Hunter Valley Wine Country
Hunter Valley Wine Country: (32° 46′ 53″S, 151° 20′ 38″E) Visitors’ Centre, 455 Wine Country Drive, Pokolbin; or try Bicycle hire from Hunter Valley Cycling (32° 46′ 22″S, 151° 18′ 00″E), Hunter Valley Gardens, Broke Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2325 (+61 2 4998 6633) both about 20 km due north of the Great North Walk at Congewai.
The Hunter Valley’s spectacular backdrop plays host to more than 110 wineries and cellar doors offering tastings as stunning as the setting. You can savour both the craftsmanship of some of Australia’s biggest names in winemaking or uncover a cherished prize in a boutique cellar door that greets you at the end of a gently winding country lane.
The Hunter Valley is Australia’s most historic family winemaking region – many such as Drayton, Sobels, Tulloch and Tyrrell’s are fifth generation vignerons who have all stamped Hunter Valley wines with their unique winemaking style. These iconic families are now joined by an emerging breed of young winemakers keen to demonstrate innovation in their craft with some exciting new techniques and wine styles unfolding – including organic and biodynamic wine production.
With fabulous wines, spectacular location, an abundance of fresh produce and local gourmet products has attracted some of Australia’s most talented and award-winning chefs, advocating a seasonal approach to their menus and cuisine. Sharing the same passion for the Hunter Valley as our winemakers, local food producers have created an array of gourmet fare with a distinctive Hunter Valley flavour.
Step into any restaurant or café in Wine Country and you’re in for a fun-filled treat for all the senses: a riot of colour, heady aromas, tantalising tastes and stunning vineyard view add to the laughter of great company or the intimate ambiance of a romantic dinner for two. The venues are a twist of old and new, the vistas are breathing and the service is delivered by refreshingly warm professionals.
Wine may be the heart of the Hunter Valley but it’s the local artisans who lend it soul. Wander the galleries and antiques trail to find your original piece of Hunter Valley to take home, or remove the layers of your other life at one of our world-class day spas. Attentive and experienced staff work their calming magic so you emerge renewed and refreshed.
What ever your pleasure may be, you will be sure to find it amongst the grapes and vines of the Hunter Valley.
Annual Events include Lovedale Long Lunch (May); Bimbadgen Blues (September); Opera in the Vineyards (September) and Jazz in the Vines (December).
The Great North Walk Companion extract- pages 213-214
Well, my father, Bruce Bailey, was also in the war but luckier than Douglas. Bruce was South African. He volunteered for the British Army but ended up serving in Borneo with a large contingent of Aussie troops. Got to know them and liked them and, most importantly, heard from someone about the embryonic wine industry here.”
“He knew about wine already?” I ask.
“Oh yes, his uncle grew vines. He used to receive letters from Stellenbosch, I remember.”
“Bruce managed to grab a passage to Sydney after he was demobbed and came straight out here. Cessnock was growing fast and there was land to buy around Millfield itself. If you’d like to see where we lived I can take you a quick ride out there.”
We agree and all pile into Alice’s car and take the Wollombi Road towards Cessnock. At the corner of this road with Kendall Street, we see the Bellbird Mining Disaster Memorial located in a small park opposite the site of the Bellbird Colliery. We stop for a brief visit to take a picture and read the history of the September 1923 disaster. Then up Bimbadeen Road where Alice points out the land holdings that Bruce Bailey bought for wine growing in the late 1940s. “Do you know when he met Isabelle?” I ask.
“Well, they met in Millfield, I think. And it must have been ‘love at first sight’ (my companion and I share a glance at the romantic notion) because they were married here in July 1946.”
“And then you came along?”
“Well, William first, in 1949, then me,” she agrees, “a year later. By then Dad had bought another place, which is where most of the vines went in. We’ll go over to that property; it’s on Marrrowbone Road, a bit further north.”
“If we wanted to finish walking the Great North Walk spur to Pokolbin we would have taken the trail out of Millfield due north, passed Bimbadeen Road and walked Mount Bright Road up to Pokolbin proper, which would have taken us past the old Bailey vineyard,” I comment.