The Broke Fordwich Wine Trail

Broke Fordwich wine region in the Hunter Valley beckons with acreage of boutique family wineries, undulating NSW hills, and intimate cellar doors. It's a beautiful area of NSW, and a wine trail less travelled. And it's also one of my favourite parts of the world.

While some of my companions took the zappier highway en route, I enjoyed a country pace rallying through the more scenic and direct northerly route from Sydney of Peats Ridge Road and George Downs Drive through Wollombi. That road trip is a family tradition. And, I was after all on an adventure to a family wine region - for my 2024 reconnaissance ahead of the March A Litte Bit Of Broke festival.

The Best Broke Fordwich Cellar Doors To Visit

Margan Wines, 1238 Milbrodale Road, Fordwich

Margan are regional leaders so it's a must do stop on your Broke Fordwich wine trail. The family farm and winery is now two generational with Andrew and Lisa Margan joined by emerging winemaker, son Ollie. With more of the family to follow? Margan Wines sets the benchmark for sustainability with vinicultural practices which support long term ecological balance and don't deplete natural resources. Continuing this approach the restaurant kitchen garden provides food for the ultra-local food restaurant headed by Chef Joey Ingram, where you can enjoy the estate grown and estate made Margan wines matched on the Margan restaurant menu. Sustainability at Margan is foundational from the ground up and the stunning architecture of both the restaurant and the Margan cellar door is built using local packed earth.

Winmark Wines & Art Gallery, 229 Wollombi Road, Broke

In 2023, Winmark Wines won the Best Cellar Door across the whole greater Hunter Valley wine region. Owner Karin Adcock has poured other lifelong loves, ranging from a passion for interiors to expertise in revitalising large properties, into this estate. And while other vineyards were pulling out Chardonnay, Karin decided to concentrate of one of the grapes that Broke Fordwich grows best. The premium Winmark Icon 72 Chardonnay scored 96 by the 2024 Halliday Wine Guide is also listed as one of Halliday's best wines to try in the Hunter Valley. You'll also find the massive Poole's Rock (with the wine label of the same name now located elsewhere) here, stunning sculptures elevating the 130 acres of Winmark landscape, and more of Karin's passion pouring into the art gallery that is adjacent to the cellar door.

Krinklewood Estate, 712 Wollombi Road, Broke

Krinklewood also holds a special place in my heart as the place where I first learnt about biodynamic wines. In fact, Krinklewood has been certified Organic & Biodynamic for more than 17 years. Biodynamic wines take organic wine making without synthetic chemicals or preservatives up a couple of notches, using a wholistic approach in a simpatico union with nature, the lunar cycles and our planet. The Estate is set on 150 acres of Provençal beauty, set under the gaze of the Brokenback mountain range. While the Krinklewood Estate cellar door and gardens are a most noteworthy Broke Fordwich visit, it comes as no surprise that Krinklewood owner and disruptor founder Oscar Martin has a new project on his grounds. Teaming up with Australian architect Peter Stutchbury who states "For thousands of years, housing has been sustainable. Recently it is not. Dimensions X is a responsible future model - energy conscious architecture", Krinklewood offers the new Dimensions X sustainable accommodation protypes to guests overlooking the vineyard.

Greenway Wines, 350 Wollombi Road, Broke

Vigneron and architect Anne Greenway fell in love with this Broke Fordwich vineyard and "became its custodian. The vineyard originally planted with Merlot, perched on the banks of a brook, sported luscious sandy loam soils suited perfectly to the growing of white wines. So determined to do the best I could with this vineyard – white grape shopping I went!" Now Greenway Wines celebrate Fiona four ways including two sparkling wines. You can read more about her love of varietal Fiano here. In their broader range, Greenway Wines offer the Aussie class sparkling red as a very drinkable sparkling merlot. And there's even more of their wines to try at the Red Barn cellar door.

