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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.

The Hunter Valley's hidden gem

It's been dubbed the "best-kept secret in the Hunter Valley" but the secret is well and truly out – Broke is stunning, secluded and produces an exceptional glass of wine.​

With impressive views just about everywhere you go, Broke is the quintessential rural retreat.

It's a peaceful pocket of the Valley that's slightly off the beaten track (about 15km west of Pokolbin) and offers ample opportunity for a relaxed stay, a quality meal and a friendly cellar door experience.

It's hands-down the perfect place to settle in for a sundowner while you watch the colours change on the iconic sandstone formation known as Yellow Rock as the sun goes down and the wildlife come out to play.

Most famed for Hunter Valley classics Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz, Broke is also known for its Verdelho, which has a rich, ripe character and distinctive flavour. Produced from grapes dating back to the late 1960s and some right back to the end of World War I, when returning soldiers settled on the land and planted grapes, these are some of the oldest Verdelho vines in Australia (some say the world).

More than a quarter of the Hunter Valley wine production is produced from the rapidly growing Broke Fordwich region, however it's still respected and valued for its unique approach and boutique growers. In fact, visit during the week and you'll likely find some cellar doors closed, as the teams are busy out in the vines or working in the olive groves, which the area is also recognised for. The weekends though, are for celebrating. 

Margan Wines & Restaurant.

EAT

A former dairy has been transformed into a beautiful rustic cafe at Mount Broke Wines and with sprawling views across a gorgeous vineyard leading down to the river, it's easy to relax. Open from 11am on the weekends, and Friday nights for dinner, the steak is perfect, woodfired pizzas tasty, and desserts worth being tempted for.

One of the leading producers of the Broke region, Margan run a cellar door and restaurant, inspired by owners Andrew and Lisa's travels. Both the wines and food are committed to their ethos of "estate grown and made". Their carefully curated, quality wines are the perfect accompaniment to chef hatted Margan Restaurant's fare, including free-range chickens, estate-raised lambs, self-produced honey and plump olives. Complemented by locally sourced and seasonal or biodynamic produce, don't miss their crispy hen egg with asparagus. 

Krinklewood Vineyard

​DRINK

There may not be many cellar doors in Broke but the ones there are certainly deliver the goods. French inspired in look, but driven by the environment in execution, Krinklewood is a biodynamic, organic, and sustainability focused vineyard and farm, producing enviable wines. Peacocks roam free and you may even spot a piglet or two between sips. Vigneron Rod Windrim says Krinklewood's aim is to produce "great wine that actually tastes of where it is grown." The result is an intense, flavour-filled, vibrant range that is way too easy to enjoy.

Kick off your wine tasting at Whispering Brook with a sensory olive tour – an unmissable experience for foodies. If you can stop tasting their delicious lemon myrtle olive oil, you might even get a chance to enjoy the Sparkling Shiraz and Rose. It is a friendly and accommodating vineyard with a people-first focus.

Greenway Wines

Boasting spectacular 180-degree-views, tastings at Catherine Vale Wines are hosted in a converted chapel for maximum atmosphere. Shipped in from Singleton, the historic chapel was restored over a 20-year period before having a cellar door addition custom built to complement the original, both of which are now toasted regularly. The winery specialises in growing Italian grape varieties, with three on offer including Arneis, Barbera and Dolcetto.​

One of the magical things about Broke is that the vineyards are more often than not family owned and operated, which means you are being served your wine from the people most passionate about it. Greenway Wines is one such vineyard, with 100% estate-grown fruit and a ruthless focus on quality. The Traminer, Shiraz and Rose all get a very big nod.

1813 Wines

​A vineyard that invites you to pick a bunch of grapes to have a munch on while you wander around or travel onwards, now that's a truly hands-on experience! 1813 is a boutique vineyard and part of the Tinonee Vineyard Estate, a breathtakingly picturesque property. Recently renovated, the cellar door features barn doors, black metal features and picks up on the styling notes from the main Residence nearby. Settle in on the terrace by the open log fire and watch roos hop through the vines at sunset as you enjoy a tasting.

SEE

If you need to burn off a few glasses of Shiraz, then strap your walking boots on and head out to some of the many bushwalking tracks around Mount Yengo. The Yengo National Park can also be explored by 4WD or mountain bike, and is a rugged landscape of gorges, ridges and spectacular scenery. It's an animal lover's paradise, with koalas having a lazy munch, roos aplenty and even a wombat or two to admire.

World Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park is your next stop, with wild rivers, canyons and vast wilderness to be awed by. There are also many Aboriginal rock engravings and sacred sites to check out. Broke has a strong Aboriginal history, first inhabited by the indigenous Wanaruah tribe, who created many culturally significant cave paintings, including the red ochre Baiame Cave. 

Italy in Broke Festival

DO

The major appeal of Broke is its seclusion and tranquillity but there are most certainly times when Broke comes out to party. Already developing a cult following, the Broke Village Markets, held the first Sunday of each month, is a little market with heart and features gourmet food, timber toys, craft from local artisans and more.

Building on that spirit is the Broke Village Fair and Vintage Car Display, held in September. Filled with everything a great village fair has to offer, including animal displays and rides, live music, bush poetry, tug-o-war competitions and whip cracking, this truly is an Aussie outing.

On the more exotic side, A Little Bit of Italy will ensure your "la dolce vita" quota is filled. Taking place in early April, local growers, artisans and chefs offer up a feast of pasta, antipasto, panini and gelato, all washed down with Italian inspired wines and live music. Magnifico!

Tinonee Vineyard Estate

​STAY

Being greeted with a bottle of wine and a breakfast pack including freshly picked parsley, free-range eggs and bacon will give you immediate comfort that you've booked a great place to stay while visiting Broke. Red Tractor Retreat is a rustic home with loads of areas to spread out and enjoy yourself with family or friends. A refreshing dip in the pool after a day of exploring in summer is perfect, and a snuggle by the fire with a glass of red is ideal in winter. Just make sure you carve out some time for a soak in the claw footed bathtub! Nearby is Tinonee Vineyard Estate, a stately, classic home (the original front part of the house was built in the 1930s) with gorgeous views across the vines. This is one of the area's most distinctive and elegant properties and is popular with wedding parties, as it offers accommodation for large groups. The Residence at Tinonee Vineyard is the ultimate in luxury and is styled to absolute perfection. Expect to swoon! The Dairy is their smaller cottage, and is equally as stylish and classy.

For more info go to brokefordwich.com.au

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