Hunter Valley Vineyards Restaurants

No matter whether you’re a dedicated foodie or just love getting away from it all and enjoying time with good friends, sharing great food and plenty of fun along the way, Hunter Valley vineyards and restaurants offer something very special.

Boasting world-renowned vineyards, award-winning restaurants, a smorgasbord of magnificent local produce and a host of things to see and do, a visit to the Hunter Valley’s vineyards and restaurants makes for a perfect getaway or a memorable event.

Here are some great fine food and wine tours and ideas to get you salivating.

Award winning dining

With the amazing bounty available for the glass and plate, it’s no wonder that the Hunter Valley is a magnet for some of the world’s top chefs and creative culinary talent.

Few regions have such an incredible variety of cuisines and diversity of dining options on offer, all easily accessible in this compact region. From the finest in French to indulgent Italian to innovative modern Australian and Asian cuisines, the Hunter Valley is a showcase of Australia’s multi-cultural culinary influences.

Some top suggestions for dining: EXP. Restaurant; Muse Restaurant and Muse Kitchen; Restaurant Cuvee; Emerson’s Café & Restaurant; Wandin Estate Restaurant; The Mill Restaurant; Villa Du Pays; Café Enzo; Goldfish Bar & Restaurant; Oishii; Tatler Tapas Café; Yellow Billy Restaurant; Esca Restaurant; Amanda’s on the Edge; Blaxland’s Inn and Hunters Quarter.
You’ll find a quick guide to the region’s top restaurants and other culinary attractions here.

Experience the Hunter’s best in relaxed comfort

iHop’s Progressive Dinner Tours are a comfortable and relaxed way to enjoy some of the Hunter Valley’s top dining experiences. These popular nighttime tours are an ideal way to combine sampling some of the region’s world-class wines (and cheeses) with dinner at one the region’s award-winning restaurants – not to mention enjoying the gorgeous vineyard outlook.

What’s more, with these all-inclusive tours, you also have the option of a private, behind-the-scenes tour of a working family vineyard, and work up an appetite as you learn the art of perfect wine and cheese pairing with an expert.

Degustation Hunter Valley – A showcase of the region’s best

If you’re looking for a true taste of the Hunter Valley, degustation and tasting menus are offered by many of the top restaurants in the region.

The highly acclaimed 2 chef hatted Muse Restaurant located at the Hungerford Hill Winery in Pokolbin is fine dining at its best. With a focus on contemporary Australian cuisine, the degustation and tasting menus offered by Muse is a showcase of the best seasonal Hunter Valley produce on offer, with carefully selected wine pairings by their in-house Sommelier is a culinary treat.

If you are looking for an intimate dining experience EXP. Restaurant is located at Oakvale Wines. Focusing on contemporary Australian cuisine, the restaurant’s tasting and a la carte menus are driven by the seasons and the region’s finest local produce, matched with award winning Oakvale and Hunter Valley wines.

Another popular option is Esca Bimbadgen which showcases Bimbadgen wines by matching them with simple, elegant food in a stunning setting. A pioneer of fine dining in the Hunter Valley, Esca Bimbadgen exemplifies the unique nature of a winery restaurant. The spectacular entrance suspended above the winery is second only to the view from your table.

iHop’s Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours are a flexible, convenient and relaxing way of visiting the region’s best restaurants for that perfect leisurely lunch in the heart of wine country. You’ll find Muse Restaurant at Hop 3, EXP. Restaurant at Hop 9 on the Central Pokolbin Route and Esca Bimbadgen features at Hop 14 on both the Central Pokolbin and Lovedale & North Pokolbin Routes.

Wine and Dine ideas for that special occasion in the Hunter Valley

If you’re looking for that lasting memorable birthday party, corporate function or anniversary celebration, Hunter Valley vineyards and restaurants offer some fantastic options.

A Hunter Valley wine, tasting and dining tour can turn any occasion into a truly memorable evening out or weekend away. The eating, drinking and entertainment options are many and varied, and you can tailor the event to suit your group’s interests and tastes.

Even better, with iHop’s wine and dining tours, there’s no designated driver required, so no fuss and no worries with driving. You know you’re in good hands, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy! Tours run both day and night.
Some suggestions to visit: Sabor Dessert Bar (pure indulgence); High Tea at Gemelli Estate; Adina Olive Grove; Ironbark Hill Brewhouse (handcrafted beers); Lovedale Smokehouse (smoked meats, produce and more); Harrigan’s Irish Pub; Hunter Valley Cheese Factory; Binnorie Dairy (artisan cheeses); Potter’s Brewery; Hunter Valley Distillery; Hunter Valley Smelly’s Cheese Shop and Pokolbin Chocolate & Jam Company.

Getting to the Hunter Valley

When to visit: The restaurants and wineries mentioned are open all year round. Booking ahead is recommended. iHop tours run 6 days a week and the twilight and nights tours run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Other nights available by arrangement. Check here for specific dates and times.

Travel options:Drive north from Sydney via the M1 motorway or board the Sydney to Hunter Valley train at Sydney’s Central Station. Trains depart regularly throughout the day. You can also fly to Newcastle from Sydney and most other Australian capital cities.

Distance and times: The Hunter Valley is around 160 kilometers from Sydney, via the most direct route north on the M1 motorway. Driving typically takes two-and-a-half hours and around a 50-minute drive from Newcastle.

Staying in the Hunter Valley: There are many accommodation options from budget to boutique 5-star winery stays available via online booking sites and travel agents. We recommend staying in Cessnock, Pokolbin, Lovedale and Rothbury areas.

