Calling all wine aficionados!

Australian vino is world renowned, and there’s no better way to taste the broad spectrum of our grape varietals than by travelling to two of the country’s best wine growing regions – the Hunter and Yarra Valleys.

Here’s your guide to these picturesque, bountiful parts of Australia and how to navigate them with the prowess of a wine connoisseur. Ensure there is a designated driver each day of your trip!

Hooray for Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Ever since the 1820s, vintners have been lovingly tending to their vines to craft some world-class wines in Hunter. As the oldest wine growing region in Australia, Hunter Valley boasts over 150 wineries. In addition, there are 60 restaurants with scrumptious cuisine dotted around along with boutique breweries and distilleries. History buffs will enjoy a visit to the Audrey Wilkinson winery, first opened back in 1866, as there are museum-style displays of vintage wine making equipment here.

While you are here, you absolutely must try the region’s novelty, Hunter Valley Semillon. Dry white wines made from Semillon are a hallmark of the terroir of the Hunter Valley, and they shine on your palette thanks to being picked early and transfusing into vanilla and honey flavours as they mature. For those of you who hold red wine close to your heart, the Hunter Valley Shiraz is also critically acclaimed and of a medium body that is the idyllic accompaniment to a fine steak.

A perk of visiting vineyards in Hunter Valley is that they expertly match your favourite blends with cheeses and chocolates. What more could one ask for? Just head on over to the cellar door tastings offered by most of the vineyards here and find ‘the one’ you love best. You’ll know it as soon as you smell its aromatic scent and the first drops cascade across your tongue.

To cheer ‘hooray’ yourself in Hunter, drive from Sydney for just over two hours and you will be in the realm of this wine wonderland.

Yippee for Yarra Valley, Victoria 

While it may not be as historic as Hunter (although it wasn’t far behind, tracing its roots to 1838), Yarra Valley is bathed in a natural beauty befitting a John Constable or William Turner landscape painting. One of the best ways to truly admire this beauty is to book a tour onboard a hot air balloon and see the lush green rows of grape vines from the skies above.

Hot air ballooning is such a revered tourist activity in Yarra that it has now been made a festival, with its inaugural opening this October on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25. The timing coincides with the end of the annual Cox Plate Race Day, which is another great reason to visit Yarra (apart from the wine, of course!). If you’re in Yarra over these dates in October, be sure to participate in the commercial balloon flights and drink in the sights and scenery of Yarra before drinking the wines, too.

Seeing the sun rise over the undulating hills of Yarra Valley is a mesmerising experience.
Seeing the sun rise over the undulating hills of Yarra Valley is a mesmerising experience.

There’s a wide spectrum of wineries in Yarra, ranging from large architectural estates to rustic tin sheds swathed in green surrounds. Considering it is a short drive from Melbourne, it’s no surprise that food is a big focus in Yarra. Local produce is celebrated and matched to the tones of wines in vineyard restaurants, in a delightful collaboration that would even make Dionysus, the Ancient Greek god of wine, feel happy.

Indulge in scrumptious cuisine, sip on vino and soak in the scenic surrounds of green hillsamong mountains with emerald green vines snaking their way throughout. A trip to Yarra Valley is full to the brim with ‘life is good’ moments, even without the dopamine released from the grapes in your glass!