There are few places in Australia quite like the Hunter Valley. Famed for its award-winning wineries, acclaimed restaurants and luxury accommodation options, the region, just a three hours' drive from Sydney, is the ultimate mini-break escape for tourists. The Hunter is larger than most people might think, so to make things easier, GT compiled the ultimate to-do list for your next stay. Whether you have a weekend or a whole week ahead of you, here are the essential places to put on your itinerary.
Set in the stunning wine region of Broke in New South Wales, Winmark Wines is an extraordinary venue spanning 130 acres of lush countryside. The former Pooles Rock property has been smartly and lovingly converted into an artist's oasis with stunning views of the Yellow Rock state forest and beyond. Comprising a 28-acre vineyard and cellar door, sculpture garden, 3 properties allowing accommodation for up to 32 guests and an art gallery onsite, it offers a chance to truly unwind and reconnect with nature.
Let's not forget about the wine though: Winmark's Cellar Door boasts some of the best chardonnays in the region, including Rusty's Run which features peach and citrus notes with a subtle oak handling and a dry finish; and the exclusive Winmark 2019 Single Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay with notes of roasted nuts and butterscotch, with hints of citrus, apple and honey melon.
When you've had enough to drink, simply head on over to your luxury accommodation and admire the breathtaking view.
229 Wollombi Rd, Broke, winmarkwines.com.au
For a taste of Europe in the Hunter Valley, head to Bistro Molines. The stunning surrounds will make you feel like you've been dropped in the Tuscan countryside, while the French-Provincial-inspired fare will delight your tastebuds. When you've finished lunch, it's worth taking a stroll through the rolling vineyards.
749 Mount View Rd, Mount View, bistromolines.com.au
Golden Door Elysia Health Retreat And Spa
There's a reason this luxury spa is on everyone's wishlist. Hailed as one of the best health and wellbeing destinations in the country, it boasts a range of relaxing treatment options designed to reinvigorate the body and mind. Drop in for a one-off deluxe treatment, or book in for a few days of indulgence and go completely off the grid.
1 Elysia Dr, Pokolbin, elysiaretreat.com.au
Hot air ballooning
You'll need to rise early to catch the sunrise, but this experience is completely worth it. You'll witness expansive views over the region's rolling vineyards from more than 600m in the air (and perhaps spot the odd glinting kangaroo or two) before enjoying breakfast back on the ground.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, 430 Wine Country Dr, Lovedale, beyondballooning.com.au
For the ultimate farm-to-table experience, Restaurant Botanica at Spicer's Retreat is a culinary treat. The chefs pick fresh product from the garden every morning, creating dishes that are seasonally tasty, innovative and aesthetically pleasing. You can also pair your dishes with matching wines from the region.
555 Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin, spicersretreats.com
A local favourite, Café Enzo is known for its delicious coffee and Italian-inspired cooking. Perfect for brunch or lunch, it offers a rustic courtyard and decent serving sizes. Be warned though: it's extremely popular on the weekends!
Broke Rd &, Ekerts Rd, Pokolbin, enzohuntervalley.com.au
The Smelly Cheese Shop
Nothing pairs better with wine than cheese, and luckily, some clever folk in the Hunter Valley have set up a shop dedicated to a selection of the region's best. From handmade cow and goat's milk cheeses available to taste and buy, to a private cheese appreciation class, there's something for every cheese enthusiast.
2144 Broke Rd, Pokolbin, www.smellycheese.net.au
Brought to you by Winmark Wines.