The Hunter Valley is home to 120 spectacular wineries and if you want to taste your way ‘round them, you ain’t driving. Book into Hunter Valley YHA, rent an electric bikes (more on this later), and strap into your helmet for the very best Hunter experience!
Hunter Valley YHA is just a hop, skip and a jump from all the wineries you could possibly want to visit (and it sits on its very own vineyard!), and, unlike many other nearby options, won’t dip into your wine budget to stay for a few nights! Boasting an outdoor pizza oven, in-ground pool, a range of private and Multishare rooms and bike hire, there’s literally no better option for your Hunter Valley adventure.
If you heed no other advice in this article, please listen to this: rent electric bikes. This region is deceptively hill-y and we’d hate for you to be too exhausted to keep bottoms-upping (which will most definitely happen if you rent good ol’ manual bikes). Hunter Valley YHA offers electric bikes at $50 per person, per day and we promise you that’s a damn good deal that you’ll be happy you took at the end of the day! Rent these from Reception when you check in.
You could spend months visiting and tasting each and every drop in these parts (the dream) so this is by no means a complete list, but a good itinerary that forms a loop from and back to the hostel.
How better to start the day than with some bubbles! Literally, the cellar door has cleverly installed a bubble machine so your body and your tastebuds can be immersed at the same time. Nice touch. You’ll work up a thirst on the 15 to 20 minute ride from Hunter Valley YHA which’ll be quenched by a sequence of bubbly wines working your way up from the light, crisp Prosecco to the complex and intriguing Sparkling Malbec. Tastings are $5 per person which is refunded upon any purchase. There’s a super pretty view of the vineyards if you fancy a glass whilst sitting on the balcony, too.
Life hack: head back here tomorrow morning for a truly special breakfast, overlooking said vineyards. If you’re still craving vino, or are desperately seeking hair of the dog, they’ve got killer meal and bevvy combos.
The McGuigan staff are struggling to keep up with all the awards their wines are winning! International Winemaker of the Year 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2016; this is seriously not a cellar door to miss. Line up along the long chestnut bar and settle in for a complimentary taste of their bubbles, whites, roses and; most deliciously, reds. Do yourself a favour and sample the Montepulciano. Game changer.
Just across the road from McGuigan lies Roche Estate, home to the cellar doors of Tempus Two and Meerea Park Wines, as well as the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop, Oishii and Goldfish Hunter Valley. First head to Tempus Two for a complimentary tasting of their copper and gold class wines, or perhaps even take a seat in the private tasting room for a quiet drop, or two. Then, pop on over to Meera Park Wines, home to the 5-and-a-half/5 Shiraz (their Pinot Noir gets top marks, too). Well worth the $5 tasting fee – especially if you purchase a bottle, as it gets refunded.
If you’re feeling peckish, hightail it to The Smelly Cheese shop for cheese and olive tasting and the tastiest sandwich you ever did meet. Fancy something a little more substantial? Oishii is a Japanese/Thai fusion restaurant, whilst Goldfish offers all your gastro-pub greatest hits served with a side of small-bar cocktails. All of these outlets overlook the sprawling Roche Estate so you can breathe in all that wine county air!
By this point of the day, your little legs are getting tired and you’re yearning for a sprawling view and yet another glass of the good stuff. Make a beeline for Hope Estate’s Cellar Door, propped atop their amphitheatre with to-die-for views of their expansive vineyards and beyond. Here, wine tastings are complimentary for groups of 10 or less, beer paddles set you back $12 and you can taste their house-made dukkah and beer cheese. Yup, cheese made with beer. Genius. There's also regular weekend markets scheduled if you fancy sampling candles, oysters and homemade jams alongside your vino.
We recommend you pick your tipple of choice and head out to the lush couches overlooking the grounds. You’ve worked hard so far, and you deserve a little rest! FYI: Hope Estate hosts tonnes of big, international acts (hello Elton John!) so drink up knowing you're on hallowed ground.
Head Scarborough way for the epic Insta-opportunity, stay for the comprehensive tasting experience! Choose from the Offshoot, Classic and The Obsessive ranges to taste as a group for $5pp which, again, is refundable with purchase and takes around 15 minutes, or opt for a 90 minute leisurely exploration through all three ranges plus cheese and local smallgoods at $40pp. Mmm.
Having cheers’ed with the best of them, you know that all vinos are not made equal, which is why a trip to Tamburlaine Organic Wine is a must-do. If you’re really keen to brush up on your wine knowledge, book a 90 minute Behind the Scenes tour which includes a winery and vineyard tour followed by a structured wine and cheese tasting for $35pp. Short on time? Sign up for the $10 casual tasting and work your way through the organic goodness.
Once you’ve pedalled your way back to Hunter Valley YHA, you’ll need a shower and a minute or two to regain your composure and remember what it’s like to walk on two feet again (how did we bike all day as kids?!). Once you’ve readjusted, you’re going to want to dine like the cycling Kings and Queens you are – and we daren’t recommend you anywhere but Blaxland Inn. YHA Members (that’s you!) score a free shuttle service to and from Hunter Valley YHA so book in and prepare yourselves for game-changing meals, boutique wines and country hospitality. You’ll feel super boujee when you realise you were at the Cellar Doors of many of the winemakers on the Drinks Menu! Blaxland Inn is known for their out-of-this-world steak, just FYI.
Guys, you’re in wine country and the night is young! Catch the shuttle back to Potters Brewery, just a few minutes’ walk from the hostel, for a good ol’ pub night. Flowing drinks, happy locals and Saturday karaoke – sounds like the perfect end to the perfect day to us!