Wine is a big thing here in Australia, a really big thing!
A trip to the bottle shop (liquor/wine store) and you will find an amazing selection of wines from Australia and New Zealand, and usually, from nowhere else. Unbelievably, you can walk into a fair sized bottle shop, a Californian Cabernet? Nope. A French Bordeaux? Nope. A Canadian Pinot? Never! I am not saying you can't get any of these great imports here, but it's just that the average bottle shop mostly carries only Aussie and Kiwi wine. Why? Because they make some of the best wines in the world here. And we have discovered we are spoiled to live right amongst it :-)
There are so many diverse regions of wine here in Australia and New Zealand. But essentially, they can be divided between the cool climate wine regions and the warm climate wine regions. The cool climate regions include notables such as Barossa Valley in South Australia where the big bold reds are grown. Think Penfolds Grange. Also for cool climate, Pinot Noir is amazing from New Zealand and Tasmania. New Zealand is famous for it's Sauvignon Blancs, which taste like no other I have had. But here in the warmer north (remember southern hemisphere), we have the Hunter Valley.
To see what all the talk was about, Nancy and I decided to spend a beautiful fall weekend up in "the Hunter" as it is affectionately known. About a 2.5 hour drive north from Sydney, the Hunter is an amazing mix of large and boutique wineries nestled between some very picturesque hills.