Love is but a road trip away from Sydney in the Hunter Valley. By Renate Ruge
1, Get in the mood
Splurge on a mini break at Spicer’s Vineyard. Start by checking in and then lay like lizards by the natural pool or relax in the spa amid the gum trees and tranquil flowing water before heading out for dinner at top restaurant Botanica. With excellent drops from their cellar door matched with gourmet dishes such as scallops and salt cod and decadent gnocci, shaved fennel and Pernod sauce or cardoman and pepper-crusted duck. While you are busy dining, your room will be lit by dozens of candles and a petal-filled bath drawn. There are in room massages, before you sink into huge comfy beds watching the flames leap in the open fire. www.spicersgroup.com.au
2, Lunch al fresco at Café Enzo
Share a hot salad, some home-baked bread and olive oil and a glass of David Hook chardy in the sun-drenched patio courtyard at Café Enzo. www.pepperscreek.com.au
3, Cruise around in a Cadillac
Feel the wind in your hair as you zoom from cellar door to cellar door in a cool 1950s Cadillac sedan with its shiny chrome and fins, leaving the day’s driving to your limo chauffeur. www.cadillacweddings.com.au
4, Smell the roses at Hunter Valley Gardens
A flower-lover’s heaven in the wine regions’ historic district of Pokolbin, among the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges. Inhale sweet scents of 1000s of blooms in the rose garden before pottering around the calming streams and water-sculptures in the landscaped miniature Japanese gardens. Phone: 02 49982 222
Bliss out with massages for two and luxe spa treatments like body wraps for a little pampering at Chateau Élan www.chateauelan.com.au or The Golden Door Cypress Lakes Resort email@example.com
6, Horse play
Old fashioned romance can be found going clippety clop around the vineyards in a horse and carriage. It will cost you $85.00 per day or $50.00 half day visiting five wineries and a gourmet picnic lunch thrown in. www.vineyardshuttle.com.au (02) 49 913 655.
7, Wine with a view
Enjoy a swirl of shiraz on Bimbadgen’s huge deck and sweeping scenery www.bimbadgen.com.au. Also recommended is Hungerford Hill’s pretty outlook and outdoor movies www.hungerfordhill.com.au and Wyndham Estate’s patio at their historic cellar door and sprawling vineyards is worth a look too. www.wyndhamestate.com
8, Life’s better with bubbles
Or so it goes sipping fizz with a few oysters thrown in on the deck at Peterson’s home to some very decent bottles of sparkling. www.petersonhouse.com.au
9, Sunset strolls
Catch sight of families of kangaroos as they search for watering holes at dusk. The Hunter is home to many a blazing orange ends to the day. Just float off into the sunset by balloon with Balloons Aloft.
10, Take a tour of Lovedale
The cute heart-shaped area to the north east of the Hunter is Lovedale and it’s filled with boutique wineries. Try Emma’s Cottage Vineyard for organic wines from handpicked grapes and Tatler Wine Cellars and Wandin Hunter Valley for trophy earning drops of classic Hunter varietals like chardonnay, shiraz and semillon.