Just right for romance, The Hunter Valley is the perfect setting for holidays with a wine focus and much, much more. You choose the setting – welcoming B&B’s, pretty vineyard cottages, eco-friendly retreats, golf and spa resorts – and shape your special holiday from there.
Polkolbin is at the heart of wine country with cellar doors, restaurants and many local attractions, while the wider region has much to offer with more vineyards, scenic drives, farm gate produce, historic villages, activities such as horse riding, golf, kayaking, scenic helicopter flights and 4WD tours. In fact all the things couples just love to do and discover together.
Wining and dining
This is a serious wine region and you’ll appreciate just how many vineyards and cellar doors there are when you pick up a wine touring guide from the Hunter Valley Wine Country Visitor Information Centre. The guide is a must-have and includes wineries, restaurants, tours and attractions and a handy map for planning and touring.
Regional touring options include the Lovedale Trail, Pokolbin North and Polkolbin South, the Mount View-Wollombi Trail and the Broke Fordwich old-established Hunter names. The fun is to source different labels and taste signature Hunter varietals such as semillon and shiraz and trying others such as chambourcin and distinctive ‘sticky’ dessert wines, too.
On your travels take time out to admire the views – the Audrey Wilkinson cellar door has one of the best in the area together with a dramatic overview of the vineyards from the winding Mt View Road. The Brokenback Range adds a dramatic backdrop as you travel around the valley and, in the distance the towering mountains of the Barrington Tops appear as some sort of mystical Avalon on the horizon.
Many cellar doors have cafes and restaurants and this is an area for really spoiling yourselves and enjoying romantic interludes such as dinner in the charming surroundings of Roberts Restaurant. Roberts is in the hands of chef Daniel Hunt who also cooks up a storm at Nine Restaurant where degustation-to-die-for is the order of the day. Afternoon tea is a real treat at Tower Lodge so drop by one afternoon to try chef Carla Wile’s decadent sweet and savoury treats served on a traditional three-tier cake stand. Make it a champagne high tea for something really special.
For relaxed light and casual dining in a pretty setting try Briar Grillade at Briar Ridge – just the place for late breakfast or relaxing lunch while those who travel to Broke-Fordwich are rewarded with Mediterranean cuisine at Margan Restaurant.
There are farm gate and local produce experiences, too, with olive groves, chocolate shops and cheese. Did I say cheese? Our love affair with it and wine never fades and the area boasts the Hunter Valley Cheese Company with cheeses made on the site, the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop and the Binnorie Dairy. Cheese buffs may also make a pilgrimage to the Hunter Belle cheese factory and café in the Upper Hunter for yummy cheeses made from Swiss cow’s milk including Labelle – labna infused in lemon pepper oil.
Art in the vines
Arts are big in the Hunter which hosts star-studded events at a variety of venues each year. There are also little galleries to visit and attractions and events such as the annual Wollombi Vineyard Sculpture trail featuring both local and nationally acclaimed sculptors. Wander through the displays in beautiful settings including Stonehurst Cedar Creek, the Gate Gallery and the Undercliff Winery.
Wollombi is small but beautifully formed with sandstone buildings, cafes, an iconic General Store, excellent museum and cellar doors to visit … enjoy a coffee together and just watch the world go by. Broke Fordwich is a designated wine region in its own right with cellar doors, olive groves and some excellent dining – perfect for a drive and a luxuriously long lunch. Lovely!
Little Black Book
Hunter Valley Wine Country Visit Information Centre
Yellow Brick Guide
GPS audio guide – yellowbrickguide.com
Hunter Valley Cadillacs: huntervalleycadillacs.com.au
Hunter Valley Cycling: huntervalleycycling.com.au
Balloon Aloft Hunter Valley: balloonaloft.com
Hunter Valley Horse Riding
Trail rides, sunset rides, personalised rides and winery ride – huntervalleyhorseriding.com.au
Scenic vineyard tours and charters slatteryhelicoptercharter.com.au
The Gate Gallery: thegategallery.com.au
Ken Duncan Gallery: kenduncan.com
Butterflies Gallery: hvg.com.au
Briar Grillade: briarridge.com.au
Margan Restaurant: margan.com.au
Nine Restaurant: towerlodge.com.au
Oishii, Tempus Two Winery: oishii.com.au
The Oyster Bar @ Peterson House: petersonhouse.com.au
The Hunter Olive Trail: hunterolives.asn.au
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