It’s a huge day in the ever-evolving Hunter Valley with wine industry legend James Halliday opening the brand new tasting rooms and restaurant at Brokenwood, a winery he founded in the early 1970s with fellow Sydney solicitors Tony Albert and John Beeston.

Almost 50 years on, Halliday is the sole survivor of the original trio and, at 80, remains incredibly productive, unchallenged as Australia’s leading wine writer.

Though no longer a shareholder in Brokenwood (he sold out to start Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley), Halliday today returned to his wine-making roots to usher in a new era.

In the crowd were the families of his co-founders and current shareholders, many of whom also got their hands dirty in those early pioneering days.

James Mansfield from Brokenwood in its famous Graveyard Vineyard

The new facility looks fantastic – which I was lucky enough to tour yesterday with a group from TripAdvisor – and is emblematic of the Hunter’s recent evolution from daggy destination to stylish stopover.

Lots of new infrastructure, wineries, people and ideas.

The energy, so evident when Halliday and his mates were planting their first vines almost 50 years ago, is back.

And so is the Hunter, Australia’s oldest continually operating wine region, just two hours north of Sydney.

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