26°C Sunny

Wishlist

HUNTER VALLEY BLOG

With more than 150 wineries and cellar doors, 65 restaurants and 180 comfy accommodation places to stay, where do you start?

Follow our insider tips by the people who know best… the locals. We ask talented winemakers, chefs, farmers, brewers and journalists to blog about their favourite places and experiences in this fertile wine region.

Dog-friendly Cellar Doors in the Hunter Valley

​Love wine-tasting but get the guilts when you leave your pampered pooch at home? Join the club. Luckily there are plenty of dog-friendly wineries where my spoilt staffy Rosie has been given a warm welcome while I swirl and sip to my heart's content. So, which cellar doors are paw-fect for a dog-friendly Hunter Valley wine tour? I thought I'd ask Rosie.

ROSIE'S RECOMMENDATIONS

BRIAR RIDGE VINEYARD
This is a paw-some place to visit as polite pooches are welcome inside the cellar door, on the large wine-tasting deck and terrace, as well as in the wine garden (pictured above). There's a Doggo Water and Rest Station, where some owners tie up their fur friends but luckily mine don't – I know they like to have me with them all the time so I sneak in forty winks at their feet while they sip on everything from Semillon and Shiraz to Fiano and Verduzzo. Smackos are often on hand for well-behaved dogs and we're also allowed to romp about on grassed areas as long as our fur parents are supervising us (ie no zoomies allowed here!). You'll probably snuff out the scents of the resident Hunter hounds Saffron (Saffy) the staffy, Ernest the labradoodle and Max the pugeagle.

THOMAS WINES
This cellar door at Estate Tuscany is very dog-friendly, which is a relief as my Mum loves the Braemore Semillon here. What I love is the polished concrete floor, which they don't mind me dog-frogging on to cool my belly while she samples Andrew Thomas' smashing Semillon and Shiraz. She usually leans on the bar with me at her feet but there are also tables and chairs where you can sprawl underneath. There's a bowl of water at the door and a pet-friendly table outside the restaurant and bar next door. The 26-acre resort has five dog-friendly rooms where we can stay and they're happy for us to explore the grounds on lead.

GLANDORE ESTATE WINES
This place has a relaxed vibe and five friendly winery dogs to play with, yes five! There are two border collies Nutmeg and Orea, two boxers Ruby and Cookie and a black kelpie called Sunny who's so full of beans she must have eaten the Energizer Bunny. There's always fresh water and a tap if you only want to drink out of your own special bowl, and they have a stash of tennis balls and other doggie toys to keep us entertained while the hoomans sample a range of reds and whites (mine rave about the Tempranillo and the wine and chocolate experience). Owner Duane Roy has something a little special, locked away from the bristling noses of the local fab five, for well-behaved pooches and we're allowed to stroll around the vineyard on lead with our owners too.

Pepper Tree Wines

PEPPER TREE WINES
Another fave spot that's 100% dog friendly. We're allowed around all the grounds, inside the cellar door and the special VIP tasting room called The Vault – basically we can explore everywhere as they love dogs here. And there are plenty of places to sniff as it's surrounded by sweet-smelling flower gardens and lush green lawns made for rolling around. There are water bowls throughout the buildings and grounds, so we can quench our thirst while our owners lap up Gwyn Olsen's award-winning wines. Her schnauzer Spencer is top dog so you might see him patrolling the grounds. Make sure you tell your owners about the Pet Club as you get treats and a new dog lead if your owners sign up.

VINDEN ESTATE
Winemaker Angus Vinden has two German shorthaired pointers – Eadie and Coco – and they go everywhere with him, so that's probably why he allows four-legged friends inside and outside while their owners have a wine-tasting at his boutique, family-owned winery. Mine enjoy the traditional hand-crafted Hunter wines but also like the more experimental wines that are called Headcase. Funny that as it's my middle name! They have water bowls as well as wine glasses, so we can all drink our fill.

