Hunter Valley Australia: Australian Wine, Award-winning Premium Australian Wine

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Australian Wine
Destinations - First person reports from the world's best international travel and adventure travel destinationsWorld Travel Destinations in Australia

Hunter Valley Australia - Australian Wine

Sydney Australia Gourmet Excursions and Day Trips - Hunter Valley

Renewing the Spirit
by Bruce Holmes - Part 1

Sitting down to dinner you realise your friend has brought an Australian wine, the McGuigan Bin 2000 Shiraz from the Hunter Valley, having seen it rated in Wine Spectator magazine. And as you begin to enjoy the first glass you wonder what the Hunter Valley is like, especially if you didn't make it to Sydney for the Olympics.

Since a colonial settler from Scotland planted the first French and Spanish vines in 1825, the Hunter has grown to be one of the premier wine-producing regions of Australia with more than 70 wineries.

Almost all of them have tasting rooms where visitors can sample wines before they buy. The bigger companies have really expanded their facilities to cater for the growing influx of tourists.

Interested visitors can learn about the winemaking process. Lindemans and Golden Grape Estate have winemaking museums displaying wine technology back to the 19th century. Tours explain the process from grape to bottle. At the McGuigan complex you can see the membrane pressing machine, fermentation vats and those famous oak barrels.

The Hunter Resort even offers a two hour Wine School course covering wine history, assessment and styles, as well as palate evaluation. This includes a technical tour of the winery, and a certificate.

All this talk of wine giving you an appetite? Well you won't go hungry here. The Hunter Valley has fine dining, resort restaurants, brasseries and cottages offering all sorts of cuisine.

These range from the award-winning Chez Pok, Robert's and Casuarina, to the Cafe Max at the Small Winemakers Center and the help yourself choices at the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory in McDonalds Road.

Conceived in 1995, the cheese factory has viewing windows to the making and maturation rooms. In the tasting room try a variety of cheeses. I particularly liked the Grape Vine Ashed Brie, made using a dust of local grapevine ash to slow the maturation process. Sounds doubtful? You'll be surprised.

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