Location: Two hour drive north of Sydney. The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest and most well-known wine region. It has built an enviable reputation for its long-lived semillons and shiraz .The serene beauty and tranquillity of the area give the Hunter Valley the feeling of quiet country charm, but with all the mod cons.
- Brokenwood wines – a modern hunter legend with an ever increasing range. (401 – 427 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin ) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5.
- First Creek wines – home to the 2011 Hunter Valley winemaker of the year. (600 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5.
- Glandore Estate – well constructed wines with an interesting tempranillo. (corner of Broke Rd & Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5.
- Gundog Estate – a handful of well crafted wines. (101 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5.
- Harkham wines – well made including preservative free wines. (266 Debeyers Road, Pokolbin) Call in advance for wine tastings: (02) 4998 7648.
- McLeish Estate– semillon is the hero here, and with seven vintages on hand, there’s plenty to choose from, with 2007 and 2009 the standouts. (462 Debeyers Road, Pokolbin)
- Meerea Park – handcrafted using fruit grown from some of the valley’s oldest and best vineyard sites. (Pavilion B, 2144 Broke Road, Pokolbin) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5.
- Mount Pleasant – producer of many classic benchmark wines, Mount Pleasant has firmly established its place among Australia’s premier estates. (401 Marrowbone Road, Pokolbin) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-4:30pm.
- Thomas Allen wines– on my recent visit to the valley, I was most impressed with the wines produced by this estate. I highly recommend their “mango tree” chardonnay and “the doctor” cabernet sauvignon. Although this is one of the valley’s newest cellar doors, the vines on the estate are over 40 years old producing wonderfully intense and flavoursome wines. (1733 Broke Road, Pokolbin)
- Tyrell’s Wine– Tyrell’s have been producing wines in the Hunter Valley since 1858. You can see and feel that history in the winery buildings and by the rows of old rootstocks as thick as mans arm that line the drive in from the road. My pick from their substantial list are: Vat 1 Semillon, HVD Chardonnay and Johnno’s Shiraz. (1838 Broke Road, Pokolbin) Cellar door open 7 days, 9-5.
- The Small Winemakers Centre – a one stop shop for several quality producers including; Thomas wines, The Little Wine Company, Hart & Hunter and David Hook wines. (426 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin (opp brokenwood) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5.
- Keith Tulloch wines – (Cnr Hermitage and Deasys Road Pokolbin) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5.
- Beltree– a casual bistro and popular haunt for the local winemakers. The rustic and contemporary Italian-inspired shared table experience is just the thing for group and family dining. A kitchen garden and local farms supply most of the fruit and vegetables. (266 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin)
- Blaxland Inn – modern brasserie in the heart of the Hunter Valley. (2198 Broke Road, Pokolbin) www.blaxlandsinn.com.au
- Boy-O-Boy– a new French fusion restaurant that is bringing cutting edge cuisine to the valley. Dishes change each week. (Tempus Two Winery, corner Broke & McDonalds roads, Pokolbin)
- Cafe Enzo – my pick for the best all day casual dining and serving the Hunter’s best coffee. Also try the wines at David Hook, one of the Hunter Valley’s quiet achievers, across from the cafe. (Cnr Broke & Ekerts Rd, Pokolbin) https://www.enzohuntervalley.com.au/menu/
Emerson’s Café & Restaurant- Grab a stool and sit around the bar at Emerson’s Café & Restaurant watching chef Emerson Rodriguez spin around the space in what is one of the best shows in town. (492 Lovedale Road, Lovedale). http://emersonsrestaurant.com.au/
- EXP restaurant– features a menu that challenges and offers a fresh combination of flavours. Preferring to steer away from the typical entrée, main and dessert formula. Instead, head chef Frank Fawkner has crafted a tasting menu comprising of either 5 or 8 courses , allowing guests to experience a wide range of stunning flavours all in the one sitting. (1596 Broke Road, Pokolbin). https://www.exprestaurant.com.au/foodmenu/
- Fawk Foods Kitchen & Bakery– a casual and most delicious drop in for all your bakery, breakfast or lunch needs. (2188 Broke Road, Pokolbin). https://fawkfoods.com/
