There’s much to enjoy on a Hunter Valley Wine and Food Indulgence, from cellar door tastings to long lunches and delicious dinners. Wednesday to Sunday are main opening days for many restaurants and bookings are recommended/essential for signature dining experiences.
Arriving in the afternoon/early evening, plan to eat where you are staying or close by. Central in Pokolbin is Goldfish Bar & Kitchen a retro bar/meeting place with an extensive cocktail menu and food designed to share. Next door, Oishii is a Japanese/Thai restaurant (it works!), dine in or order takeaway.
Breakfast at your accommodation or head out to Café Enzo at Peppers Creek Village on Broke Road. Big on breakfast, think ‘Enzo’ Benedict’, vego breakfast board, great coffee. Taste olive oils, tapenades, pesto at Pukara Estate from the Upper Hunter. Ready for wine tasting, look no further than David Hook Wines beside Café Enzo for crisp Semillon, Shiraz or delicious Riesling made with grapes from Orange in the NSW Central Ranges.
Head out, turning left along Broke Road to De Iuliis where Michael De Iuliis has been making waves in the wine industry with his Shiraz and more. Next door to De Iuliis is the Two Fat Blokes café and deli with local and NSW produce such as smoked trout from Nundle.
Turn left again then right onto Hermitage Road where Scarborough Wine has one of its two cellar doors with wine including a flagship Chardonnay. Opposite Scarborough, drop into the Keith Tulloch sublime cellar door and upstairs tasting room. Muse Kitchen here is open for lunch Wed -Sun and dinner Friday and Saturday, but you should book. (Saturday night is a six-course tasting menu only.) Drop into Cococa Nib at the Keith Tulloch Cellar Door for artisan chocolates made with French chocolate.
Still on the tasting trail in this area, Andrew Thomas is one of the Hunter’s most passionate wine makers producing 100% Hunter Shiraz and Semillon, now with a cellar door at the Tuscany Wine complex on the corner of Hermitage Road and Mistletoe Lane.
If this is your big night out, right now the hot names include Muse or Muse Kitchen, the Hunters Quarter at Poole’s Rock, EXP, The Cellar at Hunter Valley Gardens, Restaurant Botanica at Spicer’s Retreat, Esca Bimbadgen (dinner Friday and Saturday, lunch seven days), Circa 1876, Margan Restaurant at Broke.
More Hunter Valley Itineraries
Planning your time around a long lunch? Try Baume at the Bean Ean Complex, McDondald’s Road or Bistro Molines (bookings essential!) on Mount View Road for delightful French food in a wonderful setting on a hillside with views across the vineyards. Locals love to celebrate significant anniversaries and birthdays here.
This road is worth travelling just for the views – from Pokolbin follow McDonalds Road, stopping at the Small Winemakers Centre, then turn right following de Beyers Road to the Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard, a super-historic brand and one of the Hunter’s best vantage points. Back on McDonalds Road, Brokenwood make some of the best Hunter wines.
Follow Broke Road west to the Broke-Fordwich designated wine area where Margan is in superb setting – perfect for a long lunch. Margan is an award-winning winery and restaurant with menus themed around the kitchen garden concept. Top wines (love their Chardonnay!) and doing really great things for the Hunter.
Broke-Fordwich has many cellar doors to discover such as Whispering Creek. In the mood for a meandering drive, loop back through Wollombi, visiting the biodynamic Krinklewood vineyard on the way.
Wollombi has its own vineyard trail including pretty Undercliff (wonderful birdlife wine labels by super-talented Janet Luxton). Noyce Brothers cellar door (run by the family of film director Phillip Noyce) is at Gray’s Inn between Café Panino (Bruno’s as it is known) and the photogenic Wollombi General Store.
Find Wollombi Wines then Stonehurst Cedar Creek on the Wollombi to Cessnock Road (Tourist Drive 33) and Millbrook Estate on Mount View Road. OR, return to Pokolbin via Cessnock with an historic streetscape on Vincent Street, supermarkets and the Royal Oak Hotel for good pub dining.
Note: Of course you mustn’t drink and drive so working out who tastes and who drives is essential to the plan or join a wine tour by limo, horse and carriage, vintage cars and by bike.