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Hi

We went to the Hunter Valley in August - it was fun. Not as stylish or glossy as say visiting the Napa region but everyone very friendly, tastings are free and there are a few hidden gems.

http://www.winecountry.com.au/viewmap.aspx?mapid=4 is a great map that shows you pretty much all the wineries in the region apart from a couple of new ones.

OUr favourites were (in no particular order):

Meerea Park
Calais
Brokenwood
Lake's Folly
Bimbagen Estate (push the boat out and have lunch at esca - amazing food, wine and food, $$$ but worth it - you need a reservation)
McWilliams Mount Pleasant
Tyrells (not open on Sundays)
Hungerford Hill

Couple of others I can't remember - a really big futuristic one with a Thai/Japanese restaurant - very fancy tasting room - you can't miss it.

I did a search on WS to find highly rated wines from the Hunter Valley and then we added those wineries to our list.

I don't know what wine you like but a lot of the wineries will offer you 12 or more tastings, we soon figured out that that it was better to miss out the earlier ones and start with the good stuff. Also - in the afternoon the wineries will ask you "how many wineries have you been to?" this is so they can see if you've been to too many in their opinion and maybe had too much to drink.

The Smelly Cheese shop is worth a visit if you like cheese.

Also - there's a small Hunter Valley zoo where you can get quite close to the kangaroos and koalas
It's been many years since I went to the Hunter, which strictly speaking is split into the Upper Hunter and the Lower Hunter, with the Lower Hunter being the old established region.

For me the absolute must visit places in the Hunter are Tyrells and McWilliams Mt Pleasant. I would probably put Brokenwood on that list too, but since I haven't been there myself I can't personally recommend it. If you get to the Upper Hunter Rosemount Estate is well worth a visit.

Peter Howland is an Australian winemaker who posts on the boards regularly, and he is based in Newcastle, the main town of the Hunter Valley. Try paging him on the Wine Discussion board and he may be able to give you a few pointers. His wine is very highly recommended, but he doesn't actually make wine sourced from Hunter Valley fruit.

PS Avoid visiting the Hunter on weekends if you can. It's very close to Sydney and gets completely overrun and crowded on weekends.

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