The Hunter Valley, which covers about 9,650 sq mi/15,530 sq km, has more than 120 wineries that produce mostly high-quality vintages, especially Semillon (white) and Shiraz (red). A visit to the valley, which is about a two-hour drive north of Sydney, is a popular day trip for Sydneysiders and visitors alike.
Serious wine lovers will choose to stay at least overnight although several days are recommended for a truly relaxing visit. Wine tastings, fine dining, scenic drives and bush walking are part of most tours to the area.
Several operators offer day and overnight trips, which typically include a visit to Mangrove Creek National Park, stops at several wineries for tastings and a picnic lunch overlooking the vineyards. You also can rent a car and go on your own, but be sure to nominate a designated driver.
Wineries, restaurants, producer suppliers, accommodation, spas and golf courses make this Australia's Napa Valley. Australia's first vineyards were established there with some of the respected producers including Tyrell's, Brokenwood, Briar Ridge, Lindeman's, McWilliams, Peppertree, Tulloch, Margan and Drayton's.
The wine area is technically the Lower Hunter Valley, as there is also the Upper Hunter Valley further up the valley, including towns such as Aberdeen, Muswellbrook and Singleton. The land in the upper valley has been farmed for decades, but now coal mining dominates. Most of these mines are open-cut and the port of Newcastle is the largest coal exporting port in the world.
Newcastle, the state's second-largest city, is just a 40-minute drive from the Hunter Valley. It offers inner city accommodations, bars, restaurants and boutiques, and has some of the best beaches in New South Wales, all easily accessible to the downtown area.
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