Explore the Hunter Valley

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Annie Gray

One of Australia's premier wine regions just north of Sydney, the Hunter Valley is a great destination to go and see some of the first vineyards in Australia. Although the vineyards were planted in the 1830s, the Hunter Valley has only been renowned as a wine district since the 1970s, popular with visitors for weekends away.

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There is plenty to explore including the amazing wineries and lavish restaurants set in a region of beautiful wilderness. Explore the region from above with a hot air balloon or skydiving. If you prefer being closer to the ground, take a wine tasting tour at the various wineries to learn more about the craft of winemaking and the different types of grapes it takes to make wines so delicate and conversely rich in flavour. The variety of cellar doors in the Hunter Valley is the most in any Australian wine region so there is plenty to discover. Wineries range from larger world-wide renowned  estates to family-owned boutiques including Wandin Valley Estate, Tulloch Wines and Misty Glen Wines.

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The Hunter Valley also offers activities such as golf at either a world-class resort or local clubs, day spas that are offered in various vineyards such as Spa Anise (Spicers Vineyard Estate) and Reflections Day Spa (Adina Vineyard)  as well as health retreats to refine your fitness and health regimes. Ultimately you can tailor your weekend the way you prefer to unwind.

Although there are many wineries, there are lots to do for the kids too. During school holidays there are many markets on and horse rides to be enjoyed by the whole family. Most of the wineries also offer children's menus so even the smallest appetites are catered for. Wine tours are fun but they are not for everyone so if you want something else educational that can be enjoyed by the whole family then there is also the Australian Army Infantry Museum to visit so you can brush up on your knowledge of the ANZACs and see some artefacts such as Army weapons and uniforms from this colonial era. The Mortels Sheepskin Factory also offers a museum as well as factory tours to learn about how wool is transformed from the raw material to the ugg boots we wear to keep our feet warm.

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The Hunter Valley is about 2 hours from Sydney's CBD and is great to visit all year round and especially in the Summer when there are a number of special events on. This Summer, discover 'Sculpture in the Vineyards', a festival of wonderful art exhibits shown throughout many boutique vineyards at Wollombi and a wide array of performances and live music on a number of estates. Check out http://www.winecountry.com.au/events/whats-on for more information.

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