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Published September 16th 2012
Just 2 hours north of Sydney lies the Hunter Wine Country and the towns of Cessnock, gateway to the vineyards and its heart of Pokolbin. The Hunter Region is home to Australia's oldest wine producing area dotted by some of the country's famous wineries with vines first planted in the 1820s. Families like McWilliams, Tulloch and Drayton, and names like Murray Tyrrell, Audrey Wilkinson and Len Evans have become synonymous with the Hunter Valley, wine-making traditions and the cultivation of the iconic Semillon as well as Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Verdelho.
In addition to its popularity for quality wines, the Hunter Region host events like the Hunter Valley Harvest Festival from March to April featuring open air concerts, street parties, art exhibition, wine tasting and gourmet food. In October, there's Opera in the Vineyards and Jazz in the Vines festivals to keep visitors coming. Hunter Valley has also developed a reputation for quality regional produce, restaurants and accommodations. One of my favourite places to stay, wine and dine when visiting the region is the Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens, formerly known as the Tallawanta Lodge.
The Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens is located in the historic district of Pokolbin, nestled amongst the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges. This makes it an excellent location for accessing and some 120 vineyards spread across the Hunter Region. Adjacent to the hotel are 2 wine tasting cellars and a short walk will bring you to the doorstep of the popular Tempus Two Winery and concert venue, Brokenwood wines, Hope Estate Wines and McGuigan Wines.
Nestled on 550 acres, the hotel also forms part of the Hunter Valley Resort Gardens, which is one of the region's attractions. It features 10 theme gardens spread over 25 acres. The most popular among visitors is the Rose Garden with more than 8,000 roses on display and children particularly enjoy the fairy tale characters in the Storybook Garden. The Hunter Valley Resort Gardens also offers a shopping village with 20 retail outlets, the Harrigan's Irish Pub, Roche Wines and a beautiful Chapel for weddings. From September 2012 through to January 2013, the Gardens is hosting the Spring Festival of Flowers, blooming of 2 million roses and a million Christmas lights.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens with views of rolling vineyards against a hilly backdrop, Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens is a resort for a romantic getaway and wedding.
This 72-room property offers studio rooms and suites with private terraces or balconies and some with sunken tubs and an atrium above. Each room is appointed with modern furnishings the terraces or balconies allow guests to take in the beautiful valley views and magnificent gardens surrounding the property.
All rooms come equipped with the modern basics such as reverse cycle air conditioning, flat screen television, refrigerator, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, iron & ironing board and hairdryer.
Its spa, sauna, heated resort style swimming pool and children's pool, tennis courts and arcade game room with complimentary onsite parking makes it an ideal place for a family weekend in the country with all the creature comforts.
Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens feature a bar and a restaurant. The Lodge Bar with its open fireplace is an excellent place to read a book, enjoy a quiet conversation or sip pre-dinner drinks. The open fireplace is an ideal setting to cosy up with a mulled wine during a winter stay.
The Hunter Valley Steakhouse led by Executive Chef Jean Marc Pollet offers affordable dining in a provincial restaurant with its own old-fashioned open-brick fireplace reflective of a country resort restaurant. He has designed a menu that features the best quality local grain and pasture fed beef, from wagyu rump to scotch fillet to yearling rib-eye on the bone, to match the Hunter Shiraz.
Events and Meetings
Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens is one of the few properties equipped to fully support events and meetings in the Hunter Valley. Firstly all its public areas are equipped with wireless Internet access. Secondly it offers 8 specially equipped state-of-the-art conference rooms with high speed broadband. It is able to cater to 250 people for weddings, gala dinners, meetings and launches. Due to its location in Pokolbin and the Hunter Valley Gardens, the hotel is able to design special events, including a wine tasting among 100 year old vines, moonlit dinners in the Japanese Garden, tours of the Hunter Valley Gardens led by a horticulturists or even a fun-filled session of squashing grapes with feet.