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The Hunter Valley, is a region of New South Wales, Australia, extending from approximately 120 km (75 mi) to 310 km (193 mi) north of Sydney. It contains the Hunter River and its tributaries with highland areas to the north and south. The Hunter Valley is one of the largest river valleys on the NSW coast, and is most commonly known for its wineries and coal industry.
The Hunter Valley is a major tourist destination in New South Wales and is the 6th most visited place in Australia attracting more than 2.5 million people annually. There are regular events held in the Hunter for visitors, including the Hunter Valley Steam Trains running the first three Sundays of each month and regular scenic cruises on the Hunter River and Lake Macquarie.
The Hunter Valley is one of Australia's best known wine regions. The first vines in the Hunter Valley were planted by families in the 1820s, making the Hunter Valley the oldest wine region in Australia. The region has played a pivotal role in the history of Australian wine as one of the first wine regions planted in the early 19th century. Pokolbin is the centre of the Hunter Valley Wine Country. Much of the rolling countryside around Pokolbin is under vine with the traditional varieties Shiraz and Semillon (widely considered the iconic wine of the region) as well as extensive plantings of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Verdelho and small quantities of Pinot Noir. The Pokolbin area has a large number of vineyards, restaurants, shops, golf courses and country guesthouses. Other parts of the valley including the Wollombi Valley and Broke Fordwich Wine Region are also well known for wine.
Under Australia's wine appellation system, the Hunter Region is one Geographic Indication (GI) that is sub-divided into the Upper and Lower Hunter Valley. Within the Lower Hunter Valley is the recognised sub-region of Broke Fordwich. The traditional (or Hunter Proper) is the Lower Hunter Valley. Much of the history of Hunter was played out in this area and it is generally what is referred as the Hunter Valley wine country. The majority of the Hunter Valley's most prestigious vineyards are located on the southern valley and foothills of the Brokenback range (part of the Great Dividing Range). The topography of the Hunter includes mostly gently sloping hills with modest gradients. The one notable exception are the vineyards of Mount View just west of the town of Cessnock. The terrain of the Upper Hunter is noticeably flatter as the Goulburn River and other tributaries of the Hunter River dominate the area.
The success of the Hunter Valley wine industry has been dominated by its proximity to Sydney with its settlement and plantings in the 19th century fuelled by the trade network that linked the valley to the city. The steady demand of consumers from Sydney continues to drive much of the Hunter Valley wine industry, including a factor in the economy by the tourism industry.
The Hunter Valley is also renowned for its fine dining, cooking schools, galleries, health spa retreats and golf courses. Here you can sample local cheeses, hand-made chocolates, charcuterie, dairy goods, sourdough breads and olive oils direct from the producers. Join a wine tasting master class; or sample a broad selection of wines at one of more than 150 cellar doors. After your epicurean indulgence, escape to the great outdoors with a game of golf, hot-air balloon or helicopter ride or shopping for antiques and local artworks in the region's many galleries.