A weekend in the Hunter Valley
Photography: Jamie Gilmore @StudioDC3
Headed to the Hunter for a long weekend? Here are the best spots to indulge, both in and beyond the vineyards.
Redleaf lies amid 100 acres on the outskirts of Wollombi, in the region's south - its charming Italianate villa and manicured lawns are guaranteed to give your weekend a European farmstay feel.
Wollombi Rd, Wollombi, redleafwollombi.com
The brainchild of a group of architecture students from the nearby University of Newcastle, The Longhouse was conceptualised around the idea of a traditional Australian woolshed, with cladding timber salvaged from a 130-year-old structure in Western Australia. Set amid chardonnay vines, the impressive design makes it a stay like few others.
Palmers Ln, Pokolbin, thelonghouse.com.au
Spicers Vineyards Estate
With an on-site vineyard, spa, restaurant and private wine cellar, this boutique hotel (there are only 12 rooms) is a favourite in the region for good reason.
Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin, spicersretreats.com
Tyrrell's Wines cellar door visit
Awarded the best tasting experience in the Hunter in our 2016 Gourmet Traveller Wine awards, a visit to the Tyrrell's cellar door is a must while in the area. The site itself dates back to 1858, but more recent history has served up the three tipples in their signature Hunter Valley range: a semillon 2017, chardonnay 2016 and shiraz 2015. Fans can take advantage of the perks of their Private Bin and Founder's Clubs, but for a decidedly different take on the wine tasting experience, opt for a luxe helicopter tour over the property and surrounding region.
Broke Rd, Pokolbin, tyrrells.com.au
Tyrrell's Cellar Door. Photo courtesy Jamie Gilmore @StudioDC3.
Smoking masterclass at Lovedale
On Sundays, Lovedale Smokehouse chef and owner Ben Sales hosts a masterclass on smoking and curing at their vineyard-based cooking school, in region epicentre Lovedale. It's the ideal setting to learn the tricks of Ben's trade, including hot and cold smoking, wet and dry curing, and the ins and outs of everything from timber selection to menu pairings. And you'll do a hearty amount of tasting along the way.
64 Majors Ln, Lovedale, majorslane.com
Hunter Valley Fine Foods Markets
There is an abundance of worthwhile farmer's markets in the Hunter - fitting for the abundance of quality produce and gourmet fare coming out of the region - however the Fine Foods Markets held at Tyrrell's Wines are the newest, held on the first Saturday of every month starting June 10.
Broke Rd, Pokolbin, tyrrells.com.au
Subscribing to the farm-to-table ethos, the hatted Circa 1876 sources ingredients largely from its on-ground garden, beehives and chicken coop. You might choose smoked marrow bone, sous vide kangaroo loin or cherry-glazed duck breast, or be guided by the chef's tasting menu - anywhere from two to seven courses. Don't forget dessert - apple pie ice-cream with granola-style toffee crumb is our pick.
Halls Rd, Pokolbin, convent.com.au
A Hunter Valley go-to, Bistro Molines boasts views and charming French provincial décor in equal measure. The European-inspired menu is rich and hearty and the service genuine, making it a bona fide country favourite.
Mt View Rd, Mount View, bistromolines.com.au
Both outposts in the Muse Dining portfolio - Muse Restaurant and Muse Kitchen - are hatted, but the former has two under its belt. While local produce features heavily - think smoked Newcastle mackerel, or chicken (with potato, fig, macadamia, whiskey and rosemary) from Little Hill Farm down the road - there are touches of the far-flung, such as the Ossau-iraty-laced sweet corn risotto, made with Koshihikari rice. Their signature 'Muse Coconut' dessert, a dark chocolate shell lined with coconut mousse, is sure to be a talking point.
Broke Rd, Pokolbin; musedining.com.au
Emerson's Café and Restaurant
We can't think of a better fix for a Hunter hangover than nasi goreng for breakfast at this beloved Lovedale spot. On offer come dinner time is an eight-course degustation and Chef's Table experience that make Emerson's worthy of a revisit.
Lovedale Rd, Lovedale, emersonsrestaurant.com.au
Golden Door Health Retreat and Spa Elysia
Whether you opt for a full-blown, week-long health retreat, a spot of 'zen monk therapy', or a facial or massage treatment at Spa Elysia (Australia's largest day spa), you're guaranteed a welcome antidote to all that wine intake.
Thompsons Rd, Pokolbin, goldendoor.com.au
This article is presented by Tyrrell's Wines.