Vegan and Organic Options in the Hunter Valley
What could be better than delicious wine that’s good for the planet too? The Hunter Valley’s reputation for producing world-renowned labels isn’t a secret. What you may not know, is that the region is also home to forward-thinking winemakers using sustainable farming practices and creating vegan-friendly drops for your sipping pleasure.
Two different, natural processes contribute to many of the Hunter region’s healthy vines. Organic winegrowing does away with the use of synthetic chemicals like pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Also organic, biodynamic vineyards are self-sustaining and processes revolve around the earth’s natural rhythms. From pruning to composting and harvesting, the stars and the moon lead the way towards award-winning results.
Joining the organic party are a range of local restaurants dishing up farm-to-fork cuisine and vegan treats to tantalise your taste buds. So, where can you sample all this natural deliciousness? Hop on board a wine tour for a mouthwatering ride through the region’s vegan, vegetarian and organic produce.
Luscious Shiraz and sassy Semillon are just two of the options on Tamburlaine’s preservative-free wine list. Along with a group of friends, chief winemaker, Mark Davidson, bought the winery in 1985, though it was first established in 1966. Now, the Pokolbin establishment is among the country’s largest organic wine producers, not to mention one of the most popular.
A three-year conversion period led to gaining Australian certified organic status. Plus, an Environment Management System includes energy-saving strategies, solid-waste management and water recycling. You can visit the lovely cellar door to take a look behind the scenes and, of course, start the tasting fun! Refresh your palate with the strawberry and raspberry fizz of Scarlett Bubbles, sip Sweet Phoebe with your cheese platter and top it all off with Reserve Muscat.
You’ll step into a slice of France with a visit to Krinklewood. The boutique vineyard follows the natural cycle of the season to ripen the fruit, with the aim to ensure the produce takes on the distinctive taste of its homeland. Along with the wine, the entire family farm is certified biodynamic and it’s set within its own micro-climate at the foot of the Brokenback Mountains.
Provencal gardens complete with tinkling fountains, urns and fabulous birdlife greet you at the cellar door in the Broke Fordwich valley. Tuck into a platter of organic cheeses, olives, chutney, apricots and crackers to go with your tastings. Try the citrusy Basket Press Chardonnay and the Verdelho, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay blend, called Wild White.
Ascella Organic Wine
Barb and Geoff Brown lead the team at Ascella, with a commitment to offering the purest wine available in the world. A focus on health and wellbeing, along with helping people avoid those wine-induced headaches, means no harmful herbicides, fungicides or pesticides are used on the land here. The result is low-sulphur wine that contains only natural preservatives.
To make the most of sampling award-winning wines, you might like to stay onsite in the Hunter Riverpines Cottage, with kangaroos for company outside your door. Jack’s BBQ in the Orchard is there too, so take a picnic blanket and settle in for sweeping views with your bottle of Vintage White or Reserve Shiraz.
Vegan-friendly wine lists
The ‘fining’ process that takes place during winemaking often uses agents that include animal-derived products, like egg albumen and gelatin. Organic, plant-based agents are a fantastic alternative and you’ll find plenty of vegan-friendly wine on Hunter Valley menus. All of the wines at Tamburlaine and Macquariedale are created with alternative fining agents and, therefore, good to go for vegan diets.
Visit the Vault at picturesque Pepper Tree Wines to sample (and fill the boot with) White Field Blend, Shiraz Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris – which all happen to be preservative-free too. Other vineyards with vegan-friendly options include Becker Wines, Tyrrell’s, De Bortoli, Scarborough Wine Co, Hungerford Hill and Briar Ridge. Make sure you check the menus because, these days, chances are you’ll find vegan treats.
Organic, vegan and vegetarian food on the menu
Many of the Hunter Valley’s top-notch restaurants focus on organic, locally-sourced produce to use in the creation of delectable dishes. Furthermore, you’ll often find yourself eating fresh herbs, fruits and veggies straight from the establishment’s garden. Plus, most menus offer vegetarian and vegan options to go with your choice of Hunter wines.
Native bush spices and organic local produce contribute to the largely vegan menu at Kawul. Sit on the deck to enjoy views of the Pokolbin Ranges while you savour a breakfast of sweet potato zucchini rosti with chickpeas, tomato chutney, avocado and salsa verde. Lunch and dinner options include exotic plates like portobello mushroom shepherd’s pie with wattle seed, sauteed broccolini and mint peas. An ‘all day’ kids menu keeps the little ones smiling, and the dessert menu will keep you smiling with foodie flashbacks for days to come.
Sick of only having one or two vegetarian dishes to choose from on most menus? EXP. Restaurant offers a full vegetarian menu to devour, in an atmospheric dining room filled with hand-crafted furniture. Back to those choices though! For starters, nibble on Mexican sour cucumbers with finger lime and saltbush oil. Move onto black garlic risotto and peach sorbet almond ice cream to finish. Actually, you can’t finish with dessert, because there’s a range of dessert wines on the list too.
For those times when all you can think about is a big breakfast to fuel up for a big day ahead, look no further than the Vego Breakfast Board at Cafe Enzo. Poached eggs, asparagus, feta, roast cherry tomatoes and pistachio red pesto is served up with sourdough, to keep you going all day. It could take you a while to devour, so it’s lucky you’ll do so in a lovely courtyard on the Tuscan-inspired grounds of Peppers Creek Village.
Smelly Cheese Shop
It’s a must to include the Smelly Cheese Shop on your Hunter Valley Wine tour, for vegan cheese treats. You’ll find Damona vegan pepperjack, American cheddar, smoked mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, brie and extra tasty styles, just for starters. Take your cheeses with you – to go with your sunset drinks on the veranda – or dine in with a veggie burger.
How about some sustainable accommodation to go with your organic wine and farm-to-fork veggies? Yep, you can order that too.
H Boutique Hotel
Set on the backdrop of the Brokenback Ranges, H Boutique Hotel offers stylish one and two-bedroom villas, along with a homestead for larger groups. For the environment, the hotel is self-sufficient, with 100% of its power generated by solar, eco-friendly septic systems and the motto that every small change makes a big difference in the world.
Cottages on Lovedale
If you’re looking for serene privacy on 25 acres of lush countryside, three self-contained cottages await in stunning Lovedale. A four-star eco-friendly rating comes from solar power, green waste recycling, instantaneous hot water heating, biodegradable toiletries, tank water and an Enviro Cycle waste management system.
Donnybrook Eco Retreat
Located on a site that’s totally off the grid, the luxury tents at Donnybrook give you the glamping experience surrounded by 100 acres, a duck-filled dam and endless views. All water and power is collected onsite and environmentally friendly materials add to a luxury experience in nature. You’ll enjoy hot showers in your ensuite, a self-catering kitchen, BBQ facilities and delicious, fresh farm supplies for breakfasts.
When you want to make the most of the Hunter’s incredible organic, vegetarian and vegan options, we’ll design a tailor-made private wine tour to suit your needs. Don’t forget that many of the wineries and restaurants throughout the region offer vegan and vegetarian alternatives when asked, even if you can’t see them on the menu. Sustainable sipping and dining is on the rise, and here to stay, in the Hunter Valley. You can visit some of these delicious vegan friendly and organic restaurants on our hunter valley private tours which you can check out here.