First Timers Guide to the Hunter Valley


Hunter Valley, the only place where it is not only socially acceptable to drink wine at 10:30 in the morning, it’s encouraged!

Just under two hours drive from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is often the weekend getaway destination for Sydneysiders. It seems like everyone and their dog has already been there, and for a first-timer, it may all seem a little overwhelming. With 150 wineries to choose from, it’s hard to pick what wineries are best for you. So spend less time Googling and more time drinking with our list of the best picks of the crop in Hunter Valley.

mistletoe wines hunter valley

Mistletoe Wines – For the warm welcome

The romance is in the air at Mistletoe Winery, owned by loving couple Ken and Gwen since it’s creation in 1989. A humble abode, where family photos hang the wall, and their personal knick knacks are on display. Mistletoe have a great selection of wines, ranging from their 2014 Reserve Semillion, to their Hunter Verdelho, to their 2014 Shiraz and Merlot. They also have a range of dessert wines including their popular “Turkish Delight in a Bottle” called the Noble Viognier, (rhymes with Good on Ya.) We recommend the Petillant “Sparkling” Rose 2014 for a nice, bubbly surprise. Described as one of their many “Verandah Wines” named after the best place to drink it. It may be a bit of a drive from the main part of the town, but it certainly is worth the trip.

Mistletoe Winery 771 Heritage Road, Pokolbin  

De Illius

De Illius Winery – For Wine and Cheese

De Illius (pronounced Dee Ule-i-us) is notoriously hard to pronounce, but is very easy to drink. Their cellar door features many robust, full-flavoured wines that pair well with cheese. So much so, that they have devoted hour long sessions to the perfect combo that is Wine & Cheese, at their gourmet cafe and deli. Nine of the best local, national and international cheeses are featured on the menu and all come with wine pairing suggestions. The first two are labne and feta from Binnorie Dairy, down the road, which pairs beautifully with a dry white like their De Iulius 09 Sparkling Chardonnay and a De Iuliis 15 Semillon. The tasting will take you through different cheddars, soft cheeses till it comes to the polarising Southern Creamy Blue Cheese, which they pair with a De Iulius ’13 Late picked Semillion. A truly delicious experience.

De Illius 1616 Broke Rd, Pokolbin

audrey wilkinson winery hunter valley

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Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard – Best View

With a view that would have Darryl Kerrigan say “How’s the serenity,” Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard is a must-see in the Hunter. Their cellar door sits on top of a foot hill over Brokenback Mountain ranges, where vineyards stretch far and wide, providing the best photo op in the valley. Having being established in 1896, the winery has an extensive list of wines, ranging from the party starter Moscato to the cherry noted Tempranillo. Helpful and passionate staff are ready to assist you with the hard decision ahead of you, all with full knowledge of the wines, and their history. There is also a Museum adjacent to the cellar door, which will let you in on the secrets of their winemaking process, and the long history of Audrey Wilkinson.

Audrey Wilkinson 750 De Beyers Rd, Pokolbin 

gundog estate hunter valley

Gundog Estate – Best Service

Littered all over the Gundog Estate are life-sized, brightly coloured statues with a beagle head on a human’s body. This bizarre (and Instagram-famous) decoration shows the humour of this fun little winery, and it’s staff. But no matter how much they like to play around, Gundog Estate are very serious about their wines. The reds are the star here. Their 2015 Estate Shiraz won the Silver medal at the 2015 Wine Awards, and it is easy to see why. Gundog also ofter a dry red called 2015 Smoking Barrel, which is a lighter drink.

Gundog Estate 101 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin 


Tulloch – Innovative thinkers 

In 2003, Christina Tulloch became the General Manager of Tulloch Winery, taking over from her father Jay, and the many men that proceeded before him. Tulloch proudly claims how Christina is bringing their winery into the 21st century with her innovative thinking of what wine people actually want to drink these days. Every bottle of wine comes with it’s own tale of how it was created, or introduced to the winery. Their Verscato – a combination of Moscato and Verdhello – is an example of this, introduced to the winery by Christina, who noticed the rise of Moscato sales in Australia over recent years. Another innovation at Tulloch is their chocolate and wine pairings. This is a winery very proud of their history, and looking forward to the future.

Tulloch Wines De Beyers Rd, Pokolbin


Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard and Farm – they have peacocks!

Krinklewood Winery is unlike any you’ve been to before. Located in the Broke-Fordwich subregion of the Hunter Valley, their boutique cellar door and biodynamic winery is set amongst beautiful Provencal style gardens overlooking the vineyards and olive trees. You’ll feel instantly relaxed as chickens and peacocks parade around the entrance to the cellar door. It all makes for a beautiful wine tasting experience. The cellar door is open Fri – Sun from 10am- 4.30pm and offers guests a unique Hunter Valley winery experience with award winning biodynamic organic wines available for tasting. Cheese platters are available if you wish to sit and enjoy the cellar door gardens and at key seasonal times they have homegrown seasonal produce such as honey, olive oil and eggs.

Krinklewood 712 Wollombi Road, Broke, NSW, 2330


Circa 1876 Restaurant

Circa 1876 is one of the Hunter Valley’s most iconic restaurant, located in a historic cottage on the picturesque grounds of Roscrea Estate. Circa 1876 showcases some great Hunter Valley wines in an award-winning wine list. Or you can experience the eclectic charm of the Champagne Lounge, with its open fire. The restaurant offers two-course, three-course, and a five-course chef’s tasting menu options.

Circa 1876 

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