For most wine lovers, there’s nothing quite like visiting a winery.
It’s a bit like going to a concert of a favourite band - you can listen to their records at home, but it doesn’t compare to being there in person.
At a great winery, you can see where the magic happens, take a tour of the vineyards and see where the grapes grow and take on their characteristics, and you get the chance to pick the brains of the people behind your favourite bottles.
You can learn what makes each wine unique, explore gloomy cellars and find out about specific winemaking techniques. And of course, there will be plenty of opportunity to taste plenty of wine, often with some great food accompaniments, too.
If you’re in Sydney, the chances are you’ll be surrounded by fantastic wines at any of the city’s renowned restaurants. But if you fancy getting out of town and don’t mind the short journey north, it’s well worth heading up to one of Australia’s great wine regions - the Hunter Valley - and doing a couple of winery tours to gain a more intimate knowledge of the country’s fascinating and varied wine industry.
There are dozens of fantastic wineries to visit, and this list is by no means the definitive one, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Audrey Wilkinson Winery
When you’re at Audrey Wilkinson Winery in Hunter Valley, you know you’re not in Sydney anymore. The views from this place are truly spectacular, and the impressive hillscapes which surround the winery make it one of the most picturesque and attractive spots to stop on your wine tour.
The wines are equally awe-inspiring - here, you’ll find world class Australian Shiraz, alongside varietals such as Semillon, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. With a beautiful country house style tasting room, you won’t want to leave.
Image by Expedia
Krinklewood Biodynamic Winery
Biodynamic wines are making big waves in Australia at the moment, and if you haven’t already, it’s high time you explored this fascinating approach to viticulture which attempts to bring a holistic, natural and spiritual approach to the world of winemaking.
Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyards is a beautiful example of a biodynamic winery - family run, single-estate and extremely pretty in a rustic French style. They make a fantastic set of single-estate rose wines, and the owners will take you through their traditional basket press methods, and show you their other varietals which include Shiraz, Semillon and Chardonnay.
Image by What to Cook
For an experience that tantalises all the senses, head out to Peppertree Wines. Not only do they have a wonderful winery specialising in Grand Reserve Shiraz, but there is a renowned restaurant on site which will pair this special wine with some tempting meaty dishes.
Here, you can get to know something about the real heritage of Australian wine, and watch the kangaroos hop around while you sip some of their excellent Semillon, too.
Image by Expedia
To get a real feel for the history of the Australian wine industry, you can’t miss Tyrrell’s Vineyard. This is a true heritage Hunter Valley winery, run by the same family since the mid 19th century, and they’re partly responsible for the great reputation this part of the country now enjoys.
This winery produces all the great Hunter Valley varietals - Shiraz, Chardonnay and Semillon, but also branched out into some top-quality sparkling wines and a seriously good range of tawny port wines, too.
They have their own bed and breakfast service on site, ideal for if you’ve enjoyed a fair few glasses and need somewhere to sleep for the night.
Image by Tyrell's Wines
Brokenwood Wines is highly regarded for the attentiveness of its staff, always keen to help and accommodate even during the busy season. There’s one key reason why wine lovers flock here - it’s the home of some of Hunter Valley’s best modern-style Chardonnay wines.
Gone are the creamy, buttery Chardonnays of the 90s; these are fruity, refreshing and full of crisp acidity that will make you fall in love with the grape all over again.
The staff are more than happy to answer even the most challenging and pedantic questions, and you’ll no doubt be leaving with a bottle of their Chardonnay, or their equally excellent Shiraz.
Image by Hunter Valley Visitor Centre
Okay, so we've got the wineries to visit covered, now we need to figure out what wines you should sip on once you visit... put your palate to the test and discover wines that you will love! Take our quiz below to find out your top 3 wine types.