The picturesque Hunter Valley is one of Sydney’s favourite weekends away, and so what better time to visit if you’re a foodie than during their annual food and wine festival. Sydney Social visited the wine region recently to handpick the best of the bunch for you fruity sorts.
Brandishing Two Chef Hats in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Good Food Guide, Muse is the kind of place where high expectations are surpassed. The perfect entrance to Pokolbin in the iconic Hungerford Hill Winery, husband and wife team Troy and Megan Rhoades-Brown, have not only created a venue renowned for their fresh and exciting dishes, but also, for their professional and friendly service. Allow them to make dish suggestions as they know it best (and because the entire menu is a highlight), and, do us all a favour and ask for Stephane the sommelier – you’ll leave Muse feeling a little tipsy, but well-informed on wine from all over the world.
While its Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired menu will entice your senses and enhance the flavours of their delicious wines, RidgeView’s vista is something else. The team use only local produce to create their fresh, seasonal menu, with most of it grown in their organic vegetable garden. Opt for a Chef’s Tasting Plate, which in our opinion, is the perfect platter for slow grazing while overlooking the sweeping view of their rustic vineyards. If you’re around for the Hunter Valley Food and Wine Festival, then lock in a spot at their Ocean to Paddock Winemaker’s dinner complete with 7-course degustation and wines.
Pioneers of agri-dining in Hunter Valley, Margan Restaurant stands by their ‘estate grown, estate made’ mantra. Menus are based primarily on what they harvest from their one acre kitchen garden and orchard, in addition to their olive trees, free range chickens and lambs. In June, the restaurant will be hosting a 100 metre meal as part of the Hunter Valley Food and Wine Festival, which includes a morning garden tour with the head chef, followed by a three course lunch matched with Margan wine made from the 100 hectares of vineyards.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley 
Whether you’re planning a surprise stay for your partner, a golf weekend with your mates or a solo escape, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley ticks all the boxes. Your girlfriend will be impressed by the breathtaking vineyard views and onsite Ubika Spa, your mates will prefer the 18-hole golf course (and Lovedale Brewery on-site) while the foodie within will settle for a signature steak and vintage Shiraz at the hotel’s premium restaurant, Redsalt. If you’re more than a duo at dinner, opt for the set menu and matched wines. Not only does it leave the pairing to the pros, but it’ll allow you to sit back and relax. Crowne Plaza will be hosting its sixth annual Hunter Valley Wine Festival on Saturday 30 June from 11am – 5pm. Presale tickets for the Festival are available for just $22 via the event website.
Estate Tuscany
If you’re after a stylish escape, with uninterrupted mountain views in the heart of Hunter, than Tuscany Wine Estate is for you. Set amongst 26 acres of beautiful countryside, guests can explore Estate Tuscany’s “front yard”, home to a wonderful range of Australian birds and wildlife (including kangaroos). Be sure to book the hotel’s stunning eatery, The Mill Restaurant for a fine dining experience like no other.
Chateau Elan
From horse riding and hot air ballooning to wine and cheese tasting tours, the award-winning Chateau Elan ensures their guests make the most of their stay in Hunter. Located on a secluded 100-acres of property, the golf course, restaurant, day spa and salon speak to the stress-free vibe ofthe venue. The on-site Legends Grill is known for their hearty meals and award-winning wine list, scoring Best Regional Wine List in the 2016 NSW Wine List Awards (which means you’ve gotta try a few, right?)
Try Tulloch wines 
With 122 years of winemaking experience, Tulloch is a must visit for any trip to the Hunter. Hosting interactive tastings with unique wine drinkers, in mind, “drink better” with a crisp white in front of the fireplace, or in the serene surrounds of Tulloch’s 1895 Members Lounge if you become part of the club. During the Hunter Valley Food and Wine Festival, visit Tulloch for their popular Viva Verdelho tasting. Pairing five varietals with accompanying bites, its the perfect way to experience the wine-growing region.
Visit the Hunter Valley Zoo
Why not extend the theme of sustainability and conservation, with a visit to the Hunter Valley Zoo to check out the Meerkats, Tamarins and Crocodiles in between.
Give hot air ballooning a go 
Take to the skies to witness the rolling hills and vines from above in the most peaceful, hangover friendly form of air travel – hot air ballooning. Balloon Safaris or Balloon Aloft will happily take you to the skies for a once in a lifetime experience that you won’t regret.

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