Sydney / Destinations / Romantic Getaways: A Weekend in the Hunter Valley

Romantic Getaways: A Weekend in the Hunter Valley

Just a short three-hour drive from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is a destination that’s all about decadence. But there’s more to explore beyond the cellar doors. With rolling greenery, gourmet food, quaint cottages and fireplaces aplenty, this stunning wine region is steeped in romance. So, to set your hearts a flutter, set aside a long weekend to explore Australia’s oldest wine region the romantic way.

For a romantic weekend in the Hunter Valley, be sure to…

EAT

Fuel up with coffee and brekkie at Café Enzo

Soak up the sun in the courtyard or cosy up by one of the fireplaces and dig into a simple but hearty meal. On day two, mix it up by going to The Deck Café or Redsalt Restaurant in the Crowne Plaza.

Indulge in delicious chocolates at Cocoa Nib

Pastry chef Aymee Slaviero is the genius behind this delightful shop at the Keith Tulloch Winery, which serves up artisan chocolates and cakes with T2 tea.

Linger over a long lunch at Circa 1876

Tucked inside a historic cottage on the Roscrea Estate, this is one of the Hunter’s most iconic restaurants. Clear your schedule and go for the two-, three- or five-course chef’s tasting menu. On your way out, pop into the Champagne Lounge for a glass of bubbles by the open fireplace 

Book a table at Restaurant Botanica

Set on the Spicers Estate, most of the ingredients and herbs are plucked from the garden, and there’s a sommelier on hand to match wines to every dish. PS. Ordering the custard and caramel ice-cream for dessert is another way to say ‘I love you.’

Take your tastebuds on a trip at EXP Restaurant

With chef Frank Fawkner at the helm, this is the Hunter Valley’s most adventurous dining experience. Opt for the five- or eight-course tasting menu with wine or non-alcoholic beverage pairing (just for something different!). It changes seasonally, but you can expect a string of dishes supercharged with flavour.

Dress up for dinner at  Muse Dining

Located at the iconic Hungerford Hill Winery, this fine dining restaurant is the ultimate date night spot. It serves local produce in the most beautiful way. For a more casual vibe, go to its sister restaurant, Muse Kitchen at Keith Tulloch Winery.

Sit down to a beautiful meal at  Margan

The owners are pioneers of paddock-to-plate dining and produce their own olive oil and hone. Start by strolling around the stunning one-acre garden, and then order a bunch of seasonal dishes. Oh, and if the gnocchi is on the menu, that’s the best decision you’ll make all day.

Satisfy your sweet tooth at  Sabor in the Hunter

Nothing screams romance like whispering sweet nothings over dessert. This dessert bar is nestled in the vines at Lambloch Estate and offers everything from scones and soufflés to tarts and truffles.

Turn up the heat at  Leaves & Fishes

Open Wednesday to Sunday, this restaurant dishes up Asian eats with a little kick. Share the Sichuan spiced chicken wings with pepper caramel peanuts.

Bring the Hunter home by stocking up on cheese and charcuterie

To recreate those cheese platters, swing by The Smelly Cheese Shop before you leave, and the Lovedale Smokehouse for cured meats.


DRINK

Taste-test your way through the Hunter Valley’s best vineyards

With over 150 vineyards, it’s near-impossible to narrow down your list of cellar doors to visit. But don’t worry – this won’t be your last trip to the Hunter! For excellent chardonnay (and a trip down memory lane), go to  Tyrrell’s; the winemaker’s wall is a who’s who of Aussie viticulture. Perched on a hilltop, Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard is one of the valley’s oldest, and its sparkling Shiraz is next-level. Share a bottle, then sip on limited-edition wines at Piggs Peake Winery and organic drops at Tamburlaine and Macquariedale. To transport yourself to the south of France for the afternoon, head to Krinklewood. Leave room to devour the cheese platters – they’re divine! And if you’re a go-boutique-or-go-home couple, you’ll love Vinden Estate, Spicers Estate, Hart & Hunterand Bimbadgen– which even has an outdoor amphitheatre that hosts concerts from time to time.

Treat yourselves to a wine degustation at  Hungerford Hill Winery

Are you wine-loving foodies? Surprise your partner with the Epic Tasting Experience, a mini-degustation of eight Hungerford Hill wines matched with six bite-sized dishes from Muse Restaurant next door.

