Hunter Valley wineries are so pretty that you’ll want to linger longer to enjoy the views (and tipples), so it’s a good thing that many vineyards come with onsite fine-dining restaurants. Here are five to get excited about.
Restaurant Cuvee at Peterson House
Located within the sandstone walls of Peterson House, Restaurant Cuvee frames its vineyard with grand timber trusses and floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s a fitting setting for breakfast or lunch – the former meal is always accompanied by bubbles, but of course. Come back later in the day and head chef Chad Pridue serves up nuanced dishes like spatchcock with truffled pork salami and pesto, or garlicky prawns paired with asparagus and peas. Prepare to settle in for a meal you won’t forget in a hurry.
Margan Wines & Restaurant
Margan Wines are estate-grown and estate-made. And they take home awards around the world. Once you’ve enjoyed a tasting at the cellar door, slide into the onsite restaurant that holds the same ethos. Hyper-local menus here are crafted around harvest from the kitchen garden and orchard, which is home to olive groves, free-range chickens, lambs and beehives. Your five-course culinary journey might include a crab bisque with parsnip, black garlic and cavolo nero, perhaps. Or barbecued Binnie Wagyu beef, sitting pretty on a plate of beetroot, radicchio and red cabbage. The menu is updated weekly, which means you’re treated to surprising bites every time you return.
Muse Restaurant at Hungerford Hill Winery
Hungerford Hill is a legend among Hunter Valley wineries producing drops since 1967. Its restaurant, Muse, is the perfect spot to sample its award-winning vintages. The five-course menu is seasonal, with a focus on Hunter Valley produce. Think Jerusalem artichokes enveloped in Binnorie brie cream, with the added crunch of Branxton pecans and brik pastry, with a drizzle of honey. Or grilled Paroo kangaroo atop buckwheat and pickled shiitake mushrooms. Chef and owner Troy Rhoades-Brown nurtures a close relationship with regional purveyors – you can read all about them on his menu while you wait for staff to deliver plates that are almost too pretty to eat. Almost…
Muse Kitchen at Keith Tulloch Wines
Chef Josh Gregory takes his culinary inspiration from Europe, although when it comes time to cook, every ingredient is sourced locally – his seasonal menu at Muse Kitchen is all about provenance. Which means that when you sit down to dine in winter you might be presented with curried cod and delicate pickled mussels in a bouillabaisse, or corn-fed chicken with a rich escargot butter. As expected, wines are a highlight, and while Keith Tulloch vintages feature prominently, you can also sip vintages from other boutique Australian producers.
The Gates Restaurant at Leogate Estate Wines
While you can order à la carte at The Gates, we recommend leaving your meal in the hands of the chef – the five-course degustation comes paired with award-winning Leogate wines. This means you could sit down to manuka honey-glazed pork with a 2019 Creek Bed Reserve Chardonnay. A combination made in heaven. Or a confit duck leg and 2018 Gatecrasher Pinot Noir. The sustainable estate that the restaurant overlooks is postcard-worthy with vines that date back to the 1970s; they were planted by one of the founding fathers of the modern Australian wine industry, Len Evans AO OBE.
Restaurant Botanica at Spicers Vineyards Estate
With its own private grounds of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes – which stretch almost all the way to the doorstep of the main guesthouse – Spicers Vineyards Estate is your one-stop-shop if you want to wine, dine and sleep among the vines. Sample the fruits of the estate with a bottle (or three) from the climate-controlled cellar’s 350-plus collection, try some vino-therapy at the luxe Spa Anise and dine on chef Matthew Bremerkamp’s farm-fresh fare at Restaurant Botanica – many of the ingredients are picked straight from the kitchen gardens, not to mention the resident pigs. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer serene views while you indulge in dishes like Moreton Bay bug tortellini with zucchini and tomato essence, or lamb rump with black garlic and root vegetable gratin.
The Mill at Estate Tuscany
Situated on the grounds of Estate Tuscany – which overlooks 300 acres of vineyards – The Mill has built a reputation for itself as one of the destination diners in the upper Hunter Valley, thanks to winning a Chef’s Hat in 2020. Come for the magic mountain views of the surrounding Brokenback Ranges, stay for executive chef William Townsend’s outstanding seasonal menu. Think wood-fired prawns sprinkled with watermelon radish, pan-seared scallops served with chilli-celery-brown butter sauce or braised beef short ribs with a side of black garlic kasundi. All served with matching wines, of course.