An Indulgent Wine Country Weekend Getaway in Hunter Valley

Kangaroos at Lane Retreat

Pour yourself a glass and follow along as H4C editor-in-chief Tanya Joslin samples the good stuff at new Hunter Valley hideaway, The Lane Retreat.

Sitting on our deck watching kangaroos hop by, with the majestic Broken Back Range as a backdrop (a picture-perfect Australian scene if we ever saw one), it was hard to believe we were in Brisbane just a few hours earlier. After flying down to Newcastle Airport, we grabbed a hire car for the easy drive to Australia’s first and arguably most famous wine region, the Hunter Valley. Our home for the weekend: The Lane Retreat, a new boutique hideaway featuring private luxury studios nestled amongst 15 hectares of Bimbadgen grapevines and natural bushland.

The Perfect Pokolbin Location

Light through sky pokolbin hunter valley
Photo: Tony Joslin

The birthplace of Australian wine lies an hour’s drive west of Newcastle or about two hours north of Sydney. When it comes to Hunter Valley accommodation, location is key — you want to stay among the vines with dining and attractions still at hand. The Lane Retreat strikes that balance in fine style, positioned amidst picturesque landscapes at Pokolbin yet close to many other major wineries and towns. Nestled in one of Bimbadgen’s award-winning vineyards, Palmers Lane, the property’s private, modern, and luxurious studio retreats offer the perfect base to immerse yourselves in serene surroundings and connect with the region’s wine country riches.

A Delicious Introduction

Our Hunter Valley gourmet journey began soon after Friday check-in (a simple process that replaces reception queues with a unique access code), raising a glass at Bimbadgen Winery. Meaning ‘place of good view’ in the local indigenous language, Bimbadgen is a renowned destination for wine aficionados and gastronomes alike — and a three-minute drive from The Lane Retreat. Just look for the iconic bell tower on the hill.

Here, we indulged in a Signature Wine Tasting experience (is there a more appropriate way to begin a weekend away in wine country?), tantalising our palates with the finest blends and sampling the latest additions: a gin and vodka from Bimbadgen’s Night Merchant Spirits.

As the sun slipped away, splashes of gold painting a captivating scene against the deep greens of the countryside, there was no way we were ready to leave this idyllic setting. The winery’s woodfired pizzeria beckoned us to linger longer for a memorable first evening. Accompanied by live acoustic music, the Tuscan-inspired courtyard offered a relaxed ambience to unwind over a slice (their sourdough bases are delish) washed down with a local shiraz.

Bimbadgen Pizzeria

Love Your Way

It was a leisurely start to Saturday, a quiet morning spent enjoying the complimentary breakfast provisions of gourmet muesli, toasted banana bread, fresh juice, and coffee from the coffee machine. But, as lunchtime drew closer, the evocatively titled town of Lovedale drew us out to Emma’s Cottage Winery for a personalised tasting of Bimbadgen’s boutique ‘alter-ego’ label, Alter Wines.

A short drive away and set amidst Lovedale’s bucolic countryside, this charming winery is much smaller than Bimbadgen, offering a unique glimpse into the region’s heritage. After sampling the semillon and demolishing a grazing platter, we strolled the grounds and noted the property’s self-contained cottage accommodation. Maybe next time …

Signature Wining & Dining

Our culinary journey culminated on Saturday night at Bimbadgen’s flagship restaurant, Esca Bimbadgen, widely revered as one of the Hunter Valley’s best restaurants. Suspended above the winery, Esca epitomises elegant indulgence, with a menu meticulously crafted by Head Chef Keira Madeley. We savoured every bite of our five courses, chosen from the Signature Dining Experience. Dishes such as Ox Heart Tomato with smoked mozzarella and Quail Ballotine showcase the essence and abundance of the Hunter, complemented by the estate’s finest drops.

Side note: For couples wondering where to go in the Hunter Valley for lunch, may we also recommend this pioneer of the region’s fine dining scene. Come for the food, stay for the impeccable service and glorious views of the rolling hills beyond.

A sweet retreat

The Lane Retreat_Studio Room_Rust with View

While the Hunter’s wining and dining were top-notch, we cherished the downtime spent at our Pokolbin accommodation. The Lane Retreat boasts 60 luxurious and modern studio retreats, each designed to offer panoramic views of the Broken Back Range or the sprawling Bimbadgen vineyards. Thanks to the careful placement of every individual retreat, you often feel like you have the entire property to yourselves.

Interiors nod to the stunning natural surroundings, with hints of ochre (evoking our view of the mountains) and greens in the soft furnishings. Complete with a private deck, kitchenette, small dining table, king bed, and reverse-cycle air conditioning, each retreat is a little sanctuary of privacy and tranquillity. The luxury bathroom features a generous shower with double rain shower heads and premium bath products from Hunter Lab.

External view of The Lane Retreat - cover

We spent the afternoons unwinding on our deck, revelling in the autumn sunshine. If you want to take this delightful ritual further, the wine in the mini-bar is reasonably priced or you can head to The Lane Pantry and grab some locally sourced treats. The retreat also features a pool surrounded by lush greenery, perfect for a refreshing dip on warm days.

Couples will love

The Lane Retreat offers couples the perfect escape to relax and enjoy each other’s company amidst stunning views of vineyards and mountains, complemented by luxury studio accommodations. By day, connect with the Hunter Valley through winery tours and gourmet adventures then soak in the scenic countryside from the privacy of your deck. In the evening, treat yourselves to one of the superb restaurants nearby or stock up with local supplies and enjoy a cosy night in.

Whether you’re out exploring or simply savouring quiet moments together, The Lane Retreat provides an indulgent escape where love can thrive in Australia’s original wine country.

Planning to holiday in the Hunter Valley? Find out more about The Lane Retreat here

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