Just over two hours drive from Sydney, it’s quick and easy to head to the Hunter Valley in NSW, whether just for the day or for a weekend. But don’t think that your dog needs to miss out on the fun. Here’s lots of tips on everything from dog-friendly wineries to dog-friendly accommodation, so that everyone can enjoy a getaway to the Hunter Valley.
Dog-Friendly Wineries in the Hunter Valley
Many of the cellar doors dotted around the Hunter Valley welcome your dog to join you, whether for indoor or just outdoor wine tasting depending on the venue.
During our latest visit to the Hunter Valley we had a delightful wine tasting experience at Tintilla Estate with our dog. With their cellar door reminiscent of a Tuscan villa, right down to the beautiful sunshine during our visit, the north-facing outdoor tables are a beautiful option on sunny days. There’s also a semi-enclosed space where dogs are welcome when the weather isn’t so cooperative.
It’s a must to book a tasting at Tintilla, especially on weekends. I highly recommend choosing a VIP tasting that also includes a selection of their olive products and local cheeses.
Another delightfully pet-friendly cellar door to visit in the Hunter Valley is Briar Ridge Vineyard in Mount View. Open daily, enjoy a tasting along with your pup outside on the wine deck, where there’s a pooch hydration station. Also enquire about ordering a Pooch Platter of treats to keep them occupied, or they might be able to meet the resident wine dogs.
Another popular winery amongst discerning pooches is Pepper Tree Wines in Pokolbin. With a dog-friendly cellar door open 7 days a week, bookings are essential, with multiple wine tasting experiences able to be booked. Previously, their annual Pooch Picnic was a big hit, but the event hasn’t run the last few years.
Some of the other pet-friendly wineries in Pokolbin include Hanging Tree Wines (with visiting dogs welcome to play with their wine dogs, Vodka, Muscat and Bundy) and Hungerford Hill Wines (dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating area, double check about inside the cellar door).
When visiting cellar doors in the Hunter, make sure you book ahead, especially on the busy weekends, or at least call ahead to check. Most wineries also charge a tasting fee, typically $5 or $10 per person.
Dog-Friendly Winery Tours in the Hunter Valley
There are many advantages to taking a winery tour with your dog, from having someone else provide the transport for the day, to not needing to double check the rules for dogs at each winery. Luckily then there are a couple of dog-friendly wine tour options in the Hunter Valley.
Grape to Glass specialises in private boutique wine tours, with dogs warmly welcomed by tour guide Vanessa on Signature Tours. On the tour you’ll visit the truly pet-friendly locations in the Hunter Valley. Dog seat belt restraints, bowls, leads and handmade treats are provided, along with opportunities for walks during the day.
Alternatively, contact Vino Paw Tours. Their all-inclusive pet-friendly packages for the Hunter Valley include two nights accommodation at Vacy Hunter Valley Lodge, a three-course dinner and of course a dog-friendly wine tour. The mini-van is fitted with dog seat belt restraints and you’ll only visit wineries that allow pets everywhere that you’re permitted.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in the Hunter Valley
There’s plenty of pet-friendly accommodation options in the Hunter Valley, whether you’re after a cottage for your family, or a luxury hotel room.
Hunter Valley Pet-Friendly Hotels
One of the best pet-friendly options is the Voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley. There are two pet-friendly rooms available (available by booking directly), complete with private courtyards. Note that dogs are restricted to a maximum weight of 20kg, plus there is a pet fee of $100 per night, with pups pampered in return with their own bed, bowl and home-made treats.
Your dog is welcome to join you at Epoch Bar Pizzeria, as well as all courtyards, balconies and on picnics around the grounds. I’ve stayed at the property multiple times back when it was a Sebel hotel, and loved the expansive gardens and grounds, perfect for walks with your pup.
Another pet-friendly resort in the Hunter Valley is Estate Tuscany. Five rooms have been designated as pet-friendly, with a $30 fee per night applying. There’s extensive grounds for your dog to explore on a lead, plus a designated pet-friendly table outside their onsite restaurant. They also offer a pet sitting service, in case you want to enjoy a fine dining experience elsewhere.
If you’re staying with a larger group, consider the delightful Cottage at Spicers Guesthouse. Located in Pokolbin, in the heart of the valley, the cottage contains four bedrooms, and is situated within the gorgeous five-star resort. Book a Pooch Package to stay in the Cottage, with a plush dog bed and dog bowls provided. Note that only dogs up to 25kg are permitted, and they must be kept off the furniture.
