Vines, views and vows

Surrounded by fine wines, this lodge suits a family gathering, writes Louise Hall.

After choosing the Hunter Valley as the destination for their wedding, my sister and her fiance needed a large property to accommodate more than a dozen family and friends for the weekend-long event. The owners of IronBark Hill Vineyard have cleverly taken advantage of the lucrative wedding market and created a property that can host not only the ceremony and reception but also the wedding party and guests.

Built among 15 hectares of vines and about 400 metres from the cellar door and function centre is a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house with swimming pool and tennis court. With enough beds to sleep 15, our family and guests converge on the house the day before the wedding, while another couple park their campervan out the front.

Once settled, we walk through the vines to the cellar door to sample IronBark Hill's shiraz, chardonnay and semillon.

And then we ate The property has a large, fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher, oven and stove top. There are enough glasses, plates and cutlery to supply a small army. A couple of us prepare a meal of ratatouille, pasta and salads, while two more cook steak, kebabs and snags on the large barbecue in the semi-outdoor alcove adjacent to the kitchen.

This area has a square wooden table with seating for up to 20. After dinner, we bring out the cards, port and chocolate. The area is under cover and the screen doors keep the insects out, providing a comfortable spot to catch up and chill out before the wedding.

The deal maker The property is ideally placed for our wedding party to get dressed. The living area is large enough for a team of hair and make-up artists to work comfortably, while other guests still have plenty of room to enjoy lunch and a spot of reading before getting ready. The house has ducted airconditioning, but as we get frocked up, the mercury hits 37 degrees, and the system struggles to keep the temperature down. Thankfully, one of the bedrooms has its own split system so we retreat there from time to time.

Stepping out IronBark Hill is at the quieter Hermitage Road end of Pokolbin, and a few small wineries are within reasonable walking distance. The Pokolbin Art Gallery and Mistletoe Sculpture Garden at Mistletoe Vineyards is less than five minutes away by car.

The Hunter Valley Gardens complex, with its cafes, chocolate shop and gardens, is a few minutes further up the road. There are several fine-dining restaurants close by, such as Emerson's, Cracked Pepper and The Mill, as well as various cafes offering cheaper meals should you have spent all your money at the cellar door.

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VISITORS’ BOOK

IronBark Hill Lodge

Address 694 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin.

The verdict A large property with a homely feel.

Price $2000 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday night (minimum three-night stay); $1000 for Tuesday and Wednesday night (minimum two-night stay).

Bookings Phone 4964 4028 or email accom@ironbarkhill.com.au.

Getting there From Sydney, head north on the F3. Take the Cessnock exit and follow the wine-country signs. Turn left on to Broke Road and right on to Hermitage Road. The trip takes about two hours.

Perfect for A family reunion, wedding party or a weekend away with a group of friends.

Wheelchair access Yes.

While you're there Hire a bicycle from Grapemobile and visit nearby cellar doors, take a lesson in winemaking or cooking, or book a treatment at a day spa.

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