Exploring Palmers Lane
There’s plenty of hidden gems in the Hunter. But this is a unique, immersive experience where nature, tradition, exceptional winemaking and the full flavours of local produce feature along an eco-wine trail you can explore by foot, bike or car.
Palmers Lane is smack in the heart of Hunter wine country, at the centre of all the action – yet in a strikingly peaceful, serene version along a treelined avenue, with picturesque vineyards and charming cellar doors that serve as a true expression of their owners’ individuality and their often experimental approach to winemaking.
Start exploring just west of the crossing of Palmers Lane and McDonalds Road. Rent a bike at GRAPE MOBILE BIKE HIRE and get ready to indulge. On a stretch of road, less than two kms long, lies a microcosm of everything that makes the Hunter a must-visit destination for wine lovers and foodies alike.
First stop – HORNER WINES, a rustic cellar door with a cool vibe where Ash and Lauren Horner showcase their love and skill for small batch, organic wines, for interesting blends and unusual varietals. Case and point their 2022 Shiraz Marsanne, featuring a blend of the Hunter’s classic red varietal with a small portion of white Marsanne grapes for that extra bit of flavour, complexity and texture. The wine has just taken out trophies for Best Organic Wine in NSW and Best Red Wine Blend in NSW at the 2023 NSW Wine Awards.
“We love to work with unusual varietals,” said Lauren, citing their 2022 Reserve Picpoul (think crisp, bright and refreshing) with fruit from the Central Ranges and 2022 Reserve Viognier, a medium bodied white with grapes from the Upper Hunter’s Two Rivers vineyard. To have a chat with the maker, get a whiff of ferments and oak barrels, and for a sip or two of the Hunter’s first ever Pineau, a little-known sibling to cognac, you can’t go past Horner Wines.
Hit the pedals and you’ll be at JOHN WALLACE WINES well before you are able to break a sweat. This is a cellar door with bright, fresh interiors, and hints of the ocean – a reference to the winemakers love of surfing.
Richard Done has worked for several high-profile Hunter wine brands including Bimbadgen, Scarborough or Thomas Wines before deciding to open his own label together with his partner Beth. He skilfully crafts his wines, producing easy-to-drink, delightful wines, often well suited for early drinking.He hopes to offer wine lovers a renewed romanticism, to make wine relevant and enjoyable again so it may resonate across generations.It’s a sentiment he also expressed by naming his wine label after his grandfathers John and Wallace.
Try their Juju, a nouveau-style Shiraz, ‘The Rowdy Bunch’ Pinot Gris, an ode to their winery boys, and don’t miss out on their Sparkling Rose. Because nothing says summer like a sip of pink bubbles!
Time for a bite? Drop into KAWUL RESTAURANT on CALAIS ESTATE and savour a menu designed to share, drawing upon local native produce to create dishes that pay delicious homage to indigenous heritage and the Wonnarua region.
To seamlessly move from day to night, the recently opened Kawul Cocktail bar is the perfect pick. Expect a unique range of edgy cocktails featuring native flavours and estate-grown herbs.
Take home some of those tantalising flavours at nearby COME WHAT MAY HOMEWARES, where you will find local jams and jellies, relishes and vinegars, cookies and chocolates along with handmade, vintage homewares and gifts.
To satisfy your inner artist, visit WATERSHED GALLERY, just around the corner on McDonalds Road. Be amazed by an ever-changing collection of paintings and sculptures, created by talented professional artists, both from the Hunter and beyond. Owners Lyn and Ron Hammond are committed to presenting a diverse range of styles and sizes, ranging from spectacular, multi- coloured abstracts to ultra realistic pieces.
Explore Palmers Lane
Whether you’d like to take to the skies in a hot air balloon or helicopter, test your horse-riding skills, swing the clubs (choose between aqua, putt putt or the real thing) or stay firmly on the grounds of magnificent Hunter Valley Gardens – this little known pocket of the Valley has it all.
After a fun-packed, delightful day, PALMER’S LANE ESTATE’S private and secluded one to six-bedroom lodges are a perfect place to spend the night. Take a refreshing dip in the pool or cook up a storm in the fully equipped kitchen or on the outdoor barbecue. It’s a great place for group celebrations too. Make sure to ask for their packages for birthdays, hen’s and buck’s weekends and proposals.
The Estate is set within 750 metres of five cellar doors, so you won’t even need a designated driver.
More stories in the Summer Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.