For a more rustic option, consider Hunter Valley Retreat. Located about 30 minutes drive south of Pokolbin, the retreat and conference centre offers basic double rooms, apartments and villas, all set in 81 hectares of bushland. Well-behaved and vaccinated dogs are welcome by arrangement.
Hunter Valley Pet-Friendly Cottages
Two of the best pet-friendly cottages in the Hunter Valley are Misty Glen Cottage and Wirral Grange. Misty Glen is a 3-bedroom self-contained cottage, with the rate varying depending on the number of bedrooms you book. Dogs are allowed inside the cottage, as well as in the large enclosed yard. Your can also take your pooch for an on-lead walk through the vineyard, or for a swim in the dam. A dog bed, toys, bowls and dog tags are included.
The cottage at Wirral Grange Vineyard in Lovedale is also three-bedrooms, sleeping up to seven, and comes with breakfast supplies from their own farm. Well-behaved, immunised dogs are welcome to join you, with no charge as long as they have their own bedding. There’s a fenced backyard where they can be safely left if you head out without them, plus onsite dams where they can enjoy a swim. (A shared saltwater swimming pool for humans is available during the summer.)
If you’re planning a Hunter trip with a large group of family or friends, check out Vinden Estate Homestead. The winner of the “Best Accommodation – Hunter Valley” award from Gourmet Traveller magazine in 2020, this six-bedroom property is set in parkland grounds and is dog-friendly.
Inside are two open fireplaces, while outside is a swimming pool and BBQ. Make sure you request in advance for pets to stay, plus note that the property isn’t fenced and the adjacent winery also has dogs.
Hunter Valley Pet-Friendly Caravan Parks
If you’re looking for a pet-friendly caravan park, both the Wine Country Tourist Park and Ingenia Holidays Hunter Valley are pet-friendly.
We stayed at the Wine Country Tourist Park, a small family-run park that’s close to the vineyards, where small pets are allowed at the manager’s discretion.
Ingenia Holidays has both pet-friendly sites and cabins available, although blackout dates may apply. Call or email to book a stay with your pet.
Dog-Friendly Dining in the Hunter Valley
Many of the restaurants and cafes scattered throughout the Hunter Valley have outdoor dining areas where you dog is welcome to join you. It’s best to plan ahead, with bookings often recommended on weekends and only limited options open during the week.
One of the most popular dog-friendly spots is The Deck Cafe Lovedale. Open daily for breakfast and lunch, plus Friday and Saturday evenings for dinner, both lunch and dinner has a tapas style menu. Not surprisingly the restaurant is located on a deck overlooking a dam – enquire if your dog can have a quick dip in the dam after dining!
More dog-friendly dining spots include Ironbark Hill Brewhouse, Brokenback Bar at Estate Tuscany, Two Fat Blokes Kitchen, Restaurant Botanica, Amanda’s on the Edge, and Fawk Food Kitchen and Bakery (also the spot to head for freshly baked sourdough). Even the French fine dining Bistro Molines permits dogs in their courtyard.
Don’t miss stopping by the Lovedale Smokehouse Cafe and Deli. They have a dog treat menu featuring doggy donuts, biscuits and cupcakes. Dine in at the cafe in the outdoor dining area or picnic grounds, with water bowls also provided, or pick up some treats for later.
If you’d prefer to have a picnic with some of your freshly bought local produce, many cellar doors have plenty of space for a picnic after you enjoy a wine tasting. Alternatively, head to the Pokolbin Rest Area, situated on a hillside south of the Hunter Valley Gardens, with multiple sheltered picnic tables and vistas over the vineyards to the Brokenback Range.
Dog-Friendly Parks and Walks in the Hunter Valley
If your dog is in need of some off-leash romping, there’s two off-leash dog exercise areas in the nearby town of Cessnock. Manning Park is a large space east of Allandale Road, while Hall Park is a smaller space accessible from the end of Chidgey Street and Stephen Street.
Curiously, when I visited in 2020, both of the parks have signs stating that dogs are only allowed on leash. At Manning Park, there’s an additional sign at the end of the Blackwood Avenue that states the entire area is off-leash. Here’s the relevant council website that states both are off leash.
A popular spot for locals to head for a walk with their dogs (although dogs need to be kept on a leash) is Kitchener Dam, about 5km south of Cessnock. The adjacent park is home to a large Poppet Head, an interesting remain from the mine that was once on the site. There’s a pleasant 1.2km walking trail around the dam, home to ducks and swans, plus another longer trail through the nearby bushland.
Note that the Hunter Valley Gardens has a strict no pets policy, so if you’d like to visit the gardens, organise a pet sitter for your dog.
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