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A guide to the Hunter Valley

Brokenwood Wines, PokolbinCREDIT: Destination NSW

Harvested grapes at Brokenwood Wines, Pokolbin.

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A guide to the
Hunter Valley

Brokenwood Wines, Pokolbin CREDIT: Destination NSW

Harvested grapes at Brokenwood Wines, Pokolbin.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #lovensw #newsouthwales

Australia’s oldest wine-growing region, the Hunter Valley is just two hours’ drive from Sydney, making it an ideal destination for a midweek break or weekend away. The heart of New South Wales wine country is Pokolbin, a fifteen-minute drive from the main town of Cessnock. As well as the region’s acclaimed wineries and restaurants, the Hunter is known for luxury hotels, outdoor activities, championship golf courses and gourmet food producers. 

Tour the vineyards 

It’s time to explore — and a great place to start is the biggest wine complex in the Hunter Valley, Brokenwood Wines cellar door. Gather around one of its circular pods for wine tastings or take a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery, then sample pre-release vintages straight from the barrel. The Hunter Valley is known for its semillon, but also produces great shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, verdelho and chardonnay. 

There are more cellar doors in the Hunter Valley than any other wine region in Australia. Vines were first planted in the area in the 1820s and descendants of the early wine pioneers — the Drayton, Lindeman, Tyrrell, Tulloch and Wyndham families — still operate in the region.  

But it’s not all big names, there are plenty of boutique wineries; drop into the Wine House in Pokolbin to see a showcase of wines from small Hunter vineyards, such as David Hook Wines and The Little Wine Company.  

If your interest lies more in biodynamic viticulture, drive out to Krinklewood Biodynamic Winery in Broke, 20 minutes from Pokolbin. Sit in the Provencal-style cellar gardens, with peacocks strutting around, and taste the range of classic Hunter wines as well as a French-style rosé and sparkling shiraz. 

Nearby you’ll find Margan Wines and Restaurant, where all the wines are estate-made from grapes grown in the Broke Fordwich region. Take the Ultimate Margan Experience, a tour of the winery, vineyard and kitchen garden, before a five-course degustation lunch featuring produce grown on the estate.  

To safely tour the Hunter wineries, appoint a designated driver or leave your own wheels behind and join a wine-tasting tour — by classic car, luxury bus, with a winemaker or even on horseback. 

Follow the food trail 

The Hunter Valley is well served by great restaurants and providores turning out local seasonal produce. Many of the wineries, including Usher Tinkler Wines, serve local cheese, charcuterie, olives and relishes to try alongside their wines. For more cheese, there’s the Hunter Belle Cheese Room and the Smelly Cheese Shop, and for chocolates try Hunter Valley Chocolate and Cocoa Nib.  

Margan Wines, Hunter Valley CREDIT: Destination NSW

Guests enjoying Hunter Valley Food and Wine month at Margan Wines, Hunter Valley.

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Margan Wines, Hunter Valley CREDIT: Destination NSW

Guests enjoying Hunter Valley Food and Wine month at Margan Wines, Hunter Valley.

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Usher Tinkler Wines, Pokolbin CREDIT: Destination NSW

Salumi and cheese plate at Usher Tinkler Wines, Pokolbin.

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Usher Tinkler Wines, Pokolbin CREDIT: Destination NSW

Salumi and cheese plate at Usher Tinkler Wines, Pokolbin.

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A valley of events 

Time your visit with one of the following: Hunter Wine Country Markets, Handmade in the Hunter Markets or Wollombi Markets. The annual Hunter Valley Wine Festival is held every May/June and the rolling lawns of Hope Estate host weekends full of feasting such as the new Gin and Jazz Festival and a Beer and BBQ Festival. The latter celebrates the many craft brews which have been borne out of the region’s wineries, including Hope Estate’s own brewery. New to the scene is FogHorn Brewery at The Mighty Hunter, which also hosts live music in its beer garden.  

Several Hunter Valley vineyards regularly hold outdoor concerts, including Bimbadgen and Roche Estate

Enjoy the great outdoors 

Watch the sun rise from the calm serenity of a hot-air balloon with one of several local operators, including Beyond Ballooning, and get a bird’s-eye view of the vineyards and rolling countryside, before a gourmet breakfast on landing. 

You could borrow a bike from your hotel and hit the country roads from charming villages to expansive vineyards. If you fancy venturing into native bushland on a hike or mountain-bike ride, join a local tour that visits the region’s national parks. The Finchley cultural walk takes you to see Aboriginal engravings. And the Gloucester Tops circuit covers the diversity of Barrington Tops, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the country. 

Tee off at one of the many championship golf courses, including the Hunter Valley Golf & Country Club, Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort and The Vintage Golf Club at Chateau Elan, which features a Greg Norman-designed course. There is also an excellent nine-hole course at Branxton Golf Club, north of Cessnock. 

Luxury retreats with fine dining 

After a long day exploring the Hunter Valley, check in to a luxurious retreat and dress for dinner at an onsite restaurant. Chateau Elan is on a secluded 40-hectare property in Rothbury, a 10-minute drive from Pokolbin. Stay in a luxury spa suite or private villa and dine at the Legends Grill restaurant, where a regularly changing menu takes diners on a journey around the globe.  

Against the stunning backdrop of the Broken Back Range, Spicers Vineyards Estate near Pokolbin is set among rolling vineyards and it’s perfect for food and wine lovers. There are 12 guest rooms, including King Spa Rooms and Luxury Spa Suites, which all feature open fireplaces, plus the Vineyard’s House, a luxury private four-bedroom residence with a private pool. Dine at the award-winning Restaurant Botanica for a decadent modern Australian meal of regional produce matched with local wines. 

Hanging Tree Wines, Pokolbin CREDIT: Destination NSW

Hot air balloons flying over Hanging Tree Wines, Pokolbin

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Hanging Tree Wines, Pokolbin CREDIT: Destination NSW

Hot air balloons flying over Hanging Tree Wines, Pokolbin

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Spicers Vineyards Estate, Pokolbin CREDIT: Destination NSW

The scenic grounds of Spicers Vineyards Estate, Pokolbin.

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Spicers Vineyards Estate, Pokolbin CREDIT: Destination NSW

The scenic grounds of Spicers Vineyards Estate, Pokolbin.

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