For the first time in its 12-year history, the Wine Media Conference will be held outside North America. Taking place in the historic Hunter Valley, New South Wales (NSW), it’s an excellent opportunity for bloggers, writers and industry members to experience the oldest continuous wine region and the birthplace of the Australian wine industry. NSW is home to incredibly diverse wine country across its 14 wine regions, from warm, coastal climates to cool alpine regions. Hunter Valley’s bright, citrus-driven semillion is revered globally, as is its distinctive shiraz. Other wine regions produce excellent expression of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc, among others. There will be ample opportunity to taste Hunter Valley wines as well as take part in one of six excursions in the region. There are also optional post-conference excursions to three other wine regions – Orange, Riverina and Mudgee – or add a few days onto your trip to discover NSW’s bounteous regions yourself.
The Hunter Valley
Just an hour’s drive north of NSW’s capital, Sydney, Australia’s oldest and most famous wine region is steeped in history. Many highly regarded Australian wine makers and long-established wine families made their name here and continue to create excellent wine today, along with newer, younger winemakers. The first vines were established in the 1820s and grew in reputation thanks to the work of vignerons such as George Wyndham, Dr. Henry Lindeman and Audrey Wilkinson. Maurice O’Shea is considered by some as the father of modern Australian winemaking – he started making excellent table wines in the 1920s at a time when most Australians were drinking fortified wine. The McWilliams family bought his estate but let O’Shea keep making wines; the family still owns and makes wine at this estate today.
Conference attendees will have the chance to learn about the region through a tasting session as well as a series of excursions. On the Friday afternoon, a Live Red Wine Blogging session will take place, with 25 wineries (with a number of them from Hunter Valley) pouring one wine each for attendees to taste and analyse. Afterwards, guests can go on one of six excursions to local wineries, which will offer education, tastings, stunning scenery, dinner and the chance to meet winemakers. As a sample – on one excursion guests will visit four wineries, Mt. Pleasant, Brokenwood, De Iuliis and then stay for dinner at Margan Winery & Restaurant, a pioneer of agri-dining with a strong commitment to ethically sourced foods. Guests will stay at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, a resort with golf, tennis, a heated pool and on-site spa.
Along with the Hunter Valley, the Wine Media Conference will give attendees the opportunity to explore one of three other stunning wine regions in NSW.
The town of Orange, 260 kilometres west from Sydney in the Central Ranges, is characterised by a high altitude and a unique blend of soils, with limestone, shales and slate overlain by basalt-rich soils. Vines were planted in the 19th century but it really didn’t pick up as a wine region until the 1980s and ‘90s; it’s now known as one of Australia’s most exciting districts, producing excellent chardonnay, pinot noir, shiraz and riesling. On this trip, you’ll discover why it’s considered a major food capital within Australia, and its beautiful vistas and historic towns. Explore the quaint town of Milthorpe, travel up Mount Canobolas, dine at the Agrestic Grocer and visit Rowlee Wines, Printhie Wine, Ross Hill Wines and the award-winning Philip Shaw wines. On the way back to Sydney you’ll have a picnic lunch with a view of the Three Sisters in Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains – one of NSW’s most famous natural icons. The Orange Wine Festival is held on 18-27 October, 2019.
The largest wine-growing region in NSW is centred on the town of Griffith and is characterised by red-brown earth containing limestone rubble. It receives lots of sunshine and low rainfall, producing mostly chardonnay, shiraz and semillon as well as fiano, vermentino, nero d’avola and pinot grigio. It has a strong food and wine culture, largely due to the large Italian population, and you’ll find a number of well-established Australian wine families here. On the excursion, you’ll see sculptures made of citrus fruits, explore the sites of Griffith, visit the Pioneer Park Museum which tells the history of the area and visit significant wineries McWilliam’s Wines, Yellowtail and de Bortoli Wines.
Three hours’ drive west from the Hunter Valley across the Great Dividing Range, this region has a higher altitude and cooler climate, with low rainfall, with quartz, seabed and sandstone in some of the favoured sites. The 35 wineries produce mainly cabernet sauvignon with generous flavours and depth of colour, as well as chardonnay, riesling, semillon and shiraz. Discover the region’s colonial gold rush history and UNESCO World Heritage wilderness. You’ll try the excellent fine-dining restaurant Pipeclay Pumphouse, fromagerie High Valley Cheese Co, browse boutique shops, as well as wineries Lowe Wines, Logan Wines, Moothi Estate and Burnbrae Wines.
Find out more about NSW’s regions at visitnsw.com