Any tour of the area's vineyards should begin at Pokolbin's Hunter Valley Wine Country Visitors Information Centre, which has free maps of the vineyards, brochures, and a handy visitor's guide.
From Sydney, AAT Kings operates a daylong wine-tasting bus tour of the Hunter Valley and another to Hunter Valley Gardens. Buses collect passengers from hotels, then make a final pickup from the Star City (Sydney Casino) bus terminal, departing at 8 am. The tour returns to the casino at 6:15 pm. Tours cost from A$170, including lunch and wine tasting.
To avoid driving after sampling too many wines, hop aboard one of the Wine Rover buses, which will pick you up from Pokolbin or Cessnock. These minibuses travel between restaurants and about a dozen wineries, allowing you to hop on and off during the day. A day pass with unlimited stops is A$45 during the week and A$55 on weekends.
Local operator Heidi's Hunter Valley operates personalized day tours to the wineries and restaurants in a sleek four-wheel-drive vehicle. Heidi Duckworth, who worked for the Hunter Valley Wine Tourism organization for 12 years, knows all the best places in the valley.
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