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Hunter Valley wine country

One of the historic wine growing areas of Australia, the Hunter Valley at first glance seems ill-suited to producing fine wines: it's too hot, and harvest time is often disrupted by rain. But just a two hour drive from Sydney, it is a great place for some wine tourism, and I was pleasanty surprised by some of the excellent wines that are being made here. This illustrated report includes full details of visits to 12 of the leading producers.

The producers
With over 70 to choose from and only a few days for visits, deciding which wineries to target was a difficult decision. I was fortunate to have some good advice from my Aussie wine contacts, and throughout my winery visits I asked the cellar door staff their opinions of the other wineries in the Hunter -- some of the answers were quite helpful, others unprintable (e.g. secret family feuds and 'pissy wine', to quote one)! Wineries which were highly recommended but which I didn't get a chance to visit included Lakes Folly, Marsh and Thalgara. Otherwise, the list here includes many of the wineries that are considered to be the best in the Valley.  

The pick of the Hunter: the best wines tasted
Overall I tasted some 103 wines; fortunately I was spitting. Here is a selection of 15 of the best, although bear in mind that some of these wines are made from fruit grown outside the Hunter.