Perfect romantic long weekend in the Hunter Valley

Pokolbin’s rolling hills striped with grapevines and dotted with some of Australia’s best wineries is the perfect backdrop to a romantic getaway in the Hunter Valley. But this three-night four-day itinerary is how to really ramp up the romance.

Hunter Valley romantic weekend

Working with our friends at Bimbadgen, we’ve put together an amazing experience that gives you so many of the best bits of the Hunter Valley and none of the stress of organising it.

Christina and I have been visiting the Hunter and its amazing vineyards for years and we’re still discovering things about it. There always seems to be a new winery to find—or one that’s somehow managed to evade our radar.

New accommodation options also find us excited about our next trip to NSW’s best wine region and, of course, there are always new places to eat, and things to see and do here.

Check out our quick video of our time at Lane Retreat and Bimbadgen in the Hunter Valley:

The Most Romantic Long Weekend In The Hunter Valley

The easy two-hour drive from Sydney up to the Hunter is always a pleasure, and this time is no different.

Christina and I feel the weight of life’s stresses fall from our shoulders as we see the landscape change from busy streets and high-rises to fields and trees, and the Broken Back Mountain Range grow taller on the horizon.

Day 1:

Where to stay in the Hunter Valley - Lane Retreat Bimbadgen - Palmer Street vines Where to stay in the Hunter Valley for a romantic weekend - Lane Retreat, Bimbadgen Where to stay in the Hunter Valley - Lane Retreat Bimbadgen - Christina on veranda

Our retreat, looking sleek yet cosy on the sweeping property on Palmers Lane, is ready for us to check in. Overlooking the very vines that go into some of Bimbadgen’s wines, the retreat’s balcony promises to be a fine place to relax with a sundowner together.

Inside, the huge comfy bed and enormous bathroom with a twin shower, and we pop the cork on the bottle of chilled Bimbadgen sparkling that’s waiting for us.

Read our full review of The Lane Retreat here!

In-room treatment from Hunter Valley Mobile Massage

Where to stay in the Hunter Valley - Lane Retreat Bimbadgen - couples massage with Hunter Valley Mobile Massage Co Where to stay in the Hunter Valley - Lane Retreat Bimbadgen - couples massage with Hunter Valley Mobile Massage Co

Before long there’s a knock on the door and the next treat for our stay arrives: Yvie and Millie from the Hunter Valley Mobile Massage Company. They’re here to pamper us with an hour-long relaxing rub-down, soothing tired muscles and stretching us out after our drive.

There’s plenty of room in the retreat for their two fold-out tables and soon Christina and I are luxuriating under the clever gentle hands of our masseuses.

Yvie and Millie are careful to ask us the kind of massage we’d like and the pressure we prefer. The idea for today is relaxation, though Yvie is also trained as a sports therapy techniques too.

An hour later, feeling like clouds are beneath our feet, we look about us and consider dinner options.

Wood-fire pizza at Bimbadgen

Things to do in the Hunter Valley - pizza at Bimbadgen

It’s a quick five-minute drive to Bimbadgen from the Lane Retreat. Down in the Tuscan-inspired courtyard of the winery, we find a table and enjoy superb wood-fired pizzas from the giant clay oven, one of the five reasons to visit this iconic winery that we’ve laid out here.

My pepperoni pizza is rich and generously topped, and the crust is crunchy yet soft—perfectly cooked. Christina’s pork and fennel pizza, finished with rocket leaves, is succulent and tasty too, caramelised onion and grilled capsicum bringing an extra sweetness to this excellent pizza.

This is a popular venue, especially during the weekend when the venue has live music playing, so booking a table is a good idea. You can also come here for lunch and enjoy the views out over the grape vines and see the winery and distillery in action.

We make our way back to the romantic seclusion of our retreat for a blissful night’s sleep.

Day 2:

Where to stay in the Hunter Valley - Lane Retreat Bimbadgen - breakfast

This morning we enjoy the breakfast provisions that staff from the retreat’s store, The Pantry, left us last night at turn-down: crunchy granola and creamy yoghurt, and a delicious breakfast quiche.

