Up for a gourmet wine weekend? Taste the wine and check out the cellar doors, sample the food and bed down for a night or two in NSW's Hunter.
The Eather brothers’ cellar door is part of the swish Roche Estate complex. Taste their artisan wines before Cat Stevens performs here in December on his Peace Train Tour.
Drink now Indie Marsanne Roussanne
Cellar Alexander Munro Shiraz
Gifted winemaker Gwyn Olsen crafts the wines at this hidden gem tucked away in the picturesque Mount View subregion.
Drink now Limited Release Tempranillo
Cellar Dairy Hill Shiraz
David Hook Wines
Taste David Hook’s value-packed wines in his stone barn then pop next door to Enzo for great coffee.
Drink now Pinot Grigio
Cellar Old Vines Shiraz
Take in the superb views from the cellar door of this pioneering producer. Better still, stay overnight in one of the two guest cottages and enjoy the perfect sunrise.
Drink now Winemakers Selection Verdelho
Cellar The Oakdale Chardonnay
Andrew Thomas’s highly acclaimed cellar door rubs shoulders with stellar cheesemaker Binnorie Dairy.
Drink now Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon
Cellar Braemore Semillon
SEE ALSO: The Hunter Valley
For breakfast and coffee
Diners regularly interrupt their breakfast to take a turn around Enzo café’s perimeter. The courtyard, with its brick paving warmed by the sun and its soothing water feature, invites such relaxed perambulation with a good flat white in hand. The menu at day’s open is a brief list of well-executed fare, including local free-range eggs and some-of-everything breakfast boards in vegetarian and ham-lovers’ varieties.
Peppers Creek, 1946 Broke Road, Pokolbin
Located in Broke, the Margan estate is anything but. Owners Andrew Margan (winemaker, viticulturist) and Lisa Margan (chef, nutritionist, organic farmer, restaurateur) have coaxed a bounty of riches from the earth. The ethos at the restaurant, which is headed by Lisa and head chef Thomas Boyd, is “estate grown, estate made”. From the alfresco tables, guests can see the 4000-square-metre biodynamic plot that produces 90 per cent of the ingredients. The estate grows vegetables and fruit and has olive trees, beehives, chooks happily pecking insects among rows of heirloom tomatoes (truly organic pesticide) and a flock of sheep. Butter, cheese, salumi, bread, pasta and gelati are prepared on site and the Mediterranean-influenced menu changes according to what’s pulled from the soil.
1238 Millbrodale Road, Broke
The opening flourish sets the tone for a meal at Exp. as something not merely consumed but experienced: mortars filled with vivid-green herbs, snap-frozen by liquid nitrogen, are brought to the table, steam billowing. Owner-chef Frank Fawkner presents each diner with a pestle and tells them to go at it posthaste. The greenery, pounded to a fine dust, is combined with butter then spread on rounds of housemade sourdough. There follows a parade of dishes such as housemade Jersey-milk haloumi with pumpkin and warrigal greens and Australian Pinnacle Meats Wagyu with native rice, mushroom, black garlic, daikon and wasabi. Exp. stands for any word starting with those letters, especially experience and experimental.
1596 Broke Road, Pokolbin
For taking home
While her mother is manning the counter at Cocoa Nib, chocolatier Aymee Slaviero, the owner of this temple to the mighty bean, is in a purpose-built kitchen in her garage, creating. Until recently, Slaviero singlehandedly produced every block, bar, Easter egg and mousse-filled chocolate inside this Aladdin’s cave of confectionery. The display is as beautiful as a jewellery store but any reluctance to destroy these perfect creations is soon forgotten when the chocolate starts melting on your tongue. Bags of Orange Kisses and Coconut Roughs and blocks studded with Turkish delight and pistachios should find their way to your home. Don’t neglect the cakes and local Silverskin coffee. And whatever you do, buy extra Macadamia Coffee Toffee. Trust us.
Keith Tulloch Wine, 996 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin
Spicers Vineyards Estate
The fireplace is kindled so expertly that within minutes of entering one of Spicers Vineyards Estate’s 12 spacious suites and lighting it, its warmth and cheery crackling suffuse the room. It’s all about thoughtful touches here: the ready-to-blaze fire; the guilty pleasure novels; the bath “caviar”, pumice stone and nailbrush in the enormous spa bath; and the comfy slippers and robe to slip into afterwards. Outside the back door are rows of vines, while beyond the front door is Restaurant Botanica, where breakfast is taken with views of native bush. After a long day of wine-tasting, settle in for a treatment at Spa Anise.
555 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin
Château Élan at The Vintage
A place for those with diverse interests, Château Élan at The Vintage is both a golf resort and spa – set on fairways designed by Greg Norman, no less – in prime Hunter wine country. While the golfers are taking a swing at The Vintage, those who didn’t pack plaid shorts can be pampered in one of the Spa and Salon’s 17 treatment rooms. The suites and villas are remarkably well equipped, the latter including a dining room, full kitchen and even a washing machine. The contemporary décor eschews country flourishes in favour of a palette of muted lime and chocolate. All rooms have glass doors that open onto a balcony or terrace, where mobs of kangaroos can be seen bounding past.
Vintage Drive, Pokolbin
Kirkton Park Hotel Hunter Valley
You can’t help feeling grand as you enter the elegant foyer of Kirkton Park Hotel Hunter Valley. Footsteps sound on the shiny black-and-white floor and the flower arrangement, spot-lit by the glow from an elaborate skylight, is the size of a small car. The dramatic navy-and-white colour scheme continues in the guestrooms, the effect heightened by gold accents and enormous Oriental lamps. The 71 rooms and suites are arranged around a manicured courtyard garden and have vineyard views. Post-excursions, take a leisurely swim in the heated pool in the Grecian-style pool house or curl up by the fire in Epoche Lounge Bar and discuss the day’s discoveries over a glass of red and wood-fired pizza.
336 Oakey Creek Road, Pokolbin
Image credits: Margan Restaurant, Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0); David Hook Jason Wong (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)