CARILLION WINES
This cellar door is super dog friendly and they even have a wine label with a photo of Titch (owner Tim Davis's rescue kelpie) looking for rabbits. Titch is the unofficial rabbit chaser here and she says she knows the location of every rabbit warren and patiently waits for unsuspecting rabbits to come out to play… but they're too clever for her by far! I've been to tastings inside and on the terrace overlooking what Mum says it the most Instagrammed view in the Valley. They always pop down a bowl of fresh water for me and sometimes we stick around to have lunch in the shared courtyard at Bistro Molines. I'm not allowed inside the restaurant, just in the courtyard, but they even put a blanket down for dogs to lay on.

Reed the statue out the front of Gundog Estate Cellar Door

GUNDOG ESTATE HUNTER CELLAR
It's always a tug of war when my humans visit Gundog – Mum wants to buy the Semillon and Dad the Shiraz, so who wins? They usually buy both and that makes them as happy as a dog with two tails. The winery is named after the family dog, there's a dog on the wine label, and there's a big red dog statue, called Reed, guarding the entrance to the cellar door so it's no surprise they're a dog-friendly cellar door. We're allowed to sit on the outdoor verandah of the historic weatherboard Pokolbin schoolhouse with our owners as they have an alfresco wine-tasting. They have dog bowls available for water and there are yummy dog treats for sale in the gourmet pantry too.

TINTILLA ESTATE WINES
My ears perk up when my owners mention Tintilla as it's a dog friendly winery with a great alfresco space for furry mates. There's a large deck area at this Tuscan-inspired cellar door where they hold wine-tastings for fur families. It's a lovely shady spot to chill out while the two-legged family members taste an array of single-vineyard wines, olives, tapenades and chutneys. My humans like the Sangiovese and Shiraz.

Stomp! Wines cellar door in Lovedale

STOMP! WINES
I'm always welcome at an outdoor tasting here and am allowed inside too as long as other humans aren't scared of dogs. There are three cattle x border collies in the Stomp team: Scout and Matilda, two 16-year-old girls who roam the cellar every Saturday and the more energetic Kimba sometimes joins the team midweek. Stomp! provides some top tipples for humans including Semillon, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Shiraz and a fabulous Fiano, with fresh water and a container of dog biscuits under the bar for us. There's also a gallery in the loft of the cellar where they sell re-crafted oak barrel pieces, including dog beds. After the tasting, we're welcome to wonder the property with our owners and there are dams where we can have a doggie paddle although owner Meredith McManus says most owners don't encourage this as they don't want a wet, smelly dog jumping back in the car. Go figure!

LUCY'S RUN WINES
Another dog-themed cellar door and who doesn't love those! This one was named after the original owners' dog Lucy, who is pictured on the wine label, and they have another wine label called Woof Woof wines with 10% of every sale going to Australian charity PetRescue. Owners Brad and Heather Wright love having doggos and their people come visit their boutique nine-acre vineyard. They have water available (for puppers and humans) and I get to mingle with other guests while my people taste Verdelho, Merlot and Shiraz made by three of the Hunter's top winemakers in the big, green Colorbond shed. If I'm good, I get to nibble on a bit of bread when the spices and oils are served (the zaatar is Mum's favourite) but as I'm a bit scatterbrained I'm not allowed to run around in the olive trees near the cellar door. If you're better behaved your owners might let you, but no chasing the roos!

Wine tasting with sleeping pup at Oakvale Wines

OAKVALE WINES
You'd be barking mad to miss out on this cellar door, particularly in winter, as they have an open fire that's the perfect spot to curl up for a kip. Yep, they allow furry companions inside the cellar door so you can park yourself beside your owners while they try some tasty Semillon, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Shiraz, Sangiovese and more. And we're free to wander around the vineyard and grounds afterwards provided we're accompanied by our owner.

MCLEISH ESTATE WINES
Another great spot where every dog can have its (wine-tasting) day. This family-owned boutique brand has won best in show many times for its Semillon, Chardonnay Verdelho, Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot, and it's a winner with mutts too. Canines aren't consigned to an outdoor hitching post here, we get to hang out with our owners inside the cellar door, in the air-con, with a bowl of water while they savour some lip-smacking wines by gun winemaker Andrew Thomas. Afterwards we can run around the grounds until we're dog tired.

They're just some of the places that make me do a doggo happy dance, but there are lots of other wineries who love welcoming wriggly bodies with wagging tails. Tell your owners they can find the full list here.

Related Posts