NSW – Hunter Valley – Hunter rewards adventurous visitors

By Winsor Dobbin
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Bistro Molines, Mount View, Hunter Valley

Bistro Molines, Mount View, Hunter Valley

Little Orchard cottage, Hunter Valley
Margan Restaurant, Hunter Valley
Whispering Brook, Hunter Valley
Balloon Aloft, Hunter Valley


The Hunter Valley has several wineries that should be on any visitor’s “must do” list: Tyrrell’s, McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant and Drayton’s are old-established family companies while Brokenwood and Hungerford Hill are more modern icons, both celebrating their 40th birthdays in 2010.

But for those who are making return visits to the region, it pays to visit some of the Hunter’s roads less travelled, where you find boutique wineries and a peace and quiet that’s hard to locate in and around the busy Pokolbin region.

This itinerary takes in two of the Hunter’s less visited regions; Broke and Mount View, where the winery experience is usually a far more personal one.

Both may be less than a 15-minute drive from Pokolbin, but offer a charming and less commercial experience.


Stop 1 – Tasting at Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard

There can be few more beautiful vineyards anywhere in the Hunter than Rod and Suzanne Windrim’s Krinklewood on the way out of Broke in the direction of Wollombi. It’s a farm with a wonderfully laconic ambience that also produces beef, sheep, olives and vegetables and is home to menagerie of birds, including chickens, geese and peacocks. The Windrims first planted grapes in 1981 and expanded their vines in 1997. The rustic cellar door is set around Provencal gardens, urns and fountains and family members are keen to explain the principles of biodynamic grape growing.

You must taste: The Krinklewood 2009 Chardonnay is stunning as are the semillons, verdelhos and the Francesca rose. Wines under the Wild White and Wild Red labels are excellent value for money.

Open: Weekends and public holidays 10am-5pm
712 Wollombi Road, Broke
Phone (02) 6579 1322


Stop 2 – Tasting at Nightingale Wines

One of a number of small wineries in the Broke-Fordwich area, Nightingale offers a warm welcome and also has an on-site restaurant.

Open: Daily. Winery Tours weekends from 11am
1239 Milbrodale Road, Broke
Phone (02) 6579 1499


Stop 3 – Tasting at Whispering Brook

Whispering Brook is a family-owned boutique vineyard and olive grove that produces a range of well-made wines. The cellar door has sweeping verandas and terrific views and there is also on-site guesthouse perfect for those who enjoy being off the beaten track. Cheese and antipasto platters are available at cellar door.

You must taste: The semillon and the rose are both appealing.

Open: 11am-5pm Saturday and 10.30am-4.30pm Sunday
165 Hill Street, Broke
Phone (02) 9818 4216


Stop 4 – Tasting and lunch at Margan Tasting Room and Restaurant

Leading Hunter winemaker Andrew Margan and his restaurateur wife Lisa have won several awards since opening their rammed-earth tasting room and restaurant. New chef Ian Atkinson’s career highlights include cooking alongside Christine Manfield and David Thompson and he specialises in Modern Mediterranean flavours, textures and traditions of Italy, France and Spain.  The menu is updated frequently to reflect seasonal changes and the availability of local produce. The restaurant’s kitchen garden provides many of the fruits, vegetables and eggs used in the kitchen.

You must taste: Margan 2010 Frizzante is a new offering, while Margan makes some of the best barbera in the region, along with very good semillon and shiraz (the 2008 was one of the few successful Hunter shirazes from a wet year).

Open: Cellar door daily. Restaurant Friday-Saturday for lunch and dinner and Sundays for breakfast and lunch
1238 Milbrodale Road, Broke
Phone (02) 6579 1317


Stop 5 – Tasting at Briar Ridge

Briar Ridge was for many years one of the Hunter’s forgotten gems, but winemaking team Jim Chatto and Karl Stockhausen have helped lift it back to prominence and the pretty cellar door, surrounded by gardens, is convivial spot for a tasting. Next door is Briar Grillade, where new chef Derek Watson (who has worked with Serge Dansereau and Luke Mangan) serves light lunch options like char-grilled Nulkaba quail on soft polenta with sage butter sauce.

You must taste: the 2010 Daisy Hill Semillon is stunning, as is the 2009 Chardonnay.

Open: Cellar door daily. Briar Grillade Wednesday-Sunday for lunch
Mount View Road, Mount View
Phone (02) 4990 3670


Stop 6 – Tasting at Tallavera Grove

Tallavera Grove, one of several labels owned by John Davis, offers some of the best views to be found anywhere in the Hunter and is part of the same complex as Bistro Molines. Young winemaker Luke Watson is making some very good wines.

You must taste: The 2009 shiraz and chardonnay are both very good but the lean, minerally 2010 semillon is the star.

Open: Thursday-Monday 10am-5pm
749 Mount View Road, Mount View
Phone (02) 4990 7535


Stop 7 – Dinner at Bistro Molines

Veteran Hunter chief Robert Molines has earned a hat in both the 2010 and 2011 editions of the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and has rediscovered his mojo since his move to Mount View. Bistro Molines offers spectacular vineyard views but the real stars are the seasonal dishes, prepared with Molines’ traditional French flair. It’s hard to think of a better spot at which to enjoy a long lunch or leisurely dinner.The menu changes every day and there are daily blackboard specials but dishes like rillettes with spicy chutney, cornichons and Melba toast and sautéed lamb kidneys with Puy lentils and rosti potato are perennial favourites and the desserts are uniformly decadent.

Open: Thursday-Monday for lunch; Friday and Saturday for dinner
Mount View Road, Mount View
Phone (02) 4990 9553


Stop 8 – Overnight at Little Orchard

Robert Molines’ wife Sally has created a gorgeous guest cottage called Little Orchard in the original homestead of the Tallavera Grove property. The stylish two-bedroom/two-bathroom, self-contained cottage overlooks a stunning valley (keep an eye out for the local fox) and has all the comforts of home. Bacon and eggs from the family’s chickens, fresh local breads, juices and fruit from the little orchard (hence the name!) are provided for a leisurely self-cooked breakfast.

Open: Daily
749 Mount View Road, Mount View
Phone (02) 4990 9553


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  • Lower Hunter (NSW)
  • Hunter Valley (NSW)

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October 11th, 2010
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