Four Hunter Valley restaurants won hats in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, 2017.
The Hunter Valley gets its name from Captain John Hunter who was Governor of the British colony in New South Wales at the time (1797). The region had been occupied by Aboriginal tribes at least 30,000 years before European settlement. The sprawling valley extends from 120 km to 310 km north of Sydney. It’s an easy two hour drive from Sydney giving weekend access to Sydney-siders wishing to change the fast pace of city life for tranquil, verdant countryside. Coal mining, wine growing and tourism fuel the economic growth of the region.
I’m not the only person who has long believed that the red soil in many of the best vineyards of the Hunter Valley was volcanic in origin. It’s enshrined in all of the reference books and taught in schools. Now, I know better. It is in fact terra rossa, derived from underlying limestone – similar to the famous soils of Coonawarra. A marine soil, not volcanic. “Close your eyes and open them again and you’d swear you were in Coonawarra,” says John Davis, owner of Pepper Tree winery. In fact there is plenty of limestone in the Hunter Valley, says Davis, and he can prove it by taking you for a quick tour of his Tallavera Grove vineyard, in the Hunter’s picturesque Mount View sub-region.