The WeekenderTravel

The Weekender: Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Hunter Valley New South Wales. Photographed by halans. Image via Shutterstock

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway to one of New South Wales’ most renowned wine regions, the Hunter Valley has it all.

Besides the creamy, decadent cheese and the extraordinary wines, New South Wales’ Hunter region boasts its whimsical views from sunrise to sunset regardless of the season.

Commonly known as ‘Wine Country’, Hunter Valley in Pokolbin not only makes for the perfect reason to taste and explore some of Australia’s most loved wines, but, it also doubles as the ideal family getaway to New South Wales’ most visited wine regions.

Where is Hunter Valley, New South Wales?

From Sydney, Hunter Valley is under a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of the CBD. Hanging off New South Wales’ Central Coast, we recommend stopping in Newcastle and continue the extra hour-long journey to Hunter Valley.

Where to eat in Hunter Valley, New South Wales:

Cafe Enzo

Since its opening in 1996, Cafe Enzo has been a stopping point for any family travelling through Hunter Valley. Surrounded by an enchanting courtyard and a decadent Italian menu, Italian food lovers will soon understand the hype. With locally grown produce, authentic dishes, and excellent coffee, regardless if visiting for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Enzo’s will soon be a favourite. Upon your visit, opt for the Enzo Big Breakfast ($29.50) which comes with two eggs served your way, bacon, mushrooms, roasted tomato and toast.

Cafe Enzo – Broke Rd and Ekerts Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

Muse Restaurant

Pair a wine tour with a visit to the sensational Muse Restaurant, found withing the Hungerford Hill Winery, and you’ll truly embrace the sweet and finer notes that Pokolbin is renowned for. Boasting blossoming produce supplied from a range of local farmers; every bite will have guests tantalised. Considering Muse’s alliance and passion with the freshest ingredients used, it comes at no surprise that the contemporary Australian menu is seasonal for the purest and most luscious fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs. Muse Restaurant offers a seasonal four-course set dinner menu ($140 pp) where guests can also opt for an optional cheese course ($15) and wine pairing.

Muse Restaurant – Hungerford Hill Winery – 2450 Broke Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

Binnorie Cheese Dairy Factory

Expect smelly, fresh, creamy and revolutionary cheese that will surely change your life. Cheese-lovers will feel right at home once entering the renowned Binnorie Cheese Dairy Factory in Lovedale. Sitting just a 10-minute drive out of Hunter Valley’s city centre, Binnorie takes pride in its locally sourced milk used within Binnorie’s well-known products. Throughout your Hunter Valley travels be sure to get your hands on a jar of Binnorie’s famous Labna, marinated in rosemary, chilli and garlic ($15).

Binnorie Cheese Dairy Factory – 25 Lodge Rd, Lovedale, NSW 2325

Where to Drink in Hunter Valley, New South Wales:

Harkham Wine

In just a blink of an eye, visitors can easily miss the entry into Harkham Wines, thanks to the breathtaking and whimsical views surrounding the understated winery. Despite its size, this small winery will in no time be any wine lovers favourite stop throughout their visit to New South Wales’ Hunter region. Embracing its history and wine production traits, a visit to Harkham Wines will feel more like a family reunion. Family owned and operated since 1951, The Harkham family has been one of Israel’s wine region pioneers in Australia. Crushing between 20 – 25 tonnes of grapes a year sourced from their very own organic vineyards, they produce a 100% naturally, handpicked, fermented grape juice. Apart from their reds and whites, any chocolate lover out there will soon fall head-over-heels for the Chocolate Dessert Liqueur ($35) which pairs decadently with a scoop of ice cream after dinner.

Harkham Wine – 266 De Beyers Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

Tempus Two

With nine vineyards stretching all the way from Barossa Valley in South Australia, to Tumbarumba in New South Wales and then up north to Hunter Valley; every drop at Tempus Two in Pokolbin will have wine-lovers travelling through the nine regions with each sip. Founded in 1997 by renowned wine family, the McGuigans, their 128-year winemaking experience has fermented Tempus Two to become one of Australia’s most favourable wines. With their distinctive, cutting edge, wine techniques and flavours, travelling to Hunter Valley’s Tempus Two winery will surely be celebrated. Known for their unique range available, visiting their cellar door guests are encouraged to purchase one of their UNO Series that are created in small batches and only exclusively sold in the Hunter Valley.

