Sydney: Side Trips

The Hunter Valley

Wine country wedding chapel, vineyard, in Hunter Valley, Sydney Ozimages / Alamy
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Mention of the Hunter Valley evokes unoaked sémillon and sun-baked, earthy Shiraz. The vineyards of Australia's oldest wine region are a two-hour drive from Sydney. You'll be spoiled for choice, so concentrate on drops you can't get in stores.

Press on to the warmer, drier Broke Fordwich area of the Hunter and you'll reach some small, distinctive vineyards. Broke's Promise, tel: (61-2) 6579 1165, nestles between Yengo National Park and Wollombi Brook, with views to the Brokenback Range. Under Andrew Margan's adept hand, it has been turning out some very fine bottlings. The renowned Hunter varietals are there — the Shiraz in particular is outstanding — plus an aromatic northern Italian – style red, Barbera, that is superb with Mediterranean food. An art gallery features handsome sandstone works by sculptor in residence Samuel Re. Next, stop by Mount Broke Wines, tel: (61-2) 6579 1314, where the McNamara family's low-yield philosophy has allowed winemaker Jim Chatto to produce an exceptional River Bank Shiraz.

If you turn your outing into an overnight trip, stay at the splendidly renovated 1930s cottage at Cockfighter's Ghost Vineyard, tel: (61-2) 4998 7356, named for an explorer's horse that, one stormy night of yore, drowned in Wollombi Brook. But that's no reason not to attempt the area's walks — in daylight.

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