- Hunter’s quarters– a new addition to the Hunter’s more formal dining establishments. (576 DeBeyers Road, Pokolbin ). http://huntersquarter.com/
- Muse Kitchen – European inspired food that is season and produce driven. (Cnr Hermitage and Deasys Road, Pokolbin) https://musedining.com.au/kitchen/menu/
- The Cellar– this unpretentious, uncomplicated and honest bistro is always reliable and always open. Produce is locally sourced, where possible and presented without fuss. The wine list celebrates the region’s brightest stars. (2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin) www.the-cellar-restaurant.com.au
- Villa Du Pays – for steak lovers, look no further! The restaurant features its own dry-aging room and the beef is sourced from the owners renowned herd in northern New South Wales. (1693 Broke road, Pokolbin) leogate.com.au/villa-du-pays/
- Casa La Vina– the owners personally built three Sante Fe- inspired villas on their 25-acre Pokolbin property and made a special journey to New Mexico to source the rustic, south-western decorations. This is a couples escape (no kids). www.casalavina.com.au
- Chateau Elan – this golf and spa resort offers a mix of spa suites and self-contained villas just a stone’s throw from the cellar doors. www.chateauelan.com.au
- Lillian’s on Lovedale – an elegant country house offering self-contained accommodation on 25 acres. www.lillians.com.au
- Spicers Vineyards Estate – a ridiculously luxurious guesthouse set in its own private vineyard, with amazing views of the Brokenback Mountains. Each of the 8 suite’s comes with its own fireplace, king-size bed, en suite with spa and complimentary mini bar. https://spicersretreats.com/retreats/spicers-vineyards-estate/
- The Longhouse– 3 fully self contained units, each designed to suit two couples, with two kingsize bedrooms and private ensuites. The Internal spaces are designed to give five star luxury. Use of industrial materials like concrete contrast with the warmth of timbers within the building to give a sleek modern feel. The building is perfect for groups with a 48m long deck the perfect place to have a gathering of friends or just to watch the sun set.http://thelonghouse.com.au/accommodation/
- Tonic Hotel – an exclusive retreat featuring steel & glass design. The retreat is set amongst the vineyards with stunning views. A food and wine lovers paradise. www.tonichotel.com.au
- Balloon Aloft – offering the very first passenger balloon flights in Australia, balloon aloft remains the market leader, delivering the highest quality balloon flights and service. www.balloonaloft.com/hot-air-balloon-flights-hunter-valley
- Golf – 2 recommended golf courses to play are: The Vintage Golf Club www.thevintage.com.au/golf and Cypress Lakes Golf & Country Club www.cypresslakes.com.au/golf-and-country-club
- Grapemobile Bicycle- now in its 20th successful year of continued, quality service to visitors of Hunter Valley Wine Country.It provides quality men’s and ladies mountain bikes and caters for singles, couples, groups and families www.grapemobile.com.au/
- Hunter Valley Gardens – over 25 hectares of spectacular international display gardens that will amaze you with sensational sights, colours and fragrances. The village surrounding the gardens has many gift and takeaway food stores. Two stores to visit include Bliss Coffee and the Hunter Valley Chocolate company www.huntervalleygardens.com.au/hvg
- Limousine Service– Hall’s private transfer service (Call Peter for a quote- 0431810548).
- Picnic at Audrey Wilkinson – If you fancy a nice cheese platter stop by the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese shop (Shop 3 Pokolbin Village, 2188 Broke Road Pokolbin) and set up your picnic goodies at the wonderful grounds of Audrey Wilkinson with its breathtaking 360-degree views of the valley. Don’t forget to try their wines at the cellar door. (DeBeyers Road, Pokolbin)
- Sabor in the Hunter– desert is the only thing on the menu. This desert bar is a haven for those seeking a sugar fix. Indulge in their multi-award winning Portuguese chocolate mousse, decadent cakes and pastries, hand-made chocolates, Portuguese tarts and gourmet ice cream, in what will be a culinary experience you will not forget. (319 Wilderness Road, Lovedale). View the website for operating hours www.saborinthehunter.com.au/
- EVENTS– A day on the green (Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, Febuary 24th 2018). Hope Estate Concerts (www.hopeestate.com.au/index.php?page=49). Lovedale Long Lunch (19th and 20th May 2018).