A boutique vineyard in the less-frequented Broke Fordwich sub-region of the Hunter Valley with two intriguingly different accommodation options: a a spacious six-bedroom brick country house,, The Residence, that sleeps 12, and a cosy two-bedroom former milking shed, The Cottage, that sleeps four. Accessed via a long, vine-flanked gravel driveway, the 20-hectare estate is 25 kilometres west of the Hunter's busy tourist centre of Pokolbin and a two-hour drive north of Sydney. The pros? It's tranquil and beguilingly scenic, with sweeping views of the dramatic Broken Back Range and Yellow Rock sandstone escarpment. The cons? You're a 20-minute drive from many of the Hunter's most popular wineries and restaurants.
With its expansive entertaining areas, wraparound verandah and generous outdoor space, the six-bedroom, three-bathroom Residence is ideal for an extended family or a group of friends. There's table tennis, garden chess and an outdoor pool to keep the kids amused, while the adults can potter in the well-equipped kitchen, tinkle on the electric piano or take refuge in the library with a glass of wine. The two-bedroom timber Cottage is a more romantic affair with a Jetmaster gas fire in the lounge and a combined kitchenette and dining room. Both properties have been tastefully furnished with tiled and timber flooring, comfy sofas and elegant French-provincial style decoration.
Only two of The Residence's six bedrooms have ensuites (so grab one quick) whereas both of The Cottage's bedrooms have adjoining bathrooms with underfloor heating (the master also has a lovely period bathtub). All the rooms have luxurious king or queen-size beds and many offer captivating vistas of the surrounding vineyards and foothills.
FOOD + DRINK
Budding MasterChefs will want to show off their talents in The Residence's newly refurbished kitchen, which features a 90-centimetre Ilve cooktop and a fancy Smeg oven. For the rest of us, there is the option to have dinner prepared onsite by a local caterer, who will create a bespoke menu featuring local produce paired with wines from Tinonee's estate-grown 1813 label. Every stay includes a complimentary wine tasting in the vineyard's stylish cellar door, where you can sample an impressive range of single vineyard drops, from a summery moscato with notes of Turkish delight to the rich, barrel-aged Governor shiraz.
OUT + ABOUT
Be sure to check out some of Broke Fordwich's other vineyards, including Winmark for award-winning chardonnays and a striking collection of outdoor sculptures, Whispering Brook for lesser-known Portuguese varietals such as touriga nacional, and Running Horse, which serves aged wines in a cellar door fashioned from a shipping container. Also nearby is one of the Hunter's best restaurants, Margan, which showcases its sustainably farmed seasonal produce via a spectacular five-course tasting menu.
The elegant country retreat of the friend you wish you knew. A versatile setup that can accommodate everything from a romantic getaway for two through to an exclusive estate-wide gathering for a group of 16.
1273 Milbrodale Road, Broke, NSW 2330. Rates start at $500 a night for The Cottage, $3000 a night for The Residence. Both have a two-night minimum stay. Phone 0488 127 321. See tinoneevineyardestate.com.au
Watching kangaroos bound through the vineyards at dusk.
The faint-inducing cost of a taxi to and from Pokolbin (circa $70 each way).
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE
Rob McFarland was a guest of Destination NSW (visitnsw.com) and Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association (winecountry.com.au).