There is nothing – NOTHING – better than a bougie weekender. We’re talking wines and whines. Big, fluffy beds to flop into after hours spent around a fire pit. Decadent cheese boards made from local produce you’ve picked up on your winery tours. Oh yeah, and plenty of long lunches spent quaffing bulk vino. All of this is best done, if you’re in NSW, in the Hunter Valley region.
Around two hours from the city, it’s easy enough to get there after work on a Friday, but far enough away that you’ll see kangaroos in the yard and sleep without any car noises.
If you thought the Hunter Valley was too basic bitch, think again. The area may be renowned for ~girls trips~ and bankers on golf holidays, but there’s a reason everyone flocks to the area. It’s rich in wineries with legit, picturesque cellar doors, flooded with fancy restaurants that overlook vineyards and chock-full of accommodation big enough for you and all your pals. For bougie weekenders, it’s a no-brainer.
Here is our guide to the Hunter Valley region.
When we said the Hunter Valley was chock-full of cool accom, we meant it. A quick search on Airbnb will show up plenty of big, airy properties you can book with a huge group of mates, often with enough privacy for long, loud nights by the outdoor fire pit.
We stayed at The Stables, an incred converted building on a working horse farm in Rothbury, it’s close to all the best wineries in the area, but was also just a dream place to relax. Yes, there was an outdoor firepit, but there was also a huge dining room for dinner parties, heaps of comfy spaces to curl up with a book or several wines, and even a reformer pilates studio, if you and your pals are keen to get those glutes burning. Is it just me, or is exercise way more fun on holidays?
Botanica is one of those perfect fancy restaurants with incredible views. Part of Spicers Vineyard Estate in Pokolbin, expect locally-sourced produce, a lengthy regional wine list and gum trees rustling in the breeze through the windows that surround the space.
Pro tip: have a few wines outside overlooking the vineyards before a long lunch – or hang around for sunset and use the filtered light for some pretty impressive IG photos.
DRINK: Usher Tinkler Wines
This has to be the most shit-hot cellar door in the Hunter Valley. Helmed by Usher Tinkler, whose father and grandfather worked the land in the area before him, Usher Tinkler Wines are super interesting – you’ll find mixed varietals, natural wines and other fun, creative blends here, all while sitting in a ramshackle church from 1905.
Team your wine tasting with salumi and cheese – their boards are generous and ridiculously yum.
EAT: Binnorie Dairy
Love cheese? You have to go to Binnorie Dairy in Lovedale on your next visit to the Hunter Valley.
Check out the cheesemakers at work, taste-test your faves, and buy up big for your cheese board later that evening. You’re also free to buy some wine and cheese, then make yourself at home on the dairy’s stunner of a verandah, if you like. A mood, if we do say so ourselves.
DRINK: Tulloch Wines
One of the most chic wineries in the Hunter Valley, Tulloch wines cellar door experiences can be booked online for up to ten people, and there are heaps of fun options, from your standard wine tasting for $10 per person, to a mystery wine tasting with cheese and charcuterie pairings for $50.
Not into wine or going sober? Their kombucha tasting features Mailer McGuire specialty kombuchas paired with cheeses.
EAT: Cocoa Nib
Choccy lovers rave about this chocolate shop. Located at Keith Tulloch Wines in Pokolbin, you can pop into Cocoa Nib whenever you like to sample house-made fudge and chocs, or settle in for a wine and chocolate tasting if that’s your thing.
Founder Aymee Slaviero trained as a pastry chef by 20, and has worked at some major restaurants over the years before she settled into her true passion, making chocolate. Imagine that life, huh?