Welcome to the heart of the Hunter. Historic Pokolbin is home to some of Australia’s top wineries and cellar doors, award-winning restaurants, and the sprawling Hunter Valley Gardens. Plan your visit around one of the many events on the jam-packed calendar.
Wineries & cellar doors
Hailed as the wine capital of the Hunter Valley, Pokolbin has the highest concentration of wineries in the region. Many of the big names of the Australian wine industry started here more than 160 years ago. Today, you can still visit the cellar doors of legendary labels like Tyrell’s, Tulloch, McGuigan, Drayton and De Bortoli. If you’re a fan of fizz, head to Peterson House – set at the entrance to the valley, they produce more than 20 varieties of sparkling wine.
Perched on a hilltop, Audrey Wilkinson has 360-degree views of the vineyards below. Instead of a traditional tasting, why not opt for a picnic on the rolling lawns? The large Bimbadgen cellar door also has an enviable outlook and you’ll often see kangaroos grazing outside. Brokenwood’s state-of-the-art $8 million cellar door has multiple tasting and dining areas, as well as guided experiences that will take you behind the scenes of the winemaking process.
If sustainability is important to you, visit Keith Tulloch, the first certified carbon neutral winery in the Hunter Valley. Tamburlaine, Di Iulius and Harkham Wines all produce sustainable, natural, low-intervention drops that don’t compromise on taste. To try a few wineries in one, head Wine House, which acts as a cellar door for a collection of leading family-owned wineries. Or take a course at the Hunter Valley Wine School to learn about the art and science that goes into every glass.
The Hunter region’s only two-hat restaurant is in Pokolbin, the innovative and exciting Muse Restaurant. The menu changes regularly, but expect a showcase of Hunter Valley seasonal produce beautifully presented in a set five-course menu. Sister restaurant Muse Kitchen also holds a hat and offers a more laid-back European bistro style experience. Grab a seat at the outdoor tables when the sun is shining.
At EXP. the tasting menu runs to a dozen courses, making for a meal that’s as entertaining as it is delicious. Sebastian opened in 2022 at the famed Tower Lodge hotel, specialising in cuisine from the Basque region of Spain, known for its abundance of Michelin stars. éRemo, inside Spicers Guesthouse, serves Italian classics with a contemporary twist; Restaurant Kawul at Calais Estate focuses on Australian native; and at Yellow Billy – named after a local bushranger – the chefs forage for ingredients and cook most things over an open fire.
Treat your tastebuds to some of Pokolbin’s local specialties. The Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop has two outposts in the area (one in Pokolbin Village and one at Roche Estate) stocked with local and international cheeses and gourmet delights. At the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory you can taste cheese, olives, preserves and more, then learn to make your own on a cheesemaking course. Pukara Estate has been making unique olive oils and vinegars for more than 20 years, with everything grown, processed and bottled at their farm in nearby Denman.
Active pursuits also await in Pokolbin. Take a stroll through the glorious Hunter Valley Gardens, where 14 hectares of formal gardens are threaded with more than 8km of walking trails. There are 10 individually themed gardens featuring waterfalls, ponds, statues, murals and family-friendly attractions, like the Storybook Garden. Tee off on the Steve Smyers Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club, an 18-hole course with sweeping views of vineyards and the Brokenback Range. Then test your balance on a NSW Segway Tour along a 5.5km trail that follows an 1880s stock route.
Art lovers should explore the excellent Watershed Gallery, which showcases an ever-changing line-up of contemporary works. There’s an adventure for the whole family at Hunter Farm, with horse riding, electric bikes, segways, barrel rolling, grape stomping and plenty of animals to pat. Or set off at sunrise for a hot air balloon flight with Balloon Aloft, taking in a spectacular aerial view of the vineyards before returning for a champagne breakfast at Peterson House.
There’s always something happening in Pokolbin, with a busy year-round events calendar. Families will love the seasonal events in the Hunter Valley Gardens, like Snow Time in the Garden in winter and the Christmas Lights Spectacular. Catch Australian and international acts at headline music festivals like A Day on the Green, Grapevine Gathering and End2End.
Stay among the vines
Pokolbin is packed with places to stay, from boutique hotels and luxe retreats to cosy cottages and sprawling resorts. Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort sits on 300 acres with multiple pools, restaurants and bars, tennis courts, and a golf course. The elegant VOCO Kirkton Park is surrounded by gorgeous gardens and has a Grecian-style indoor heated pool.
Pokolbin is the gateway the Hunter Valley, a two-hour drive from Sydney and 50min west of Newcastle Airport. Trains also depart regularly from Sydney for Maitland, Morriset and Singleton, where you can catch connecting buses to Wine Country or hire a car to explore.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.