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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 magic of Mount View

​ If you're looking for exquisite views, kick-ass wines and a bucolic bistro that enchants all who enter, head to this hidden haven in the mountains.

When you think of the fairy kingdom what comes to mind? A breathtakingly beautiful realm with lush green hills and majestic mountains with intoxicating beverages and out-of-this-world food? Welcome to the magical place that is Mount View.

Like all supernatural sites, it's hidden away in a far-flung corner of Wine Country and requires some finding, but it's so worth searching out.

Set the GPS to find Mount View Road – the road that weaves up the mountain to the hilltop home of the fairy folk – and along the way you'll discover terraced vineyards and a bewitching array of family-owned cellar doors famed for their boutique Hunter Valley bevvies Semillon, Shiraz, Verdelho and Chardonnay as well as some fashionable outliers, like Albarino, Tempranillo and Vermentino.

It's an Instragrammer's dream destination with towering gums, spring-fed creeks and a patchwork of pastoral fields where cows munch contently and kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos flit across the land.

Oh, to be stuck here forever!

Barrel tasting at Savannah Estate

DRINK

If you meet a fairy at Savannah Estate who will grant one wish, ask for unlimited cases of the 2014 Hunter Valley Shiraz. It's a knockout wine from a knockout vintage. The rustic timber hut is pure Australiana and the prime tasting spot in summer is the verandah overlooking the gum tree out front (there's a cosy fire indoors for winter tastings).

The sign on the entrance to Mount View Estate says "wines with a view" and that's what you get when you open the glass doors in the cellar door to the tables out back. It's a top spot to sample the 40-year-old estate-grown wines while gazing over the vine-covered hills (the Pinot Noir Shiraz is a cracker).

They like their road signs in Mount View with Petersons Wines proudly boasting "big reds". No surprise then that this unassuming hilltop cellar door with panoramic views offers a mix of Hunter, Mudgee and McLaren Vale reds so you're bound to find one that revs your engine. On a summer scorcher, though, it's a refreshing Hunter Semillon that really hits the spot.

The wine garden at Briar Ridge

Folklore says fairies love to hide amid flowers and trees so that could explain why Briar Ridge Vineyard's new wine garden experience is so enchanting. The lush garden is a magical setting to sprawl on outdoor bean bags, tucking into a cheese or antipasto platter while sipping some beguiling wines. Apart from impressive Hunter classics you can taste a range of new varieties including the Spanish white Albarino and Italian white Fiano.

Wine tasting at Carillion Wines

​Wind your way further up the mountain and the road turns to dirt, just before you reach Carillion Wines (formerly Tallavera Grove Vineyard). You could be forgiven for thinking this is the seat of the fairy council as you step through the wisteria-covered archway to the captivating courtyard overlooking one of the prettiest views in the Valley. Home to the iconic Bistro Molines restaurant and Carillion's cellar door, it's one of the most Instagrammed spots in Wine Country.If you're lucky you'll be able to grab a seat at one of the outdoor tables on the verandah and take in the spellbinding views as you sample the wines. The small boutique winery specialises in traditional local varieties as well as some funky blends like Semillon, Verdelho and Chardonnay, and Italian varieties Sagrantino, Vermentino and Verduzzo.

Sweeping views of Mount View while dining at Bistro Molines

​EAT

After tasting, head next door to Bistro Molines. If fairies could feast anywhere, they'd choose this beautiful bistro. The legend behind the one-hatted restaurant is French-born Robert Molines, a pioneer of fine dining in the Hunter. He and wife Sally have created a dreamy dining spot known for its ripping repertoire of delicious French-inspired dishes, good wine and hospitality. Dotted with whimsical knick-knacks and buckets of sweet-smelling roses, it appeals to all the senses. 

Explore our great outdoors

SEE

On a clear day, you can see all the way to Newcastle's Stockton Beach and Barrington Tops from the Bimbadeen Lookout in Mount View. It's just 1.6km from Bistro Molines to the summit – a three-minute drive or 30-minute walk.

The views from the mountaintop are expansive, overlooking several mountains, including Mount Sugarloaf, and the towns of Cessnock, Kurri Kurri and Maitland in the distance. This lofty location's other claim to fame is that is it has a bit of a reputation as a lovers' lane after dark!

Winery tours at Briar Ridge

DO

After all that wine-tasting and fabled fare at Bistro Molines you may need to burn off a few more kilojoules. So, after checking out the view from Bimbadeen Lookout, take the right fork onto Mount Bright Road, which leads up to Mount Bright Lookout for more fab vistas through the trees. Here you can join part of the Great North Walk, which runs from Sydney to Newcastle, and hike along the bushy Mount View ridgeline to Pokolbin Mountains Road Lookout. It's a magical bushwalk along a unique trail hidden away on the mountaintop.

You can also take a leisurely stroll through some of the vineyards and wineries to learn about the alchemy of making wine from grapes by taking a guided tour.

Briar Ridge runs a Walk Between The Wines Vineyard Tour of its Shiraz vineyard every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1.30pm where you sip on a glass of wine as you ramble through the vines and learn about the lifecycle of a vineyard. Cost is $15pp.There's also a Behind The Scenes winery tour afterwards at 2pm, where you can sample wines straight from the barrel. Cost is $20pp.

Carillion Wines also runs scheduled vineyard tours but not during vintage as they're busy harvesting the grapes this month. But from March onwards you can join a tour every Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am, starting with a soil briefing in the cellar door followed by a walk through the vines lining the slopes of the hill culminating in a tasting back inside the cellar door. Cost is $12pp.

Tharah Country Homestead managed by Hunter Valley Stays

STAY

Mount View may be the fairies' favourite dwelling place, but the comfy homesteads and cabins nestled in the rolling hills don't just welcome the wee folk. Mere mortals are also well catered for with everything you need for a laid-back getaway.

If you're looking for a tranquil sanctuary where you can bring the whole gang, including your fur babies, you'll sleep easy at Tharah country homestead. Set within six acres it has oodles of space with nine bedrooms and loads of features to keep everyone happy including a pool, outdoor pizza oven, children's playground and a games shed with pool table and table tennis.

Higher up the mountain, Cedars Mount View is a peaceful spot to put your feet up, with five luxe villas strategically positioned in the 100-acre estate to maximise privacy and panoramic views. It's a romantic retreat – adults only – with a spring-fed creek where fairies come to play and guests can enjoy a picnic.

Rural retreat at Cedars Mount View

Nearby Alphawood also has an enviable location, perched on top of the mountain with fabulous views over the treetops to the Watagan Mountains. The six-bedroom holiday home is huddled in 13 acres with a striking 9m x 4m magnesium mineral pool where you can relax and revive after sightseeing.

If your holiday hit list includes swinging in a hammock slung between the gum trees, Cottages on Mount View may be just what you need. There are four, rustic timber cottages, three outfitted with outdoor spas, positioned within a 120-acre bushland setting with wildlife galore.

Yep, Mount View is a spellbinding place to visit, that's for sure. 

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