Appreciate the finer things in life at  Tempus Two

Set on the rolling hills of the Roche Estate, this cellar door is gorgeous – and its shelves are lined with lovely Tempus Two drops. To make the experience more intimate, you can organise a private tasting.

Sip on colourful cocktails at  The Goldfish

Settle in to a leather booth at this chic cocktail bar. If the weather’s warm, sit on the deck, order a crispy, thin-crust pizza (the braised lamb shoulder and potato is amazing), and admire the views of the Roche Estate. On weekends, you’ll be treated to live music.

Mingle with the locals at  Harrigan’s Irish Pub

To get a taste of everyday life in the Hunter, swap stories at this lively Irish pub.

Visit the Hunter’s first microbrewery

Take a break from wine and check out Hunter Beer Co. With 10 beers on tap, the tasting room has a brew that’ll suit both of you.

Switch to vodka at the  Hunter Distillery

Walk into warehouse distillery, and you might think you’ve wandered into a science lab. It offers flavoured vodka tastings in test-tube shots, along with the occasional gin.

ACTIVITIES

Soak up the scenery at  Yengo  and  Werakata  National Parks

The lush, sprawling parks are home to swimming holes and walking trails, so pack your sneakers and cossies! The Rock, near Pokolbin Mountain Road, also has gorgeous views of the valley.

Sign up for a romantic tour of the Hunter

With Vintage Connection’s Love in the Vines  tour, you’ll be chauffeured around the Hunter’s most picturesque vineyards in a luxury car. The team can also arrange lunch in a private dining room or leave you with a picnic hamper.

Challenge each other to a grape-stomping competition

Adventurous couples, this one’s for you. At the Hunter Valley Resort, you can jump in an open quarter oak barrel, lock arms with your partner and stomp away!

Wander through the  Hunter Valley Gardens

Spread over 60 acres, these gardens are gorgeous. Spend the afternoon getting lost, or do the ultra-romantic Lakes Walk.

Explore the Hunter by horseback

To amp up the romance, hop on the sunset trail ride hosted by Hunter Valley Horse Riding & Adventures.

Go all the way up with a hot air balloon ride

There’s nothing quite like floating above the vineyards while watching the sunrise. For a birds-eye view of the valley, Balloons Aloft will sort you out with a hot air balloon ride, followed by brekkie and bubbles at Peterson’s.

Before you leave, make time to visit…

James Estate

 Bordered by Wollemi National Park, this beautiful estate has a 4km ridge walk and mountain bike tracks to enjoy before a wine tasting.

The SpaatChâteau Élan Hunter Valley

Melt into a couple’s massage at this stunning day spa. Or, escape to Spa Elysia at the Golden Door Retreat or Spa Anise at Spicers Estate for a pamper session.

Calais Estate

This boutique winery might just be the most picturesque vineyard in the valley. Pick up a bottle of wine and a picnic hamper, and then head down to the lake.

Romantic stays…

Somewhere Unique

Sitting on 20 acres of lush bushland, this secluded, adults-only retreat has two cottages, each featuring a log fireplace, rain shower, bath and deck. Snap one up for your and your partner and wake up to a gourmet breakfast basket. 

Wild Edge Retreat

 After a day spent exploring, come back to your couples-only cottage to swim in your private plunge pool and snuggle up by the fireplace or under the starry sky on your deck.

Vinden Estate Wines

 Post wine-tasting, stay the night at this vineyard’s Victorian-style guesthouse, which has a pool, tennis court, and scenic views of the Brokenback Ranges. 

The Carriages Boutique Hotel

 Tucked between the vines of the award-winning winery, this country house has eight spacious suites, along with a saltwater pool, tennis court and garden. For the utmost privacy, book The Gatehouse Cottage.

Little Orchard Cottage

This two-bedroom cottage is as charming as it sounds. The owner, Sally, provides bacon, eggs (from her own chooks!), fresh bread, juice and fruit from the nearby orchard, and down the road, Bistro Molines can deliver dinner.

Casa La Vina

These luxurious, Moroccan-style villas are perfect for a romantic getaway. Each villa has a fireplace, BBQ and courtyard for lunching and stargazing, plus a king bed and kitchenette.

The Boathousesat Leaves & Fishes

Made up of four lakefront cabins, this adults-only retreat is an idyllic hideaway. The Balinese-inspired cabins feature a king bed and marble bathroom with a double shower and stone bath.

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