48 Hours in Wine Country
With its 150 cellar doors offering samples of award-winning drops and no shortage of world-class restaurants, a bounty of locally made produce, craft breweries, distilleries, and luxury accommodation, the Hunter Valley is an idyllic trip for young and old.
But with so much on offer, how best to spend your time in wine country? Here are our top picks for any weekend away:
After a hearty breakfast, the day starts with a drive to Mount View to experience Briar Ridge wines which can be enjoyed in the old winery building or on the picturesque wine deck. Apart from the typical Hunter wines, Briar Ridge also produces some exceptional examples of Grüner Veltliner, Fiano, Pinot Gris and Viognier. While you are there – ask them about the 2021 Albarino recently awarded “White (and Blends) Wine of the Year.
Driving back to Pokolbin along McDonalds Rd, take the turn to Tamburlaine Organic Wines, one of the country’s largest producers of certified organic wine. The cellar door staff are incredibly knowledgeable, and the range of wines is extensive and includes cooler climate wines from their Orange Vineyards and the new Jack Squat – Zero Alcohol range.
Continue along McDonalds Road to Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village, where you will find one of the most exciting distilleries around. Small Mouth Vodka is a small, family-owned distillery specialising in Gins, Vodkas, and Liqueurs decorated with edible glitter. Take the time to pop in next door to the Gardens Cellars and explore the vast number of international beers available (the tunnel of beer is something else!).
For lunch, take a short walk to The Cellar Restaurant - perfect for dining alfresco in the wisteria-surrounded courtyard on a warm day. The menu is refreshingly diverse with options that include salt & pepper soft shell crab, whole grilled garlic prawns, lemongrass chicken wings, beef croquette and sirloin steak - to mention just a few.
After lunch, stretch your legs with a stroll browsing through the 23 shops in the Shopping Village or visit Hunter Valley Gardens and be amazed by the sensational sights, colours, and fragrances of the ten stunning feature gardens.
For Dinner – Hunters Quarter is difficult to beat, especially at this time of the year when there is a deliciously festive three-course A La Carte menu designed by internationally renowned Executive Chef Brian Duncan on offer. Celebrate Christmas and the New Year while indulging in a memorable dining experience with loved ones, overlooking the Pooles Rock Vineyard and Broken Back Mountain Ranges.
The adventure starts with a trip to the village of Broke Fordwich – stopping along the way at Pukara Estate (@ Peppers Creek Village) to sample the delicious range of olive oils, olives, and other condiments on offer. They also have a range of gift ideas – perfect for this time of the year.
A little further up the road, de Iuliis Wines – winner of the 2022 Best Hunter Valley Cellar Door, is one of the top wine producers in the region, producing a range of wines that include Merlot, Shiraz, and Touriga Nacional amongst the reds and Semillon, Chardonnay, Verdelho amongst the whites.
Check out the quaint village of Broke and travel on – you will soon arrive at Winmark Wines, renowned for specialising in exceptional Chardonnay wines. Take the time to explore the property with its onsite art gallery and sculpture walk while taking in the glorious views as you sip on a glass of Rusty’s Run Chardonnay.
It’s nearly time to leave for home, but before you do, head back to Pokolbin to stock up on goodies at the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop to enjoy with your wine. True to its name, this venue is not for the sensitive-nosed. The range of local and imported cheese options, cured meats and accompaniments is extensive. This is a one-stop shop for all local produce and a great way to stock up for your Australia Day Charcuterie Board.