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Chocolate and Wine Pairing at Glandore Estate Wines
Photograph: Cassandra HannaganChocolate and Wine Pairing at Glandore Estate Wines

Five unusual wine pairings in the Hunter Valley

Discover these out-of-the-box things to enjoy with Hunter Valley wines

By Time Out in association with Destination NSW and the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association
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Wine is an integral part of the Hunter Valley experience, and while some cellar doors will hand you a cheese plate to enhance your tasting, other places are offering some less obvious accompaniments for their prized local drops. From chocolate and olives to art and a flight in a hot air balloon, these are five unique ways to experience the fruits of Australia’s oldest wine region, a pleasant two-hour drive north of Sydney. 

Where: 1595 Broke Rd, Pokolbin
Open: Daily 10am-5pm 
How much? $30

Life is good with a glass of wine in hand but tastes that much better with some chocolate on the side. Glandore Estate Wines is an award-winning cellar door renowned for its traditional wine varieties that boast great character and style. Relax as they take your senses on a journey tasting six of their handcrafted wines. Each glass is carefully paired with a chocolate truffle, lovingly made by boutique Sydney chocolate makers Adora, and chosen to create harmony on your palate. Book online for this tempting experience. 

Make a weekend of it: Spicers Guesthouse offers five-star accommodation in the heart of the Hunter Valley. Relax overlooking 40 acres of surrounding mountain ranges and neighbouring vineyards, then take a short stroll to éRemo Restaurant for a modern contemporary Italian feast.

Where: 350 Wollombi Rd, Broke
Open: Fri 11am-3pm; Sat 11am-4pm; Sun 11am-3pm 
How much? $150

In a little red barn on the banks of the Wollombi Brook, you’ll find this boutique vineyard, renowned for its sustainable wines made from 100 per cent estate-grown fruit. Their four-hour private Art N’ Sip in the Vines experience includes a vineyard tour with a glass of sparkling fiano, wine tasting with cheese and charcuterie, plus the opportunity to paint your very own masterpiece (all art materials are provided). You don’t need to be an artist to join in on the fun but make sure to book in advance on their website. 

Make a weekend of it: Six private cottages make up the digs at the extraordinary Billabong Moon – they include one perched on the edge of a billabong and one with an outdoor bathtub set among the trees. Finish your evening with a local and sustainable meal at Modern Australian Restaurant Botanica where wine and adventure are the talk of the table.

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Where: 2450 Broke Rd, Pokolbin 
When: Daily 10am-5pm (closed Christmas Day)
How much? $60pp

Hungerford Hill’s Epic Tasting is an award-winning event that brings together the best of food and wine in the Hunter Valley. A mini-degustation of five dishes created by the acclaimed Muse Restaurant, such as their housemade toasted brioche with duck ham and beetroot and the coconut and rhubarb Eton mess, are paired Hungerford Hill wines and delivered to you on the lush landscapes of their boutique estate. 

Make a weekend of it:

If you’re looking for another great cellar door experience give Saddlers Creek a go – this family owned winery famous for its warm welcome and award-winning wines has a range of tastings available to book. Then sleep among grapevines and greenery at the Carriages Boutique Hotel and Vineyard. This romantic retreat is a short drive to Esca Bimbadgen Restaurant where you can head at night to enjoy a simple yet elegant evening snack. 

Where: Vintage Drive, Pokolbin
When: Daily
How much? Various prices 

Château Élan at the Vintage Golf Club has one of the largest private spas in Australia. It offers dedicated spaces for massage and hydrotherapy, exercise and beauty as well as lounge areas for extended relaxation, socialising and wellbeing. Every package has the option of a ‘Pamper Your Palate’ add-on where you get to enjoy a platter and Hunter Valley wine in the Hydrolounge after your treatment. This resort’s relaxing spa suites and villas are ideal for both overnight breakaways or week-long holidays. 

Make a weekend of it: It’s not all about wine in the Hunter Vallery – check out the beers at IronBark Hill Brewhouse via an $18 tasting paddle. Drop by Hunters Quarter for a memorable dinner by chef Brian Duncan where à la carte highlights include seared kangaroo loin, and Moreton Bay Bug and spanner crab dumplings. Kick back the next morning and enjoy a casual brunch at Leaves and Fishes, where their fresh, Asian-inspired seafood dishes are the way to go.

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Where: Rodd Street, Broke 
When: Fri-Sun 10.30am-5pm (and at other times by appointment)
How much? $25 

Whispering Brook is a luxurious winery housed amongst the natural beauty of the Broke area and is renowned for its prized red wines, premium whites, and olive products. Dedicated foodies and wine lovers alike can immerse themselves in a guided tasting of Whispering Brook’s fresh oils and olives. You’ll learn about olive cultivation, harvest and the estate’s artisan methods of olive and olive oil production. Make sure to book online.

Make a weekend of it: Stay a night or two in one of the grand houses at Jindalee Estate. This eco-friendly retreat has unbelievable views of neighbouring vineyards, fireplaces and modern farm-style furnishings. And for dinner? The Mill is must-try restaurant in a rustic, semi-outdoor space where the finest local produce is sourced daily and crafted into an exciting modern menu. 

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