There’s also fresh juice in the fridge and a pod machine for coffee, though The Pantry up the lane does excellent barista coffees too.

Picnic by the vines

Where to stay in the Hunter Valley - Lane Retreat Bimbadgen - picnic amongst the vines

After a morning of exploring around the Hunter Valley, we’re back at The Lane Retreat for lunch: a picnic provided by Bimbadgen, including roast chicken, olives, fresh fruit and even a blanket and a bottle of bubbles!

At first we consider having our picnic by the pool, an oasis-like centre point with Palm Springs vibes, but instead we opt for a little spot near our retreat next to the vines of Palmers Lane vineyard.

Bimbadgen Wine Tasting Experience

Hunter Valley wineries to visit - Bimbadgen Things to do in the Hunter Valley - wine tasting at Bimbadgen

After our lunch, we’re back at Bimbadgen for a wine tasting. We sit looking out over the vineyard from the beautiful cellar door and are lead through the Signature Tasting Experience featuring eight of Bimbadgen’s best wines.

We also have the opportunity to taste the gin and vodka from their distillery Night Merchant, which is also made on site.

Making our way back to our retreat, we promise ourselves a light dinner—we still have food from the generous picnic—an early night. Tomorrow begins at 3.30am!

Day 3:

Hot air ballooning with Beyond Ballooning

Things to do in the Hunter Valley - Beyond Ballooning romantic hot air balloon ride - Jim and Christina Things to do in the Hunter Valley - Beyond Ballooning romantic hot air balloon ride

It’s still dark when our alarm goes off. A quick shower and a shot from the coffee machine, and we’re leaving Palmers Lane for Rydges Resort Hunter Valley 10 minutes down the road. We check in then climb aboard minibuses to our launch site for the most amazing experience: a hot air balloon ride over the Hunter Valley.

Rising up above the trees and gliding silently through the dawn air, we see the sun gleam its first light over the Broken Back Range, turning the rows of vines golden, highlighting kangaroos bouncing through fields and creating a rainbow high in the clouds next to us.

Back on the ground, we head back to the Rydges for breakfast and even a cheeky glass of Bimbadgen sparkling.

Check out our full review of our time in the sky with Beyond Ballooning here!

Wine-Tasting Experience—Alter Wines at Emma’s Cottage

Things to do in the Hunter Valley - wine tasting at Emma's Cottage - Jim and Christina

Alter Wines, as in Bimbadgen’s ‘alter-ego’, a new to the Bimbadgen family. Set down a pretty lane off Wilderness Drive in Lovedale, Emma’s Cottage is a beautiful spot. As well as its cellar door bar and seating, this winery also has a lovely boutique to shop in.

It’s the perfect lunch spot for us as we enjoy a tasting of their wine range along with a generous cheese and charcuterie board.

Our review of Emma’s Cottage and Alter Wines is here!

Dinner at Esca Restaurant

Where to eat in the Hunter Valley - Esca Bimbadgen

This evening is the crowning event we’ve been looking forward to the most: dinner at Esca, one of the most admired restaurants in the region and the pride of Bimbadgen.

Although there is an a la cart menu, we’re treated to a six-course adventure through not only some of Esca’s best dishes, but also Bimbadgen’s finest wines.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say this menu is superb. From the house-made butter, focaccia and Shiraz-tinged pink salt to the late-harvest Semillon that’s paired with Esca’s summer stone fruits, brown butter yoghurt and spiced hazelnut dessert, it’s all exquisite.

But if you want a few spoilers, here’s our review of our Signature Experience at Esca!

Day 4:

Where to stay in the Hunter Valley - Lane Retreat Bimbadgen - pool

We wake up expectedly late this morning after such a big day yesterday. But that’s ok. We don’t have to check out until 11am, which gives us time to enjoy our retreat in the morning light and even have a last dip in the pool before we leave.

Our drive back to Sydney is a reluctant one, seeing the vineyards and mountains recede behind us, swapping them once again for the streets and towers of the busy city. But these days in the Hunter Valley will stay with us forever.

We worked in collaboration with Bimbadgen and other partners to bring you this itinerary, but our experiences and opinions remain our own.

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