We think the Hunter Valley is one of the best destinations in the world. The community, the wine, the weather – it’s a truly wonderful place to live. And though the Hunter is most famous for its wine, particularly semillon, there are plenty of other things to do during a visit besides hitting the wineries. The next time you pay a visit to De Iuliis, be sure to check out some of the other local experiences on offer, whether it’s catching a hot air balloon at sunrise, discovering a few of the local trails or treating yourself to a relaxing spa experience. Here are a few of our favourites.
Sunrise in the Hunter Valley is an unforgettable moment. Though you’ll catch us tending to the vines most mornings, there’s no doubt the best way to greet a new day in the Hunter is from the air. The hot air balloons are an iconic sight in the Hunter Valley and have been rising high above the vineyards for almost forty years, with daily departures from various locations including Pokolbin. You’ll enjoy views of the entire wine region, with balloon flights lasting approximately one hour and including a gourmet breakfast after landing.
2. Join the Great North Walk at Mount Bright
Here in the Hunter, we’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by some wonderful landscapes with plenty of trails for mountain bikers, runners and hikers. The Great North Walk from Millfield to Pokolbin (via Bimbadeen and Mount Bright) is a fantastic way to experience nature and get some exercise in before heading to the Hunter Valley wineries including De Iuliis. The walk, which follows roads, fire trails and single track, can be commenced at Millfield or Bimbadeen, depending on your fitness and experience level, and finishes in the heart of Pokolbin. Expect a quiet day out featuring excellent views and a well-deserved wine at the end.
3. Have a session at The Mighty Hunter Valley
Pub grub, craft beer and a wine list featuring De Iuliis – what more could you ask for? The Mighty Hunter Valley recently took over the iconic Potters Hotel in nearby Nulkaba, so if you’re looking to spend a relaxed, low-key afternoon in the Hunter, look no further. The kitchen is headed up by Sean Townsend, formerly a chef at the two-hatted Muse Restaurant, with an emphasis on casual, family-friendly dining using fresh, local ingredients. Pair these with an extensive wine list, craft beer and spirit flights, and you’ve got a top-notch combination that celebrates all things Hunter Valley.
4. Indulge in a luxury spa treatment
There’s no shortage of ways to treat yourself in the Hunter Valley. If you need a little break from food and wine, both Chateau Elan and the Elysia Wellness Retreat offer facials, massages and a bunch of other treatments to help you relax and rejuvenate. We’re yet to encounter a problem that can’t be fixed with a glass of Hunter semillon, but if there’s a robe on offer and even the slightest chance of hearing Enya, we’re willing to give anything a go. So go on, you deserve it.
5. Appreciate Australian artists at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery
Set in a beautiful building in the town of Maitland, the MRAG has a wonderful collection of works done by artists both local and from around the country. The exhibitions are varied, covering everything from photography to landscape paintings to unseen pieces by famous Aussie artist Ken Done. The gallery makes for an excellent halfway point between Newcastle and the wineries in Pokolbin, with plenty of exhibitions and activities to keep the kids entertained.
Are you ready to explore the Hunter Valley yet? Remember, our Winemakers House makes an excellent base to discover the region, so be sure to check if it’s available when planning your trip. It sleeps seven, is just 30 metres from our cellar door and all bookings will receive a premium wine tasting at De Iuliis for free. Now, how’s that for Hunter hospitality?