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Seeking the 'perfect' red wine in Australia's Hunter Valley

Asian visitors drawn by food and cultural events as well as historic vineyards

Hunter Valley grapes on the vine, summer 2019 (Photo by Geoff Hiscock)

HUNTER VALLEY, Australia -- In summer when temperatures often soar above 40 degrees Celsius for days on end, the hillside grapevines of the Hunter Valley, 150 km north of Sydney, are heavy with fruit.

Grape pickers -- often young overseas visitors eager to boost their holiday funds -- move into the fields before dawn to begin their backbreaking work. They will earn about 25 Australian dollars ($17.7) an hour, working between five and eight hours a day.

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