With more than two dozen wine regions across New South Wales and a string of masterful boutique vineyards, there is just no denying, when it comes to wine, we are spoilt for choice. From biodynamic wines to the award-winning classics, there’s no need to visit only Hunter Valley institutions to find an exceptional tasting and meal. Here are some of the smaller vineyards where you can enjoy all of the above without the crowds.
Vinden Estate Wines
The Vinden’s are all about fun, and that’s what the family deliver to those visiting their cellar door. The boutique winery has been running in the family for more than two decades, producing drops good enough for Sydney’s top restaurants (read: Quay and Sails in Lavender Bay). So, we’re sure they’ll be good enough for you. Based in the Hunter region, the colonial home offers alfresco dining at Bistrot Vinden overlooking acres of vines. The menu - comprising of duck confit, lobster tail and roast lamb rack - doesn’t go without a personal touch, with witty commentary accompanying each dish description.
138 Gillards Road, Pokolbin
Arguably the most picturesque vineyard in the Hunter region, Calais Estate is an old family-owned boutique winery known for its dining scene as much as its quality vintages. The twenty-acre estate has undergone recent refurbishment, and the dining options are now as vast as the award-winning wine varietals. Modern Australian dishes are found at the Verandah restaurant which offers an exceptional tapas menu. For those wanting to indulge their culinary palate by the lake, there are gourmet picnic packs and a special picnic pack dedicated to cheese. Consider your next date sorted.
151 Palmers Lane, Pokolbin
Hart and Hunter only emerged on the boutique winery scene in 2009 but their wines have well and truly made their mark. So much so, they even engrave their labels on the magnum. Run by two couples in the Hunter, the boutique winery does everything with a modern touch and is arguably staking claim as the best boutique winery in the region. The estate recently added a cellar door to the vineyard and now their much-loved wines can be enjoyed with canapes.
463 Deasys Road, Pokolbin
Time-poor Sydneysiders wanting to refine their wine palate no longer have to look any further than the inner west. Winemaker Alex Retief has brought Sydney’s best wine regions to the big smoke in the hope of bringing city-dwellers together through a collective appreciation of the state’s finest drops. The winery, based in St Peters, is the first urban winery in Sydney where Retief handcrafts his own wines on site, sourcing from cool climate regions across the state including his family’s farm. While the acreage is limited, the amount of activities are limitless with blending master classes, wine tastings and events held at the cellar door. Long lunches are held on the final Sunday of each month; a different chef and winemaker join forces matching six wines to four courses. For $110 per person, it’s one not to be missed.
Suite 6.01 Precinct 75, 75 Mary Street, St Peters
A boutique winery receiving ongoing five star ratings from the James Halliday Wine Companion, Briar Ridge is a must-stop. Nestled in Mount View of the Hunter region, the cellar door offers wine tastings in the museum cellar room or on the deck overlooking a luscious garden. The hungry can enjoy award-winning wines accompanied by cheese and antipasto platters, with all produce sourced from local providores.
593 Mount View Road, Mount View
Although not a foodie destination, you can’t run a list of boutique wineries without mentioning Brangayne Vineyard. The Hoskin family are boutique, through and through. Despite owning Brangayne Vineyard for more than eighty years the Hoskins have managed to keep their vintages small, producing premium batches of wine. Based in Orange, the changing seasons bring new depth to their wines, but one thing remains; awards. The Hoskins have produced award winning chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and, really, it just goes on. When only 3000 cases are produced each year, it’s worth a trip to their cellar door which is open by appointment for groups of 12 or more.
Brangayne, 837 Pinnacle Road, Orange
Quality drops with a sustainable outlook, Krinklewood does wine differently. The winery produces biodynamic, organic wines which can be enjoyed best at their French-inspired cellar door situated in the quieter side of the Hunter Valley. Do as the French do and enjoy a cheese platter with your wine tasting in the garden overlooking vines and olive trees. And if you’re really inspired, sign up for the annual biodynamic winemaking workshop.
712 Wollombi Road, Broke