It’s a well-trodden wine region but surprising nooks overflow along our unexpected Hunter Valley road trip itinerary.
We’re all familiar with the Hunter, NSW’s largest concentration of wineries, cellar doors, restaurants and places to rest your head. But beyond the beaten track lie secret gems, many of which are accidentally stumbled across by driving too far or taking a wrong turn. Allow our Hunter Valley road trip itinerary to whisk you off on a getaway you never knew existed while still retaining the rollicking good times you’ve come to expect.
Day 1: Wollombi to Broke
The small sub-region of the Hunter Valley serves as the first must-discover stop along our Hunter Valley road trip itinerary. A 30-minute drive from Pokolbin, you’ll bypass the usual gateways of Cessnock and Pokolbin altogether and arrive via Tourist Drive 33 by taking the Peats Ridge exit off the M1. Here is where to stop while you’re driving from Wollombi to Broke.
Best for: Sustainable homewares.
A gorgeous store that stocks unique products from all over the world as long as they’re created sustainably or follow Fairtrade practices. Owner of Twine Collective, Kellie Jones, handpicks her treasures and you’ll find luxurious blankets and throws, kitchen and bathroom accessories, candles, storage solutions and one-of-a-kind fashion and jewellery within the heritage-listed Colonial building.
Address: 2881 Wollombi Road, Wollombi
Noyce Brothers Wine
Best for: Elegant wine tasting.
Noyce Brothers Wine is a boutique wine producer whose cellar door is housed in a beautiful 19th-century sandstone building in the heart of the historical Wollombi village. The vineyard is located just a few clicks up the road and is owned by Phillip Noyce (director of the Australian film Rabbit Proof Fence and TV series Revenge) and his brother Michael.
Address: 2884 Wollombi Road, Wollombi.
Wollombi General Store
Best for: Last-minute platter fillers.
Next door to Noyce lies Wollombi General Store, resplendent in its original 1860s building and picture-perfect from every angle. Inside you’ll find a selection of locally made honeys, jams, oils and relishes plus gifts like chopping boards and delicious gelato. There’s also an on-site cafe serving up hot and cold snacks and very decent coffee.
Address: 2886 Wollombi Road, Wollombi.
Stonehurst Cedar Creek Vineyard
Best for: Vineyard wandering.
A popular spot for Hunter Valley weddings for obvious reasons, the stunning Stonehurst Cedar Creek Vineyard provides over 220 hectares of blissful wine country to bask in.
Stonehurst Cedar Creek Vineyard sits on the prime and picturesque side of the wine region.
Producing a collection of organic drops, the team dabble in a few white varieties plus a rose and sparkling rose, reds and a handful of fortified creations.
Head to Stonehurst Cedar Creek Vineyard for a sip of their sparkling reds.
Address: 1840 Wollombi Road, Cedar Creek.
Grays Inn Wollombi for centrally located stays and Stonehurst Cedar Creek Cottages for ultra-tranquil self-contained cottages.
Day 2: Broke to Pokolbin
Meander from Wollombi along the rather windy road, originally built by convicts, to spy luscious farmland, charming country houses and barns, roadside cattle and sheep, farm-gate stalls touting local produce and clusters of weird and wonderful letterboxes. These tell-tale signs point to Broke, a 15-minute drive away from Pokolbin and arguably even prettier than Wollombi with mountain backdrops and vast bushland. This next stop on our Hunter Valley road trip itinerary is jam-packed with magical food and wine experiences.
Best for: Spiritual transportation to the glorious vineyards of France.
Inspired by the Provincial charms of the French countryside, Krinklewood is an utterly romantic vineyard one should devote plenty of time to.
Visit Krinklewood for its Provincial charms and wine tastings. (Image: Nikki To)
Rose-speckled gardens, olive groves, sandstone sculptures, flowing fountains and a beautiful collection of biodynamic wine will keep visitors enchanted for far longer than they plan for. There’s even a resident peacock strutting its stuff across the grounds.
Settle in beneath huge umbrellas for afternoon wine tasting. (Image: MJK Creative)
Address: 712 Wollombi Road, Broke
Mount Broke Wines & Restaurant
Best for: A killer shiraz.
Another gorgeous vineyard along our Hunter Valley road trip itinerary, Mount Broke Wines & Restaurant blends sensational small-batch varieties and there’s an on-site restaurant and bar dishing up a sophisticated a la carte lunch on Saturday and Sunday plus woodfire pizzas rolling out on Friday nights.
Address: 130 Adams Peak Road, Broke
Kawal Rock Distillery
Best for: Gin on the lawn.
One of the Hunter Valley’s best spirit distilleries, Kawal Rock Distillery concocts the hard stuff and a handful of wines out of their 60-year-old vines.
Stop by Kawal Rock Distillery for a sundowner.
Sample gins, moonshine and more on the property’s stunning vineyard where a cellar door opens up to a beautiful patch of grass littered with comfy chairs and wine barrels.
Kawal Rock Distillery produces hand-crafted bespoke spirits and wines.
Address: 260 Milbrodale Road, Fordwich
Best for: Wine with a view.
Grab one of Nightingale Wines’ silky smooth drops and head straight for a table overlooking the vines. Not only does the procession feel limitless, but a horizon dotted with dramatic mountains makes for one seriously magnificent floor-to-sky marvel. If you’re hungry, there’s an on-site restaurant too.
Address: 1239 Milbrodale Road, Broke
Best for: Flavour-packed wine.
Follow an unassuming laneway to Whispering Brook, a stellar vineyard serving up highly acclaimed wines and one knock-out chardonnay. They prune their vines by hand, cutting back bunches of grapes so plants are free to plump up their blossoming fruit, resulting in amazing quality and flavour. There’s accommodation on site if your indulgences know no limits.
Address: Rodd Street, Broke
Margan Restaurant & Winery
Best for: Sustainable dining.
Placing a strong emphasis on sustainability is Margan Restaurant & Winery, a sprawling kitchen garden and orchard producing up to 90 per cent of the fruit and veg that feature on its menu.
Scenic views make the perfect backdrop at Margan Restaurant & Winery. (Image: Destination NSW)
They also raise free-range chicken and their own lambs, have beehives for fresh, unfiltered honey and an olive grove and they make their own wine. Anything they don’t produce on-site, they source locally.
Swing by for a long lunch on the patio with views of the Brokenback mountain range. (Image: Destination NSW)
Address: 1238 Milbrodale Road, Broke
Best for: Chocolate and cheese pairings.
You won’t miss the red barn in Broke, otherwise known as Greenway Wines, a small-batch winery and the only place you can devour its creations.
Stroll along lush gardens fronting Greenway Wines.
Pair their excellent drops with the ultimate indulgence and book a chocolate and cheese-paired wine tasting, one of the best chocolate and cheese experiences in the Hunter Valley, before snapping a non-negotiable selfie in front of the fantastic red façade.
Address: 350 Wollombi Road, Broke
Nightingale Wines’ Luxury Villas feature private spa baths while the guesthouse at Whispering Brook includes a winery and olive grove tour of the grounds.