Bluemetal Vineyard, Berrima review: In the family bosom

Read our writer's views on this property below

Lenny Ann Low relives warm childhood memories in a cottage in Berrima.

We're hurtling along the motorway on a Friday night when I check on my parents' location.

"The fire is on, classical music is playing, wine, crackers and snacky bits are ready and steak is for dinner when you get here," my father replies by text message.

Sigh. It's like Jeeves is waiting for us in the wintry southern highlands. An hour later we've found Bluemetal Vineyard's road signage and roll up beside its pretty white holiday cottage, edged by maple and ash trees and a short walk from the cellar door.

The front door opens to the promised scene - crackling wood fire, robust snacks, wine ready to pour - in a warm and elegantly decorated L-shaped living and dining area. Hanging hurricane lamps, along with floor and table lamps, light the space. A three-seater couch and two armchairs, arranged around a kilim, face the fire and a flat-screen TV on a cabinet filled with DVDs. A large painting of a cow overlooks the couch.

There are three bedrooms, two leading off a hallway adjacent to the living and dining area. The third is beside the kitchen, handy for midnight snacks but possibly too close if the occupants are attempting a sleep-in and the rest of the house is brewing coffee and rummaging in cupboards.

Each is a double bedroom, kitted out in taupe and pale ash tones with French Provencal-style chairs, drawers and bedside tables. There are fur throws on the beds, a bounty of pillows, pretty bedside lamps and old-fashioned mounted wall hooks for scarves, hats and bags. One bed has a wrought-iron bedstead reminiscent of a peacock's spread tail.

Selflessly, the parents have given us the largest bedroom. With a chandelier, a large Venetian mirror, a Louis XV-style padded chair and wide views across the vineyard, it's both grand and cosy.

The bathroom, off the hallway, is tiled in an extraordinary red and has a bath and shower. The towels are big and thick and the toiletries are based on organic manuka honey.

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The kitchen, stocked extensively with cookware, utensils, fine crockery and glassware, is a big drawcard for continuing the home cooking. Lovely wooden benchtops frame the sink and good coffee, tea and hot chocolate are supplied with olive oil and other condiments.

Dinner is eaten at an elegantly weathered table, framed by candles, vases of lilies and a wooden horse sculpture. When cutlery is lowered, and in the spirit of the silent countryside beyond the curtained windows, we retire almost immediately to bed.

The next morning the grass outside is a carpet of white frost. Mist hovers in Bluemetal's grapevines and a layer of ice coats the cars' windscreens. We've slept through the night - a miracle after years of being poked awake by a tubby cat - but already the olds are up, whisking eggs and frying bacon, with coffee already brewed.

The parents' brilliance is beginning to blow my mind.

A trip into Berrima starts with a perusal of Berkelouw Books in its big wooden barn, just out of town. Then it's the equally immense Peppergreen Antiques and Collectables, where I marvel at vintage French linen, hand-sewn quilts and spools of embroidered ribbon. The parents escape and my beloved starts pawing at the roof-high cupboards in bored desperation but I continue stoically, buying pale-green Beryl dinner plates by Woods Ware of England.

After window-shopping on Bowral's increasingly modish Bong Bong Street, we stock up on food supplies and return to the cottage.

My mother, a wine lover, leads an expedition to Bluemetal's cellar door, where there is also a cafe serving a local-produce lunch along with excellent tarts, gourmet platters, pies and jams and free-trade Sacred Grounds espresso coffee. She's already been won over by Bluemetal's Fume Blanc, so another bottle is bought.

The cafe has special food-and-wine events, including poetry readings and, over the weekend, the occasional minibus is sighted delivering groups to the cellar door.

It's too cold to sit at the big table beneath a wisteria-covered trellis on the cottage's back deck, so home-made shepherd's pie is eaten at the sun-dappled dining table.

The hallway's bookshelf has plenty to read but we choose Scrabble from a pile of board games including chess, draughts and Squatter. It's easy to do nothing at the cottage. Lulled by the combustion wood stove, the deep armchairs and the woollen knee rugs laid on each chair's back, we morph into a knitting, book-reading and dozing group as the sun sinks. The parents' magnificent care shows no sign of abating, so I muscle into the kitchen to help cook a beef casserole.

Their breakfast will definitely be served in bed.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITOR'S BOOK

Address Bluemetal Vineyard, 112 Compton Park Road, Berrima.

The verdict Charming country retreat with European touches.

Price $300 a night on weekends, $200 a night Monday-Thursday. Minimum two-night booking.

Bookings Phone 4877 1877, see www.bluemetalvineyard.com.

Getting there About 90 minutes' drive from Sydney. Take the South Western Freeway to the Hume Highway, exit on to the Old Hume Highway, turn right at Greenhills Road and left at Compton Park Road.

Perfect for Groups of wine-loving friends, couples and families with older children.

While you're there Taste wines and use the giant outdoor chess set at Bluemetal's cellar door. Visit Berrima's village shops, including The Little Hand-Stirred Jam Shop and the Peppergreen Antiques & Collectibles for country-inspired goods.