s HVD vineyards introduced the oldest vineyards dabbling in top-notch Chardonnay in the world. Following his footsteps, Maurice o Shea of Mount Pleasant introduced new wine styles. His ever-growing penchant for Semillon acted as the catalyst for the setup of the infamous Lovedale vineyard. The Hunter Valley’s wine industry was booming by the end of the century, and the area became well known for superb Semillon, which Master of Wine Jancis Robinson referred to as “Australia’s gift to the world.” In the present times, alternative varietals like Tempranillo, Fiano, and Barbera have graced the stage while still maintaining the age-old charm of Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Semillon.
Climate, Soil, and Viticulture of Hunter Valley NSW
The Hunter Valley is about 160 kilometres north of Sydney, New South Wales’ capital. It exists in the foothills of the Brokenback Range, which is part of the magnificent Great Dividing Range. The region enjoys spells of hot, sultry days and cold nights in summer and winter. The Hunter Valley is lucky with a medium amount of rainfall in terms of rainfall, with the Lower Hunter region getting more than the Upper Hunter. Summer showers are a common occurrence, along with thunderstorms both of which are bad news to the local folks as it causes property damage or destruction of crops. However, it does mitigate the effects of high temperatures. Winemakers capitalize on the warm climate for maximum productivity.
The region is not plain or homogenous in terms of soil texture and quality. The soils in the Lower Hunter Valley vary from sandy alluvial plains and dense loam to friable red duplex soils. The rivers and creeks in the Upper Hunter contribute to the area’s black, silty loam soils, which mostly overlay on top of alkaline clay loam. Shiraz thrives in friable red duplex and loam soils, while Semillon favours sandy alluvial flats.
Flanked by 2,300 hectares of vines, the Hunter Valley produces a small percentage of Australia’s overall annual grape crush. It prioritizes quality over quantity and thus has only ever produced wines of supreme quality. It boasts a massive number of 100 vineyards and 150 wineries and contributes to Australia’s winemaking reputation and wine tourism. Semillon, Chardonnay, and Shiraz are the region’s signature varieties, accounting for slightly more than half of the wine produced.
Full list of Hunter Valley Wineries
The region of the Hunter Valley will be identified by local government areas (LGA) and districts bisected for categorizing the wineries. Broke, Lovedale, Mt View, Pokolbin (which means ‘A Very Hot Place’ according to Aboriginal people), and Rothbury are the areas where you will find most of the cellar doors located.
Wineries and Growers based in Hunter Valley Local Government Area (LGA)
|Number of Growers
|Name of the winery
|Mount Broke wines
|130 Adams Peak Road, Broke
|1238 Milbrodale Road
|1325 Broke Road, Broke
|The Little Wine Company
|824 Milbrodale Road, Broke
|165 Hill Street, Broke
|725 Milbrodale Road, Broke
|997 Milbrodale Road, Broke
|Name of the winery
|492 Lovedale, Hunter Valley NSW 2325
|4 Londons Rd
|300 Talga Road, Lovedale, NSW 2320
|168 Lomas Lane, Lovedale, NSW 2325
|477 Lovedale Rd
|247 Wilderness Rd
|Emma’s Cottage vineyard
|438 Wilderness Road
|701 Lovedale Rd, Lovedale NSW 2320
Mt View wineries
|Name of the winery
|593 Mt View Road, Mt View, NSW 2325
|Lot 211 Mount View, NSW 2325
|Mount View Road
|150 Mitchells Road, Mt View, NSW 2325
|Mount View Estate
|Mount View Road, NSW 2325
|Name of the winery
|De Beyers Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|Lot 2 Palmers Lane
|Constable & Hershon
|205 Gillards Road
|1616 Broke Road
|535 Hermitage Road
|2213 Broke Road
|Hart and Hunter
|463 Deaseys Road
|525 Marrowbone Road
|Hunter Ridge Hermitage Road
|2 Oakey Creek Road
|5 Halls Road
|614 Hermitage Road
|422 Deasys Road
|462 De Beyers Road, Pokolbin
|447 McDonalds Road Corner of, Broke Rd
|2198 Broke Road
|771 Hermitage Road
|293 Deasys Road
|29 Palmers Lane, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|298 McDonalds Road
|Polin & Polin
|138 Mistletoe Lane
|576 De Beyers Road
|179 Gillards Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|Corner Hermitage Road and Mistletoe Lane
|Pokolbin Mountains Road
|725 Hermitage Rd
|1838 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
|78 Old North Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|138 Gillards Road
|530 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|2347 Broke Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|Lot 132 Mistletoe Lane, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|790 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320
|479 Hermitage Road
|Drayton’s Family wines
|555 Oakey Creek Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2321
|534 Oakey Creek Road
|687 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|97 Palmers Lane
|600 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|294 O’Connors Road
|266 Debeyers Road
|16 Gillards Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
|Iron Gate Estate
|Oakey Creek Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|Lot 101 Broke Road
|1693 Broke Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|Moorebank Private Vineyard Estate
|150 Palmers Lane, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|401 Marrowbone Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
|Name of the winery
|170 Sweetwater Road, Rothbury, NSW 2335
|999 McDonalds Rd, Rothbury NSW 2320
|Molly Morgan Vineyard
|496 Talga Road, Rothbury, NSW 2320
What grape varieties you can taste in Hunter Valley wineries?
