Three hours west of Port Macquarie and we find ourselves in Pokolbin, the heart of the Hunter Valley wine region. We’re staying right in the middle of Pokolbin Village so have the luxury of shops and a restaurant within walking distance. After one and a half days of driving, we plonked ourselves down at Vittorio’s Cafe restaurant and had a late and long lunch in the sun with a couple of glasses of wine and a view of the vineyards. Can you hear us relaxing as I type?
Places to see
So what’s to see in the Hunter?
The wineries, of course! The Hunter Valley region is best known for its Shiraz and Semillon wines and Mt Pleasant McWilliams is the biggest players in the region.
Mistletoe Sculpture Garden
This place is a small winery with a big art collection and sculpture garden, definitely worth a visit to walk off some of that wine you’ve been tasting. Visit the Mistletoe Sculpture Garden website.
We ran out of time to visit one of the chocolate shops, but I would guess anything involving chocolate would be awesome.
Cheese and gourmet food shops:
We visited Binnorie Dairy – which was right next door to the restaurant where we had lunch. Very small but big in flavour. Try their Labna, it’s one of my favourite cheeses.
And if you like olives, those are in abundance also, here’s some gourmet shops to visit:
- Hunter Valley Cheese Factory
- Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop
- Hunter Olive Centre
- Lovedale Smokehouse Gourmet Pantry and Cafe
- Pukara Estate Olive Oils and Vinegars
- Tinklers Produce
You could spend most of your time just eating in this region!
If you’re a little bit tired of wine or wine just isn’t your thing, believe it or not but the wine region also has beer breweries with their own tours.
We visited one of the smaller ones Hunter Beer Company, which is actually a micro-brew. Let’s just say that beer brewing is far less complex than wine making, but the staff are just as passionate. I still didn’t learn to like the taste of beer, but have a better understanding of the process.
Places to eat
The best thing about the Hunter is that there’s not that much to do except drink wine and eat! There are so many good restaurants in the region, nearly every cellar door has their own with a wonderful selection of their own wines. If you run out of time to get to all the wineries you wanted, I always find that eating at the restaurants allows me to try a cellar door I didn’t get to.
Here’s a few of the places we ate at and recommend:
Other things to do:
If you find yourself in the same boat as us, where we were in the Hunter during the week and didn’t pre-book a wine tour, you’ll find they’re either all booked up or don’t run during the week. But the information centre has a wonderful GPS Yellow Brick Guide wine tour you hook up in your car and it guides you from the luxury of your own vehicle!
If you’re feeling like some exercise as you taste the wine, check out Grapemobile Bicycle Hire.
Or if you just want an old fashioned wine tour and to meet some new people, there’s a heap of organised wine tours you can sign up to. Just do it ahead of time or you might miss out!
Make sure you also do a winery tour, it’s definitely worth it. 🙂
View more of my photos from Hunter Valley on my Flickr page.