For visitors staying in serviced apartments, Sydney offers a wide range of activities. One popular activity is Hunter Valley wine tours. The Hunter Valley is easily accessible from Sydney and the region has a long history of wine making:
- The first wineries
Vineyards began appearing the Hunter Valley area in the early 1800s. These areas were located north of the Hunter River near Singleton. Other areas of Sydney were also planted with vines, but these plantings were not successful. The Hunter vines grew plentifully and wine production became centred in the area.
- James Busby
The father of the Hunter Valley wineries was James Busby. He was a Scottish man who bought land in the area of the Hunter River. In 1831, he travelled around Europe and visited many wine growing regions. He returned with a large number of cuttings from the European market and planted them on his own land. This was the beginning of the Hunter wine industry as a viable concern.
Busby’s cuttings were soon loaned to other growers, including his brother in law William Kelman. Busby cuttings were also used by George Wyndham to start his own business, the now famous Wyndham wines.
- The mid to late 19th Century
Hunter Valley wines were popular during the 19th century and they were protected by law. New South Wales did not allow importation of wine from other states, so the Hunter region had a monopoly on the Sydney wine market. The location of the wineries, close to the Hunter River, made transportation of the wine to Sydney easy and inexpensive.
In 1847, the first Hunter wine society was created, and in the 1850s the wines began winning international awards. In 1855, Hunter wine won several prizes at a Paris exhibition. In the 1860s, the wine growing region spread to include areas near Pokolbin.
- The early 20th Century
With the coming of Federation in the 1900s, the Hunter Valley monopoly in New South Wales was broken. Wines from South Australia and Victoria were now available and proved to be more popular than those from the Hunter. The industry declined, and the public taste changed from Hunter wines to other varieties.
The post World War 1 period saw a brief rise in Hunter wine popularity, but this was destroyed by the great depression. It was not until the 1960s that Hunter wines regained their popularity.
- The mid to late 20th Century
In the 1960s, Hunter wineries began marketing Semillon, a wine for which the region became famous. Other red wine varieties were also grown and marketed with great success. The emergence of the Hunter as a wine growing region was built on the production of red wines such as Shiraz and Semillon.
Chardonnay also had a resurgence in the area and combined with the red wine boom, produced a solid basis for a successful Hunter industry.
Today Hunter Valley wine tours are one of the most popular attractions for locals and visitors in Sydney. A one day tour of the Hunter is a must for wine connoisseurs or business travellers and details can be obtained from concierges in hotels and serviced apartments. Sydney now produces many wines with international reputations and a visit to their growing region is a wonderful experience.