Let’s talk about the wine and the grape varieties they come from before we move to Hunter Valley wineries. Below are four classic grape varieties of Hunter Valley you must have a slip in your wine tour.
This wine is with qualities unseen in any other wine in the world. So, Hunter Valley prides itself on it. However, the Semillon grape came to Australia in the early 1800s from the South West of France. But now this white grape from Bordeaux has made a home in Australia. This rich, creamy, lemon-flavoured wine wonderfully pairs with rich seafood like fish pies and tuna carpaccio.
Wine verities produced through this versatile grape under different styles can match any food. So, this grape is among the most planted white varieties in Australia. Chardonnay also came to Australia from France. It came in 1832 with the James Busby collection. The flavours of this wine range from apple and lemon to papaya and pineapple.
This dark-skinned grape is from the Rhone wine-growing areas of France. But today it is the most celebrated red grape in Australia while representing 40% of red grapes in the country. This also came to Australia in 1832 with the James Busby collection. This is with a peppery, minty, or spicy flavour. So, it is better when paired with spicy Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Read Best Hunter Valley Shiraz here.
This grape is from the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. It came to Australia around 1820. But now it thrives in the warm climate of Hunter Valley. This wine is with flavours ranging from tropical fruits such as guava, pineapple, and paw. This wine is better when paired with salads or spicy Thai foods for its rich texture.
What are the best Hunter Valley wineries?
James Halliday Wine Companion’s best Hunter Valley wineries
Below are four of the best Hunter Valley wineries based on Halliday Wine Companion to visit on a wine trip. If you are not familiar with the wine rating guideline, please read here. Each and every one of them has a history and a story of its own.
McGuigan Wines are famous as one of the top Hunter Valley wineries today. It started in 1880 with Owen McGuigan who made Hunter Valley his home. McGuigan Wines became the Australian Producer of the Year once. It also became the International Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2009. The winemakers of McGuigan Wines celebrate the traditional production methods everyone loves. So, their collection of labels is in high demand too.
Opening hours; Open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Address; Corner of Broke & McDonalds Roads, Pokolbin NSW 2320
T.P.; +61 (0)2 4998 4111
Halliday Winery ratings of Mcguigan wines
Excellent winery producing very high-quality wines and scoring 4.5 stars in the latest rankings. A winery with 4.5 stars usually has wines that score 90 to 95 or above.
Brokenwood Wine is mostly famous for its Chardonnay, and this fame dates back to its very opening in 1970. This is also listed as a 5-star winery among the Hunter Valley wineries. The tasting room of Brokenwood wines offers its visitors a casual or private wine tour as per the demand. You can also join in on the tour, which lets you explore the varieties of the Winery if you wish.
Opening hours; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Saturday & Sunday)
Address; 401-427 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
T.P.; (02) 4998 7559
James Halliday Winery ratings of Brokenwood wines Hunter Valley
5 Red Stars winery shows its exemplary quality and typicity of wines. To reach this level, at least 2 wines are required to reach 95 or above in the wine ratings. The 2018 Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz is at the top of the list and won the ‘Wine of the Year 2021’ award too. Find the below video where James Halliday (Judge) and Iain Riggs (winemaker) explain the story behind this award-winning wine.
English immigrant Edward Tyrrell added this winery to Hunter Valley wineries in 1858. Now, this winery is in the hands of his fourth-generation family member Bruce Tyrrell. Tyrrell’s is also the home of Australia’s most-awarded wines. Tyrrell’s has been awarded over 5,600 trophies and medals Since 1971. In 2010 it also became the “Winery of the Year” in James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion. Tyrrell’s hopes continue its philosophy of producing high-quality wine that people love to drink for many more generations too.
Opening hours; Open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
Address; 1838 Broke Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320
T.P.; (02) 4993 7028
Halliday Winery ratings of Tyrrell’s Wines Hunter Valley
Undoubtedly Tyrrell’s is one of the most successful wineries in the Hunter Valley which shows by their 5 Red Star rating from the wine companion ratings. Tyrrell’s are well-known for their single vineyard Semillons and Vat 1 Semillon is a winner of a number of wine competitions around the world.