Tempus Two Winery – Cnr Broke and McDonald’s Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

Matilda Bay Brewhouse

It comes to no surprise that Hunter Valley does indeed cater for the craft beer lovers – hence why Matilda Bay Brewhouse is somewhat central within the region. Originally titled as Bluetongue Brewery in 2001, today, Matilda Bay is known as Pokolbin’s first boutique brewhouse in the wine country area and regardless of the season, they always expect a crowd. With 12 craft beers on tap, hearty pub food served, laidback culture and the infamous Beer Tasting Paddles ($15) available, guests will surely feel the heartbreak leaving the venue. Pair your paddle with the Lamb Fillet ($29) that is served with minted peas, roasted potatoes and honey jus.

Matilda Bay Brewhouse – Cnr Hermitage Rd and Mistletoe Lne, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

What to Do in Hunter Valley, New South Wales:

Hunter Valley Gardens

Sitting on 60 acres with 6000 trees, 600,000 shrubs and a staggering 1 million plus ground plants; on top of the statues, murals, waterfalls and mazes, the Hunter Valley Gardens ($30 per person) is the perfect day trip regardless of the age group. With an enchanting, meticulous and quintessential approach to every garden or grotto – guests will be in a guaranteed state of awe as they walk their way through one of Hunter Valley’s many landmarks. Featuring the Storybook Garden, an Italian Grotto, a tantalising Lakes Walk and even a very peaceful yet magical Oriental Garden, Hunter Valley Gardens makes the perfect activity for a family getaway to Hunter Valley.

Hunter Valley Gardens – 2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

Grape Stomping

Hunter Valley Resort should be your first preference when wanting to choose an activity for the odd occasion of when we dismiss a glass of wine. From a wine school, to candy making and even a cooking school, on top of all of this, the resort is renowned for their infamous Grape Stomping ($35). Whether you’re a stomper, a jumper or a twister this will surely be one family-friendly activity with a lot of laughs. Squashing the grapes with your feet in the oak barrel is a great way to learn how the magical fruit was turned into wine before compressing and extracting machines were used.

Hunter Valley Resort – Cnr Hermitage Rd and Mistletoe Lne, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

Hot Air Balloon with Beyond Ballooning Hunter Valley

After exploring the Hunter Valley region on the ground, it comes to no surprise that a view from up above is guaranteed to bring a more breathtaking perspective. Starting from $249, Beyond Ballooning accommodates for groups as small as two, to as big as 16 for their up in the air tours – all making the hour-long hot air balloon ride a surprising, charming and bewitching encounter. Reinventing the meaning of a one in a kind experience, there’s no doubt that a hot air balloon ride will be the highlight of your visit to New South Wales’ Hunter region.

Beyond Ballooning Hunter Valley – Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley – 430 Wine Country Dr, Lovedale, NSW 2325

Where to Stay in Hunter Valley, New South Wales:

voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley

Stumbling across voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley (from $166 a night) that sits in the heart of Pokolbin, guests will be able to dive into a complete state of relaxation and quality that’s all housed within the modern, eccentric Hamptons style décor walls. Surrounded by a mouthful of 70 acres of rural gardens and walking trails, Kirkton Park Hotel is a necessity for any wine country visit. With a handful of dining and bar options available on-site, guests can also enjoy the tennis courts, the indoor heated pool, a gaming room and even a library to flick your way through.

voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley – 336 Oakey Creek Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

The Convent

Travelling up the bewitching driveway that’s encased by a paralleled row of trees, leading up to the front fountain of The Convent, guests will be stuck in a state of magical trance throughout their visit. One of Hunter Valley’s most picturesque venues, The Convent is a delightful stay regardless if it’d be for one night or a week. Housing renowned restaurant Circa 1876, guests are also welcome to roam the premises, especially their meticulous gardens. Starting at $259 a night, The Convent is perfect for those who appreciate elegance and passion.

The Convent – 88 Halls Rd, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

The Longhouse

Sitting on a private 25-acre vineyard, wine enthusiasts will surely feel like The Longhouse is more of a haven. The serviced apartment has a long line of history with its 130-year-old timbers that encase the modern minimalist décor that’s housed inside. Starting at $375 a night, The Longhouse boasts their iconic views which is easy to encapsulate from every major living area. With floor-to-ceiling glass walls that soak in the stunning views, guests at The Longhouse will fall more in love with the Broken Back ranges than ever before.

The Longhouse – 385 Palmers Lne, Pokolbin, NSW 2320

Ready to get started on your weekend getaway to Hunter Valley? Here are six important tips on how you shouldn’t organise your New South Wales wine road trip. And before you clink your glasses and say cheers, read up on these 10 Wine Etiquette Tips are a must.

Feature image: Photographed by halans. Image via Shutterstock.
This article was first published on 06 July 2018. It was updated and edited by Hunter and Bligh on 15 September 2020.