One of the smallest wineries in the Hunter Valley yet with a comfortable cellar door and excellent wines, Emma’s Cottage in Lovedale is a must-visit for any wine-lover.
Surely, this road we’re on—the Wilderness Road—was named ironically. Cutting across Lovedale, the road shows us satisfyingly straight rows of vines, elegant wedding venues, health retreats, boutique hotels, even the grand black fences and corrals of a horse stud.
But no wilderness.
On the contrary, close to the Pokolbin side of Lovedale, is Emma’s Cottage. This cellar door, set amongst its estate grapevines and tree-scattered lawns, is home to one of the smallest wineries in the Hunter.
Pretty and cosy, Emma’s Cottage is also at odds with the name of its main road, the curve of the little footbridge leading to the cellar door is the finishing touch to its welcoming entrance.
Check out our quick 20-second video of Emma’s Cottage:
Wine-Tasting Experience At Emma’s Cottage, Lovedale
Inside, we find the warmly-lit cottage, which has been a winery since the 1980s, also has a wide range of beautiful homewares, books and hats. One even suits me!
We perch on the comfortable stools along the timber bar, lined with bottles and set up for wine-tastings, and admire the colour palate that’s been so carefully curated here. Everywhere you look is a pretty vignette of warm timber and rattan, soft-finish ceramics and felt fabrics.
We could happily stay here all day, but we can’t.
As Meg, the estate’s lovely coordinator, explains, our booking is in the room next door. Of course, she offers us to stay put, but everything’s set up, so we dismount our stools and take up our new spot at a table.
Don’t worry; we’re ok.
Along with the tasting notes and glasses, in front of us is a well-stocked charcuterie plate with locally made produce. In fact, fast-forward to the end of our stay in the Hunter and we make our way to Binnorie Dairy to pick up a couple of pots of Duetto—a delicious combo of mascarpone and gorgonzola.
Meg takes us through the wines on the list.
Since 2022, Emma’s Cottage has been the home to Alter Wines—the ‘alter’ ego of Bimbadgen, who now owns the estate.
These wines—lively, bright, modern and approachable—are in contrast to Bimbadgen’s more traditional take on Hunter varietals.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to these wines. There’s a complexity and cleverness to them that is easy to appreciate. We start with Alter’s Blanc de Blancs and are immediately impressed. Light, balanced and endlessly enjoyable, it’s a sparkling that we’re keen to take home.
Along with the sparkling, the Chardonnay, and Rarebirds Rosé really stand out for us, though the Semillon and Shiraz also capture our attention.
It makes sense that we like these wines though. We’re fans of Bimbadgen’s head wine-maker, the talented Richard Done. And not only is Rich killing it at Bimbadgen and here at Emma’s Cottage with Alter Wines, his own winery—John Wallace five minutes from here—is another must-visit cellar door.
The Rest Of Emma’s Cottage
As we sit back and relax over the tasting (and what’s left of the cheese board), we take in the rest of the venue.
This room is set out with other tables and chairs, and with a similarly warm comforting colour palette to the bar and shop. A wall of windows and a sliding door look out to the veranda and the 12 hectares the winery sits on.
Behind us is another doorway that leads to a function room all set up with long tables ready for celebrations. This would make a wonderful wedding or birthday party venue.
What’s more, there’s accommodation here; apart from the main building there are several others nearby offering between two- and five-bedroom cottages.
We leave this sanctum of warm colours, soft furnishings, delicious wine and sumptuous cheeses, and head back to the Wilderness (Road) to continue our adventure in the Hunter. It’s one that Emma’s Cottage and Alter Wines have just made that much better. We’ll be back.