Hunter Valley Cheese Makers

The reputation of the Hunter Valley’s cheese makers is quickly growing to match that of its world famous wine makers. The Hunter Valley Cheese Company is one of the region’s best-known long-standing cheese destinations for cheese-loving visitors. However, there are a host of boutique and specialist cheese makers around the region where you can visit and sample some the best of the cheese makers’ art. Here’s just a ‘taste’ of what’s on offer.

The Hunter Valley Cheese Company

The Hunter Valley Cheese Company in Pokolbin runs The Hunter Valley Cheese Factory, and it’s definitely a must visit on any Hunter Valley cheese tour. This is a boutique cheese factory with its own cheese maturation and tasting rooms.

The beauty of visiting The Hunter Valley Cheese Factory is that you get to sample the same cheeses made on site. One of their expert guides will be on hand to explain each of the cheeses you taste and how they’ve been made.   

What’s on the tasting plate? The Hunter Valley Cheese Company specialises in handmade cow and goat milk cheeses, including fromage blanc, feta, brie, washed and natural rind cheeses, cheddar, tommes and blue vein. Don’t forget to stock up on your favourite cheeses to take with you.

You’ll find The Hunter Valley Cheese Company at Hop 5 (opposite Roche Estate) on the Central Pokolbin route of the iHop Hunter Valley Hop On Hop Off bus tour.

Discovering the Hunter Valley’s top cheese makers

The Hunter Valley Cheese Company is by no means the only cheese show in town. There are an ever-growing number of top cheese makers and specialist cheese companies popping up all over the region.

Two of best are cheesemaker Simon Gough’s Binnorie Dairy and the Hunter Valley Smelly’s Cheese Shop.

After travelling extensively and honing his skills making cheese throughout Europe and later in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, Simon began making cheese at his Binnorie Dairy in 2003. With his extensive cheese knowledge and skill, combined with his passion for sourcing the very best local goat and cow’s milks, Simon produces world-class cheeses with a distinctively Hunter Valley flavour. The Binnorie Dairy has recently opened brand new cheese factory and tasting room in Lovedale that is open to the pubic Tuesdays to Sundays, so drop in and sample some of Simon’s best or make this a must visit stop at Hop 5 on our Lovedale and North Pokolbin Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour service.

Another highlight on any Hunter Valley cheese tour is a visit to the Hunter Valley Smelly’s Cheese Shop. Here you’ll find top local and imported cheeses, as well as a wide variety of gourmet foods, including their own locally-sourced product range. It’s not only a great place to stock up on the best cheeses, you can also sit down for a great meal featuring the best local produce, local wines and beers.

The Hunter Valley Smelly’s Cheese Shop is also home to the Hunter Valley Gelato Company. If you’re a gelato lover, don’t miss the chance to sample the company’s traditional Italian Gelato made with imported Italian ingredients and using their own 200-year-old recipes.

You’ll find Hunter Valley Smelly’s Cheese Shop at both Hop 4 and Hop5 on the Central Pokolbin route. See iHop Hunter Valley Hop On Hop Off bus tour.

Combined cheese and wine tours: The perfect pairing

The wonderful cheese is just one of the reasons to visit the Hunter Valley. There’s also fantastic produce of all types and beautiful natural scenery. But, of course, on top of most people’s lists are the world-famous wines and vineyards.

Naturally, wine and cheese go hand-in-hand – a match made in heaven! And there are many different options on all the iHop Hunter Valley tours. There are three ways you can combine the best Hunter Valley cheese and wines all in the one experience.

iHop’s Hop On Hop Off bus tours are a flexible option that enables you to sample the best cheeses and wines the Hunter has to offer at various stops. With two routes, 30 stops and more than 50 cellar doors you can access, you can enjoy cheese plates with your wine tasting, visit cheese factories, gourmet providores, you can explore all the best of the Hunter your way and at your own pace.  

Taste ‘n’ Graze – Premium Food and Drink Pairing Tours are a great way for foodies and wine lovers to sample the region’s great cheeses, wines and quality seasonal local produce from some the Hunter’s most sought-after winery and dining venues, from fine chocolate to award-winning whiskey. You’ll also pick up some great food and wine pairing tips from the experts along the way that can be shared and enjoyed back home.

iHop’s Wine and Cheese Lovers Twilight Dinner Tours are another fantastic way to enjoy the best the region has to offer. This complete Hunter Valley experience combines sampling the region’s fine wines and cheeses with dinner at an award-winning restaurant set amongst stunning vineyard surrounds. Add to that an insight into the art of perfect cheese and wine pairing, and a private tour behind the scenes of a working family vineyard, and you’ve got an evening you won’t soon forget.  

Getting to Hunter Valley cheese country

When to visit: The cheese makers mentioned, as well as the cellar doors and providores are open all year round. iHop tours run most days. Check here for specific dates and times.

Travel options: Drive north from Sydney via the M1 motorway or board the Sydney to Hunter Valley train at Sydney’s Central Station. Trains depart regularly throughout the day. You can also fly to Newcastle from Sydney and most other Australian capital cities.

Distance and times: The Hunter Valley is around 160 kilometers from Sydney, via the most direct route north on the M1 motorway. Driving typically takes two-and-a-half hours and around a 50-minute drive coming from Newcastle.

Staying in the Hunter Valley: There are many accommodation options from budget to boutique 5-star winery stays available via online booking sites and travel agents. We recommend choosing your perfect wine country accommodation in Lovedale, Pokolbin, Cessnock and Rothbury areas.

Cheese to you!