Kinsale Cottage, Pokolbin review: A big vote of confidence

Read our writer's views on this property below

Shadowed by politicians at several turns, Elicia Murray has a corker of a break in a stylish Hunter Valley holiday house.

POLITICIANS and alcohol have long made entertaining bedfellows. Who could forget the vodka-fuelled dance moves of that crazy cat Boris Yeltsin or the legendary beer-swilling exploits of our own Hawkie?

My weekend escape to a newish cottage in the Hunter Valley comes at a time when barrels of ink are being spilled over speculation that Kevin Rudd is shaping up for another tilt at the top job. What would the former PM - who himself once grabbed headlines for a boozy night out - make of the existence of a Gillards Road deep in wine country?

"It's a dead end," my brother declares. He would say that.

When we make it to Kinsale Cottage after dark, a long driveway leads through a largely bare rural block to a handsome single-storey Federation-style house. It's hard to see much outside except stars splashed across the sky, prompting a frenzied whipping out of smartphones with apps to identify different constellations. Some say such technology is making us stupid but I could never pick out more than the Southern Cross or, on a good night, the saucepan, so I can hardly blame the phones.

Inside, the spacious cottage is furnished with country-style furniture for a simple, elegant look. Funky clusters of hanging lights are the only futuristic touch.

Two generous living areas - each with its own entertainment system, including DVD players and pay TV - can be partitioned off for privacy or opened up to maximise the space.

One of the couches converts to a double sofa bed. A 10-seater timber dining table sits within easy nattering distance of the kitchen, which is so well equipped, it even has a wine fridge containing a selection of the owners' favourite drops from nearby vineyards, along with instructions for the honesty system.

The main bedroom has a king-size bed with fresh white linen. Shutters on a bay window let in gentle shafts of light in the morning. There's an en suite with a toilet and shower, while the main bathroom, with tub and shower, is between the other two bedrooms, each with a queen-size bed.

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It takes daylight to appreciate the location's beauty. From the verandah, we gaze across vast green paddocks dotted with cows and horses. In the distance, the Brokenback ranges frame the landscape. It's a picture of serenity until the roar of a joy flight blasts us back to reality with some aerial circle-work.

The coffee snobs turn up their noses at the instant coffee provided, so I drive to the shopping village at Hunter Valley Gardens in Pokolbin to pick up espressos and almond croissants from Bliss Coffee Roasters, as well as milk and papers. Flour, sugar, cereals and condiments are supplied.

The first stop on our winery crawl is Petersons, where my brother has phoned ahead to reserve a table in the tasting area out the back. A frequent visitor, he insists we try the viognier - just the thing to go with spicy Asian dishes or garlicky pasta. It's so good, we order a few bottles from the charming cellar door stalwart, known as John the Pom, before continuing on our merry way. Scarborough and Brokenwood prove the day's other highlights.

Eventually it's time for a long late lunch on the balcony at Esca Bimbadgen. Afterwards, all we can do is head back to the cottage and collapse into food comas. By early evening, we're regretting our decision to book a table for dinner at Il Cacciatore. Apologising sheepishly for our lack of appetite, we pick over entrees and desserts, vowing to return on empty stomachs. On our final day, there's time for one last winery stop before heading back to Sydney.

Even here, it seems, we can't escape politicians. My favourite at Tulloch is the 2010 Julia Semillon. I can't help but notice it's a limited release. Still, the PM can take heart from a review of the 2011 release: "A charming wine with a big future."

Trip notes

Where Kinsale Cottage is at 551 De Beyers Road in Pokolbin. stayz.com.au.

Getting there Take the F3 to Cessnock, turn left at the end of Vincent Street, right into Allandale Road, follow to Wine Country Road, left into Broke Road, left onto McDonalds Road, left to De Beyers Road. Kinsale Cottage is about 300 metres past Cypress Lakes Resort.

How much $240 a couple on weekends, minimum two couples and two-night stay. Additional couples $240 each, minimum two-night stay. Midweek stays are $180 a couple.

Style statement Country chic without being twee.

Perfect for A getaway in the heart of wine country.

Don't forget To take a trip to Binnorie Dairy. The tasting portions are minuscule but the marinated feta is incredible. See binnorie.com.au.

Shame about The lack of a coffee machine.

Kudos Solar panels that feed back into the grid.

Take the kids Absolutely. There are 45 hectares to tear around, as well as plenty of board games and an excellent cubby house.