The perfect long weekend itinerary in the Hunter Valley
At just over two hours from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is the perfect place for a long weekend escape. In this beautiful region it’s all about good food, great wine and switching off from city life.
Taste the Hunter’s best semillon in Pokolbin
Pick produce from the garden for a stellar lunch at Margan
Take a sunrise hot air balloon flight over the vines
Learn about sustainable winemaking in Broke-Fordwich
Day One: POKOLBIN
Get an early start from Sydney and you can be in the Hunter Valley in time for brunch and that all-important first glass of fizz. Peterson House is one of the first wineries you’ll pass as you drive into Pokolbin and their Restaurant Cuvee is famous for its bubbly breakfasts. Take a seat in the sunny courtyard and map out the rest of your long weekend.
You’ll find a constellation of great wineries scattered around Pokolbin, all within short a drive of each other. Be sure to drop in at Audrey Wilkinson, one of the oldest vineyards in the Hunter Valley, with a hilltop cellar door and winemaking museum, and the Brokenback Mountains as a backdrop. Tulloch Wines has interesting tastings that pair its wines with cheese or chocolate. At Scarborough Wine Co you can taste the estate’s classic range of wines or focus just on flights of chardonnays or red wines. Top tip: if you're planning on visiting multiple wineries, a private tour is the way to go. will chauffeur you around the valley in style.
Then it’s time to check in to your luxury digs, the secluded and exclusive Spicers Vineyards Estate. With just 12 stylish suites, all with king-sized beds, fireplaces and spa baths, it’s the ideal place to unwind and indulge. There’s a swimming pool for summer and fire pit for winter, plus the exceptional éRemo restaurant and dreamy Spa Anise. If you’re travelling in a group, book Vineyards House, a private four-bedroom retreat on the hotel grounds.
After a busy first day, you won’t want to travel far for dinner. Luckily, the contemporary Italian restaurant éRemo is one of the best in the Hunter Valley’s and it’s just steps away from your room. Start with a dozen freshly-shucked Coffin Bay oysters, then move onto the lamb rump with Ligurian olives and almonds, a whole pink snapper stuffed with tomato and fennel, and finish with a classic tiramisu. Round off the meal with a glass of Brokenwood Sticky Wicket Semillon and then tumble into bed.
DAY TWO: BROKE-FORDWICH
Take things slowly this morning; a sleep-in in your king-sized bed, a dip in the pool or a gentle walk around the beautiful grounds. Skip the cereal and toast, and start the day with a decadent morning tea at Sabor Dessert Bar – think fresh buttermilk scones, Belgian chocolate waffles and macarons in a dozen different flavours.
Once you start to explore the Hunter Valley, you’ll realise that it’s made up of a number of smaller areas that each have their own character and charm. So today, you’re off to Broke-Fordwich, just 20 minutes away from your hotel. Tucked into the foothills of the Brokenback Range, this historic wine region is centred around the tiny village of Broke and is known for its boutique, single vineyard and family-owned wineries. There’s also a big sustainability movement here with lots of biodynamic, organic and vegan wines to try.
You’ll feel like you’ve arrived in the south of France when you’re wine tasting at both Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard and . Running Horse Wines has a unique shipping container cellar door, Winmark Wines is known for both its chardonnay and outdoor sculpture park, and Whispering Brook creates small-batch Portuguese wines. When it’s time for lunch, the one-hatted Margan Restaurant is just outside Broke. Take a tour of the orchard and kitchen garden to see the produce that’s about to appear on your plate – farm to fork at its freshest.
The only restaurant in the Hunter Valley to have been awarded two hats, Muse Restaurant is special occasion dining at its best. Set on Hungerford Hill Winery in Lovedale, the five-course set menu changes regularly and could contain dishes like salmon with apple, mint and caviar, woodfired quail with celeriac and wattleseed, and warm orange cake with cumquat curd. The huge wine list draws heavily on the surrounding Hunter Valley and the expert staff can recommend the perfect drop to pair with your meal.
DAY THREE: Lovedale & Cessnock
Start your day early with the ultimate air-borne treat – a sunrise hot-air balloon ride with Beyond Ballooning. Early-morning mist brings a touch of romance to the hills and vineyards, and as rooftops and nodding cows pass beneath, the beauty of the landscape is revealed. You'll touch down in time for breakfast and bubbles at the Rydges Resort.
If you need a little pick-me-up after the pre-dawn wake-up, book in for a session at Spa Anise. The Vino Spa Ritual, where you’re scrubbed with champagne sorbet before a facial treatment featuring enriching shiraz and chocolate, should give you a boost.
There’s time for one last languorous lunch before you head home and there are few better places for it than the vine-draped courtyard of Bistro Molines. Serving classic French cuisine with a postcard-perfect view of rolling hills and neat vineyards, it’s a meal you’ll remember for a long time. Figs wrapped in prosciutto, asparagus tart, lamb with artichokes and twice-roasted duck are menu staples, plus crème brulee or bittersweet chocolate tart to finish.
If you want to squeeze in a couple more wineries along the way, there are two close to Cessnock and the start of the highway. marked its 50-year anniversary in 2022 and opened a new, larger cellar door space to celebrate. If you have any room left after lunch, each wine tasting here also comes with a cheese plate. Saddler’s Creek produces small-batch wines and runs tastings in the pretty garden outside the cellar door. They are known for their shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and pinot noir.