Hunter Valley recommendations

boomy

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Planing 3-day trip in February. My last visit was too many years ago so I’ll need some fresh cellar door and restaurants (preferably BYO or with good wine list) recommendations.

Any other interesting things to do/see tips will also be much appreciated.
 

afro

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Other than wine, the hunter distillery and the Sydney brewery, zoo.
As for food, I never tried those expensive restaurants,always cafes , there’s a lovedale smokehouse cafe/restaurant if you are into smoke meats.
Fresh cellar door can be tricky,I always stick with the ones I know unless the locals/winemakers(if you get to speak to one at the tasting) recommends.
But be warn! The tasting experience aren’t as “friendly” as it use to be, any walk-in tasting will be treated as a tourist,unless you have proof yourself as a real drinker. if you already have a list of cellar door, book it in advance , same as restaurants.
 

ellen10

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We visited the Hunter valley in the September school holidays, (we had not been there for many years). Wow was it busy! But at least February won't be school holidays.
That said we had a great time. Lots of the same well established cellar doors but lots of new ones too.

When we visited most places required a prior tasting booking ( although we did sometimes just phone 5 mins prior to see if they could fit us in , usually easy if just two of you). We prefer the smaller cellar doors and visited a couple which we really liked, the wines were delicious but also the ambiance or people serving made it a nice experience. A couple that we liked a bit out of the way near the Broke road) were Thomas & Allen and Talits Estate. These wineries only sell at cellar door or wine club. We also liked McLeish wines, we were served by the owner and joined their club. Another that we visited was Tamburlaine Organic Winery, which we first visited 36 years ago. They usually have very good prices and have easy drinkable every day wines.

For a wine diversion we visited the Hunter Valley gardens which were lovely. As our visit was a spur of the moment decision and cover numbers were limited we didn't visit any of the more up market restaurants, as they were already rebooked. We did have a nice meal at the Mighty Hunter Brewery (new name since our visit).

Hope this helps
 

billbro

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No idea about fresh cellar doors, would just go with the classics (for us anyway):
- Lakes Folly
- Tyrrells
- Keith Tulloch (swanky seating overlooking the vineyard)
- Thomas Wines

We actually haven't been to Mount Pleasant, but on the cards for the next trip. Brokenwood has a new cool CD set up but it's pretty pricey, but they have Wine Emotion machines including access to Graveyard that is now crazily priced.

Restaurant - Muse Lorn is new and really good and pours via Coravin, including KT Field of Mars and Lakes Folly by the glass for example. Muse restaurant food quality is up there with Sydney fine diners and the pricing is fair for the degustation menu when viewed in light of this. Botanica is solid, while Bistro Molines is quite rustic in terms of food but the views are so picturesque.

Most CDs we have visited have moved to booked sessions, which we actually prefer but plan ahead.

Edit: wow I used the word pretty a zillion times, I blame responding on my phone and not reading what I typed!

Also worth noting that our friends used to find Piggs Peake quite fun, but not even close to the quality of the wineries listed above.
 
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I usually do Hunter valley in a day just to sample my usual orders but in December I went up with 3 friends who know their wines and had 2 days.
All Cellar Doors are bookings only because of Covid 19 so book in advance. You can take pot luck and book on the day but expect to be disappointed.
The cellar doors are charging for tastings to cut down on the tourists. I would suggest booking the premium tastings, if you are serious, and ask if they will credit it back towards your purchase if you buy enough wine. The time and attention on the premium tastings is well worth it, especially if you are buying.

Cellar Doors : Tyrrells, Tullochs, Ben Ean, Tamberlaine, There are plenty to choose from
Lunch: Baume (in Ben Ean) does a good share for 2 plate so 4 of us ordered two dishes and a side dish that was very good. Harrigans Irish Pub has a restaurant but also counter meals. (I like to have something other than wine to drink after a day of wine tasting)
Accommodation: Mecure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens is very centrally located and you can walk to some cellar doors and Hunter Valley Gardens and Harrigans. Good if you have an Accor membership.
 

boomy

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Thanks for the information. Haven’t been there for so long I’m happy to just do the classics with maybe few boutique wineries to add on. Weather doesn’t look great for next week so we’ll probably focus on drinking and eating, can’t complain about that ;)

For accommodation I’ve booked Chateau Elan.
Location seems good and price was decent for a Villa.

Time to book some restaurants and cellar doors :)
 
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Jubas

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I've stayed at Chateau Elan - very nice, particularly with the kangaroos coming out at dusk/dawn. You can also walk to Bimbadgen which is a nice winery
 

Dr Ralph

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I'm headed to the Hunter in a few days. Spending a couple of nights. Any updates on great cellar doors? I've booked Lakes Folly so far.
 

boomy

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I'm headed to the Hunter in a few days. Spending a couple of nights. Any updates on great cellar doors? I've booked Lakes Folly so far.

Book the premium tasting at Tyrells. Can’t recommend it highly enough! Don’t bother with the premium tasting experience at Brokenwood, we found it too commercial and underwhelming. On the other hand Mount Pleasant exceeded our expectations. Their tasting is relatively cheap and we we’re able to taste any wine from their list, including Maurice O’Shea. Tulloch is alright, worth dropping in to taste their vintage Dry Reds. Keith Tulloch has nice tasting experience matched with cheese plate and nice views of the vineyard. Thomas also have some nice wines, huge range so need to pick and choose.
 

billbro

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Book the premium tasting at Tyrells. Can’t recommend it highly enough! Don’t bother with the premium tasting experience at Brokenwood, we found it too commercial and underwhelming. On the other hand Mount Pleasant exceeded our expectations. Their tasting is relatively cheap and we we’re able to taste any wine from their list, including Maurice O’Shea. Tulloch is alright, worth dropping in to taste their vintage Dry Reds. Keith Tulloch has nice tasting experience matched with cheese plate and nice views of the vineyard. Thomas also have some nice wines, huge range so need to pick and choose.
We are up here right now and that list sums it up nicely.

Tyrrells as private bin members was fantastic, the landmark releases were stomping.

Mount Pleasant has a solid range (including bottle age, had the '95 Old Paddock & Old Hill today).

Keith Tullochs is a lovely setting on the verandah and Thomas Wine has a pretty decent value wines (except for Like A Version!).

We also just came from a Brokenwood dinner and agree it is very commercialised, but being able to taste say LDR Sem or Graveyard via WineEmotion is pretty cool.
 

afro

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If you want something out of the ordinary, here’s a few names you can google then check their websites on booking for a tasting.

hartandhunter - a 2020 release hunter Riesling, good with sashimi

vinden wines - some new experimental wines from 2021

comyns&co. - the winemaker use to work with Jim chatto at Pepper tree. Another hunter Riesling to try.

harkham wines - reds are good , haven’t tried their whites yet.
 

ellen10

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To add to the list a couple of wineries that we visited for the first time and enjoyed was Thomas & Allen and McLeish wines. Neither sells commercial just cellar door and wine club members.
 

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