Relatively young Thomas wine entered the Hunter Valley wineries in 1997. But it currently pioneers the two signature varieties of the Hunter Valley, Semillon, and Shiraz with other giants. It also became the Hunter Winemaker of the Year in 2008 and 2014. Thomas also became the Most Successful Exhibitor in 2011 and Hunter Valley Cellar Door of the Year in 2017. Apart from them, Thomas wines have also got nearly 500 trophies and awards since 1997. You can get a tasting experience at Thomas Wines under two main branches. So, ask for “The Discovery” or “The Journey” when you book it.
Opening hours; Open 7 days from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Address; 28 Mistletoe Lane, Pokolbin NSW 2320
T.P.; (02) 4998 7134
Halliday Winery ratings of Thomas wines Hunter Valley
Andrew Thomas, a well-known name in the wine industry has deep routes to McLaren Vale, then with Tyrrell’s wines. The 5 Red Star winery shouldn’t miss a tour to Hunter Valley if you are a serious wine drinker. Try Kiss Shiraz and Braemore Semillon which are the benchmark wines of Thomas Winery.
Recently we have done another write-up on the Halliday 5 star wineries of Hunter Valley and can read from the link.
Best Hunter Valley Winery with outdoor wine tasting
We know that even though there are over 130 plus wineries in Hunter Valley, only a few of them has perfect outdoor settings. That’s why we have chosen Gartelmann wines from Lovedale. This Hunter Valley winery offers both an outdoor deck and indoor air-conditioned sitting for wine tasters. Having a glass of wine in your hand, sitting on the outdoor deck gives you the perfect unobstructed near 360 views of the countryside overlooking a very small lake. What else do you expect!!!
You can contact them via their Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gartelmann-Wines/652800601559819
The best kids-friendly Hunter Valley cellar door
Even though mom and dad love to have a date away from kids, it is not always possible if you have an extended family. So, you would like to find out what are the ‘kid-friendly wineries in the Hunter Valley’. We have already covered this topic extensively in one of our articles. However, the best of the family-friendly winery in the Hunter Valley is Tulloch Cellar Door located at 638 De Beyers Rd, Pokolbin. They are one of the only wineries that offer Junior Tasting Sessions that combine with Kombucha.
Best organic and biodynamic winery in Hunter Valley
Organic food is a concept appearing around the world rapidly and it is not a strange word for people who love sustainable crops. Winegrowers also started using organic practices in their cultivation and production practices as the trend of biodynamic wines started to get popular. Hunter Valley is not a strange place for Organic wines and there are many renowned biodynamic wineries such as Krinklewood, Macquariedale, and Tamburlaine you can find for a wine-tasting session. However, our pick is Tamburlaine wines led by chief winemaker Mark Davidson. Give a try on the 2019 Reserve Hunter Syrah which gives a character of candied cherries and raspberries or the 2017 single vineyard Malbec with the spiced plum palate. The Reserve Aged Liqueur Muscat is a perfect add-on for your Christmas plum pudding as well.
Hunter Valley wineries with restaurants
If you are looking to visit the best cellar door in Hunter Valley with an award-winning restaurant, you cannot miss Margan Wines at 1238 Milbrodale Road, Broke. Located on the tranquil side of the Hunter Valley, this restaurant offers dining experiences for the most important life occasions. The Indulge Valentine’s Day menu is our favourite that begins with a refreshing Bramble Spritz Cocktail.
Margan’s restaurant is certified by Green Table Australia for their best environmentally sustainable practices and gained ISO14000.
Tips when doing wine tasting
Tasting wine is something more than just having a slip of wine with your friends. It’s an occasion one lives and an art one loves. It’s always important that you dress for the event and avoid wearing fragrances. This is because the smell is a big part of the testing. So, you don’t want to ruin that with the aroma of perfumes. However, you will not be able to enjoy the occasion at all if you get drunk quickly. So, remember to take a break to eat and drink water in between tastings.
How to hold a glass professionally if you visit Hunter Valley Wineries
Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to hold a wine glass too? Always hold the glass by its stem. So, the heat of your hand will not warm the liquid quickly.
How to taste
The tasting procedure has four steps in it.
- Look; The appearance gives a variety of clues about a wine. So, spend 5 seconds observing the wine.
- Smell; The smell can tell you a lot from the ingredients, and winemaking practices to the aging process.
- Taste; Feel the taste, texture, and length of time that taste stays with you.
- Think; Think about the uniqueness of the slip you took and find the facts that impressed you.
Don’t forget to have fun in between all of this too and enjoy the moment with your friends. After all, that’s what matters most.
Related Hunter Valley Travel Articles