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  • Phillippa Sutton

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Updated: Jun 22



The Hunter Valley is one of Australia's best known wine regions. Located in the state of New South Wales, the region has played a pivotal role in the history of Australian wine as one of the first wine regions planted in the early 19th century. Hunter Valley Semillon is widely considered the iconic wine of the region but the Hunter produces wine from a variety of grapes including Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Verdelho.

Under Australia's wine appellation system, the Hunter Valley zone Australian Geographical Indication (GI) covers the entire catchment of the Hunter River and its tributaries. Within that, the Hunter region is almost as large, and includes most of the wine-producing areas, excluding the metropolitan area of Newcastle and nearby coastal areas, some national parks, and any land that was in the Mudgee Shire (at the western heights of the catchment). There are three named subregions in the Hunter region. These are the Upper Hunter Valley, Broke Fordwich and Pokolbin subregions. The Lower Hunter Valley is not strictly defined, but in general includes the Pokolbin subregion, along with the districts around Wollombi, Mount View, Cessnock and Lovedale.[3] Much of the history of Hunter was played out in this area and it is generally what is referred as the Hunter Valley wine country.

The majority of the Hunter Valley's most prestigious vineyards are located on the southern valley and foothills of the Brokenback Range (part of the Great Dividing Range). The topography of the Hunter includes mostly gently sloping hills with modest gradients. The one notable exception are the vineyards of Mount View just west of the town of Cessnock. The terrain of the Upper Hunter is noticeably flatter as the Goulburn River and other tributaries of the Hunter River dominate the area. The greater river system of the Hunter, which includes the Goulburn and important tributaries such as Giants Creek, do provide needed irrigation for areas such as the Upper Hunter than can be prone to drought condition.

The success of the Hunter Valley wine industry has been dominated by its proximity to Sydney with its settlement and plantings in the 19th century fuelled by the trade network that linked the valley to the city. The steady demand of consumers from Sydney continues to drive much of the Hunter Valley wine industry, including a factor in the economy by the tourism industry.

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