History

Explore the rich history of the Hunter Valley Vineyards!

Are you looking for an adventure trip amidst the landscape-rich Australia, to escape the rat race for a while, reconnect with nature, along with spending some quality time tasting the finest wine?
Well, there is no better way than exploring the Hunter Valley Vineyard, a place known for its rich history, unique charm, ultimate sophistication, and some of the world-famous wines.
In this post, we are going to discuss everything about the Hunter Valley Vineyards including the origin, history, best wineries & wine categories, and the future ahead.

Where is Hunter Valley located?

Hunter Valley is one of the world’s finest wines and food destination nestled in large area just north of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Hunter Valley Region is the home of more than 150 rich, beautiful, and picturesque wineries and played a crucial role in establishing Australia as one of the finest wine producing regions in the world.
The entire Hunter Valley region is divided into many smaller sub-regions such as Audrey Wilkinson Winery, Bimbadgen Winery, Harkham Winery and much more that visitors can explore either as a part of the Hunter Valley wine and food trail or as individual destinations. Each place in the Hunter Valley Vineyard has a lot to offer with its own charm, delicious wines, and subtle nuances in the wine categories.

History of the Hunter Valley Vineyards

Hunter Valley is a highly acclaimed name among the wine aficionados. The place is known for its humble beginnings and a transformational journey, thereafter, to become one of the world’s most respected wine regions today.
Here is the timeline tracing the history of the Hunter Valley Vineyards-

a) Early Aboriginal History

• The very first inhabitants of the Hunter Valley were the Wonnarua people and they are known to have had occupied the upper Hunter Valley region for at least 30,000 years.
• The Wonnarua people were the group of Australians who were largely united by the kinship and the common language. The group was survived by the skilled hunters and fisher gatherers and scattered all around the upper Hunter Valley

b) Beginning of the Early European Settlement

• The local Aboriginal communities’ started vanishing from the Hunter region as the European settlers arrived the country in the early 19th century
• This was the time when most of the Hunter Valley was transformed by occupation and other activities such as cultivation and community building
• The first European who discovered the Hunter Valley region was Lieutenant John Shortland
• During the initial years, the Hunter Valley was established as a source of timber and coal for Sydney and its surrounding areas. It was a chance discovery by Lieutenant John Shortland in the year 1797 during a rapid search he launched in the region for escaped convicts.
• Later, in the year 1820, another European John Howe discovered the first overland route to the Hunter Region. This was the time when a roadway was constructed largely along his path from Windsor to Singleton in 1823.
• Initially, the Hunter Valley was opened to free settlers and agricultural and pastoral activities along with timber and mining activities. Subsequently, during the early l820s, wine grapes were first introduced to the Hunter Valley.

c) The early Hunter Valley Vineyard history

• Among the early pioneers of the Hunter Valley’s rich and subtle winemaking history were William Kelman, George Wyndham, and James King
• Almost 20 acres of vineyards were identified and planted on the northern banks of the river by the year 1830.
• George Wyndham planted the first vineyard at Dalwood in the year 1830. Today, the Wyndham Estate is known as the Hunter Valley’s oldest operating winery and is a well-known name that hosts some of the classiest concerts in the Vineyard
• Later, James Busby brought some 500 vine cuttings drawn from collections and private plantings in Europe and South Africa to the Hunter Valley region. He along with his team took up one of the first official land grants at Kirkton on the Hunter River
• Among the well-known grape varieties brought back by James Busby in 1832 was the Semillon grape. By the year 1840, the Hunter Valley’s registered a total of 500 acres of vineyard area
• During the latter part of the 19th century, four families established vineyards in the Hunter Valley Area namely the Tyrrell, Tulloch, Wilkinson & Drayton families, alongside the well-known winemaker Dr. Henry Lindeman.

d) History of Modern Vineyards

• By the year 1930, the Pokolbin area in the Hunter Valley Region had built a solid reputation for world’s best quality wine production
• Under the leadership of Maurice O’Shea of Mount Pleasant and Ben Ean of Lindeman’s, Australia’s reputed winemakers, a team of qualified winemakers together enhanced the Hunter Valley’s reputation in Sydney and Melbourne
• Later Dr. Max Lake established Lake’s Folly, Hunter’s first boutique winery in 1963 and maintained the rich wine characteristic of the region with great clarity of structure and unique length of flavor

e) Hunter Valley Vineyards of today

• Today, the Hunter Valley Vineyard is known as one of Australia’s as well as World’s most well-known wine regions
• With more than 150 amazing wineries engaged in the production of a wide array of exceptional wines, speak volumes about the rich history and charm of the Hunter Valley region

Must try wines at Hunter Valley

It won’t be wrong to say that Hunter Valley wine tasting is an enriching experience that can let the wine lovers enjoy the truly distinctive wine styles of the region. Among the must-try wines of the Hunter region includes the unique Semillon and Shiraz, Hunter Valley’s red wine staple.
Although the Hunter Valley wineries are largely known to produce Semillon and Shiraz, another name associated with the rich history of the Hunter Valley is Chardonnay, produced from Verdelho grapes.
Lately, the Hunter Valley wineries are experimenting with a host of newer-to-Australia wine varieties such as Vermentino, Barbera, and Tempranillo.

a) About Shiraz

Shiraz is the most popular and preferred red wine variety of the Hunter Valley. In fact, Shiraz is now synonymous with red wines of the Hunter Valley region. Shiraz is among the most elegant wine of the Hunter region that age brilliantly between ten and thirty years.

b) About Semillon

Hunter Valley vineyards are pretty famous for producing this unique white wine from the grape Semillon. It is believed that the unique and delicious Hunter Valley staple Semillon wines are not produced and replicated anywhere else in the world.
Semillon today enjoys a special place in the world wine industry and is considered as the benchmark by many world-renowned wine tasters’.
Other than Shiraz and Semillon, the region is home to some of the most wonderful vineyards and produces amazing wines such as Chardonnay, Bordeaux, Pomeral, Vermentino, Barbera, Médoc, Entre-Deux-Mers, and Sauternes, to name a few.

The amazing Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival

Whether you are an Australian native or not, this greatly anticipated Hunter Valley wine and food festival is something you cannot miss. It is an annual event that showcases the regions rich history in the form of diverse wine and food culture with a series of other themed activities.
If you’re running short of time, there is, in fact, no better way to see some of the best of wineries of the hunter region than attending this festival.

Hunter Valley Vineyards-The Road Ahead

With its rich winemaking history of over 150 years, Hunter Valley region holds great potential for future. It is, however, important to realize by the wine drinkers and the wine industry stewards that the region is not just great to explore the iconic styles of the Hunter Valley but is also completely adaptable to modern wine drinking culture.