Situated 2 hours north of Sydney, the Hunter Valley is a true gem for wine lovers, art lovers and food lovers alike. Originally inhabited by Aboriginal tribes, the valley was first discovered by European settlers in the late 1700′s.
By the early 1800′s about 20 acres of vineyards had been established in the now Dalwood/Gresford area. Early winemakers in this region were George Wyndham of Dalwood, William Kelman of Kirkton and James King of Irrawang. Their legacies were joined by James Busby who, after two study tours of the vineyards of Europe, brought with him 500 vine cuttings from collections and private plantings in Europe and South Africa. On Busby’s first arrival to the Colony, he was accompanied by his sister and a fellow passenger, namely William Kelman. Mr Kelman married Busby’s sister, Catherine and they received one of the first official land grants at Kirkton. They had already a small established vineyard by the time Busby returned with his cuttings and were therefore eager to accommodate these new varieties. The vineyards grew quickly and by 1840 the Hunter Valley had no less than 500 acres of established vineyards.
The wine industry continued to grow in the Valley, but, by the late thirties, the Hunter Valley’s wine activities took a decline. The reason for this was mostly due to the depression and second world war but also because of the public’s preference to purchase fortified wines at cheaper prices. However, fine wine merchants kept the trade and passion of the wine makers alive, ensuring that even in those troubled times, the wines of the Hunter Valley were not forgotten. The wine makers didn’t loose sight of their passion and kept to their trade regardless and by the end of the sixties, fine dry table wines were once again back in fashion and back in demand. Boutique wineries were established and the larger vineyards were once again back in production.
Today, the Hunter Valley is well know within Australia and abroad, producing excellent wines at international standards. The Valley today boasts beautiful wineries, art galleries and a whole array of things to do in this lovely valley – hot air ballooning, horseback riding,golf and cheese tasting would be but to name a few. The Hunter Valley is also an ideal wedding location, with more than enough beautiful locations offering accommodation, venues and fine fare. The Hunter Valley does truly cater for everyone and nobody leaves uninspired or disappointed.
The Mediterranean climate of the valley makes it an ideal destination to visit at all times of the year. Favourite months to visit would be spring and summer as the valley then opens up it’s doors to all her visitors with harvest festivals and open air entertainment galore. In the autumn month of May, the Lovedale Long Lunch is a marked annual event with newcomers and ‘regulars’ alike.
Whether it’s a fine wine, an unforgettable dining experience, or a romantic getaway you are after, the Hunter Valley is sure to leave it’s mark on you, and welcome you back again and again.