After our day 2 relaxing day at Hyde Park, Art Gallery and Botanica Garden, it’s time to do something interesting. As wine lovers ourselves, a trip to Sydney can never be satisfied without stepping foot in the wine country – Hunter Valley.
Just some quick facts about Hunter Valley:
Hunter Valley Quick Facts
– Australia’s oldest and most visited wine region
New South Wales (NSW)
- 2 hours + drive from Sydney
- (Whites) Semillon, Chardonnay (most planted), Verdelho, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Gewürtztraminer
- (Reds) Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chambourcin, Sangiovese
- Warm and humid
- Red clay loam soils (Shiraz), sandy alluvial soil (Semillon)
Sub-regions of Hunter Valley:
- Broke Fordwich
- Upper Hunter Valley
Book A Wine Tasting Tour
We booked a generic wine tour via Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tours at AUD $80 per person. It was a small group of 7 people on a weekday on board a Mercedes Benz mini-coach. Picked up from Sydney and visited 4 different wineries, a lunch stop, cheese and wine pairing and a chocolate sampling as stated on their website.
We get picked up in Sydney near Raddison Hotel at 7 am. It took about 2 hours + with a short 30 minutes breakfast stop on the way. And we get dropped off back to the hotel at around 7 pm also.
1. Tulloch Wines
Our first stop was Tulloch Wines, located at Pokolbin subregion of Hunter Valley.
Tulloch Wines is one of the oldest in Hunter Valley established since 1800’s. Other long-established names in Hunter Valley are also Drayton, Lindeman’s, Lake’s Folly and Tyrrell. (We visited Tyrrell during our last trip to Hunter Valley, highly recommended for the quality wines!)
Tulloch has a nice cellar door and the tasting session was well carried out. We tasted and learnt at least 10 different wines of Tulloch.
Tulloch wine has a great history and produces wines from many different grape varieties such as Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Shiraz.. etc) Lots of choices and good for wine beginners as there are sweet, sparkling, lighter reds, and sweet port. Personally, I find their wines are catered to drinkers who prefer a sweeter taste, even in their reds.
Interesting wines to note:
- Verscato (a sparkling, low alcohol, sweet pink wine made from Verdelho grapes) $20
- Pokolbin dry red Shiraz (a medium-bodied red, hint of sweet note) $30
Open: 10am – 5pm daily
2. McGuigan Wines
Second stop we went to McGuigan Wines. You can tell by the scale of it McGuigan is quite a commercial one. Big cellar door and tasting room, export to all major market in the world. McGuigan also prides themselves on the “most awarded wineries in the world”.
We tasted 8 different wines at McGuigan ranging from Verdelho, Semillon, Gewurtztraminer, Cabernet Merlot, Shiraz, Port made from Shiraz, dessert wine…
I love their Bin9000 Semillon ($15), a very pale green (almost transparent in colour) zesty white wine with salty lime peel finish. Put it simply, a great wine to be enjoyed with big, fat fresh oysters or grilled seafood with lemon juice.
Good quality and pretty mainstream Cabernet Merlot (cellar select $35) and Shiraz ($35), late harvest Traminer sweet wine ($40).
🍷🍷🍷🍷 McGuigan is quite commercial wineries but apparently, all the marketing efforts paid off as you can recognize the brand from most other countries. Making good drinking wines at an affordable price.
Highly rated wine in McGuigan:
- The Philosophy 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz $150
- The Shortlist Hunter Valley Semillon 2014 $29
Address: Corner of Broke & McDonalds Roads, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Open: 7 days
3. Wine and Cheese Pairing
3rd stop, we went to The Hunter Wine Theatre. It is located just beside Matilda Bay Brewhouse which will be our lunch stop afterwards.
This is not a particular winery but more like a wine studio that showcasing different wines from different wineries of Hunter Valley. We paired our wines with 4 different local cheeses.
As you can see from the tasting sheet above, it is very tourist-friendly, which is not a bad thing as it helps to promote Hunter Valley wines to visitors from around the world.
Wines – so so…🍷🍷🍷
The Hunter Wine Theatre
Open: Every day at 10am and 2pm
4. Lunch at Matilda Bay Brewhouse + Dining
After the 3rd tasting, it was time for some lunch. We paid for the pre-arranged lunch option for AU$25 / person with a glass of wines. Some of the group members went ahead to have a beer tasting at the brewhouse after lunch as well.
Lunch – Open from 12pm until 4pm – 7 days
Dinner – Open from 6pm until 9pm – 7 days
5. Chocolate Sampling
This little chocolate shop – Cocoa Nib, is located at Keith Tulloch winery. Handmade in small batches and preservative free. What caught my eyes were just how beautiful those chocolates are. They are like little-painted art pieces. Just too beautiful to be eaten!
Address: 989 Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia
Open: 10am- 5pm (Closed on Tuesday)
4th and last wine stop of our trip. Capercaillie Estate makes good quality wine with generous flavour. Winemaker Pete Lane has over 20 years of experience working with some of the Hunter Valley’s biggest name such as Lindeman’s, Tyrrell’s and McWilliams before taking the challenge to work with Capercaillie.
Pretty impressive score rated by James Halliday. Some of their best wines are:
Capercaillie has some really good wines. Apart from the award-winning Shiraz, Chardonnay and Semillon those kinds of mainstream wines, they also have some interesting wines such as Chambourcin, a French-American hybrid grape variety, made for everyday easy drinking reds.
Address: 4 Londons Rd, Lovedale NSW 2325, Australia
Going back to Sydney
After the 4th winery, this is the time when everyone on the tour started to feel very happy after tasted more than 30 wines. Wines indeed make people happy🍷 😁.
Another 2 hours drive back to Sydney, traffic wasn’t’ too bad and we got back to the pickup point at around 7 pm or so. Long day but an enjoyable journey! And the best part was we don’t have to drive after all those tastings for safety and pleasure reason.
That was a pretty good wine tour, long hour but an easy day to Hunter Valley without having to drive ourselves. Travelled on a weekday was definitely a better choice to avoid the busy weekends at the wine country.
- Value for money $80 for 4 wineries/cellar tasting, cheese and chocolate tasting, no need to drive. We can just sit back, relax, and
drinktaste as much wine as we like.
- The itinerary is fixed. If you want to visit particular wineries of your choice, this might not be good for you. (A few years back we joined another private tour that customized the trip for us, it was great but paid much more as well.. )
Highlights of our wine tasting trip!
Thank you for reading!
Have you been to Hunter Valley?
Which is your favourite wine/ wineries in Hunter Valley?
Let me know by commenting below!
- Wine Australia – https://www.wineaustralia.com/discover-australian-wine/new-south-wales-wines/hunter-valley
- McGuigan Wines – https://www.mcguiganwines.com.au/
- Capercaillie Wines – http://www.capercailliewines.com.au/
- Where we stay in Sydney – Westin Hotel Sydney (Great Location)
- Fly To Sydney on Scoot Business Class (SIN-SYD)
- Day 1 in Sydney – Fish Market, Darling Harbour, Opera House, Harbour Bridge
- Day 2 in Sydney – Picnic at Hyde Park, Art Gallery, Botanical Garden
- Day 4 in Sydney – Bondi To Coogee Walk (Sydney Best Scenic Coastal Walk)