Whispering Brook, Rodd Street, Broke

Whispering Brook offers the dream intimate experience that I imagine in mind when I think of a cellar door and winery experience. You can sip a Semillon - the varietal for which the Hunter Valley is renowned - and that Australian Classic Christmas drink Sparkling Shiraz. Yet, at this cellar door you may get more than you expect. At Whispering Brook single vineyard, artisan small batch winemaker Suzanne Frazier also offers innovative Portuguese varietals - we tried her lively citrus and crisp apple Arintino. There are walking tours into the vineyard, olive grove and winery. And there is a large house accommodation where you can be part of life on the estate which The Wollombi Brook borders. The winery is also surrounded by Yengo National Park, The Wollemi National Park, and the Brokenback Ranges. Whispering Brook’s olive grove was planted in 1997 and 1998 and is now producing premium extra virgin olive oil and Kalamata table olives. The olive grove comprises of: Corregiola (or Frantoio) prized for its oil qualities; Manzanillo can produce both oil and table olives; Kalamata olives which are renowned as table olives.

Talits Estate, 722 Milbrodale Road, Fordwich

Talits Estate French-inspired homestead sits within 50 acres of beautifully crafted gardens, olive trees and meticulously managed and award-winning Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Merlot vines. The vineyard is James Halliday rated and has won multiple awards in boutique and Australian/NZ wine shows. Winemaker Daniel Binet, has been twice nominated for The Wine Society's Young Winemaker of the Year as well as awarded the Hunter Valley Rising Star and the Hunter Wine Excellence scholarship. Talits offer a specialty Rosé, Chardonnay and Pinot/Syrah wines.

Cael's Gate

Chew family business Cael’s (Heaven's) Gate, asks the question what separates great wines from good ones? So the focus is on low-yielding vines and ensuring grape maturity to optimize the quality of the fruit. By maintaining low-yielding vines, more energy is concentrated on fewer grape clusters. Cael's Gate creates small batch, hand-picked and handcrafted wines grown in the Hunter and other wine regions of NSW.

Honey Wines Australia,72 Wollombi Street, Broke

Honey Wines Australia took a private passion for the ancient art of mead-making and turned a hobby into a business as the areas only meadery. So no grapes here! Rather honey, and some interesting Viking memorabilia.

Your Broke Fordwich Guide To The Best Of The Rest

Yet wine isn't all there is to this district. The girls on the hill didn't know what to do with all their muscat grapes they inherited when they 'retired' to Broke Fordwich and what is now Kawal Rock Distillery From local grapes only and the Tasmanian copper still they bought during the pandemic, they are producing some mighty fine gins - I bought two bottles home - and also brandy. Their rock on private property can land a helicopter, so the bonus here is that Maria and Louise can also organise helicopter picnics. On the way you also pass Hunter Lavender Farm and Starline Alpacas both of whom will welcome you.

When you are ready for a break from wine and spirits tasting make sure to visit the natural accoutrements farm door Riverflats Estate for tastings of a different kind - olive oil and hot olives, and exquisite gourmet condiments including soys and vinegars. Embracing both nature and natural therapies the property, another family run affair, also trades as BARE Nature'sKin created by Michelle Waite in 2007. It was huge fun here, with a record player spinning old vinyls on the verandah. I even put in a request, which was played - Skyhooks, I'm Living In The '70s. More purchases: I brought home olive oil. And a natural loofah dipped in hand made soap. Most exciting is the regular natural remedies courses postered on the door. I'll be back... Life needs balance.

Right in its heart, Broke Village offers one of the best country cafes that you will ever find. The newly opened Magoony's Coffee House at 19 Singleton Street transforms the old Broke servo with stylish vintage signage and decor looking out to cow paddocks across the road. It's a family business with some of the best cafe food including pastries and cakes coming out of the kitchen. While the Broke cafe is open until 2pm Thursday to Sunday, this next festival will see the new offering of Friday night pizzas and the addition of local The Little Wine Company opening their second Hunter Valley cellar door, but this time it's just about showcasing their own small batch wines.

A little bit further up the Putty Road you can fill up on petrol at Bulga. Both Broke and neighbouring Bulga were founded as towns in 1824 and celebrating their historic 200th anniversaries in 2024. 

A Little Bit Of Broke

Each year, the region provides additional encouragement to visit this stunning scenery, with the annual A Little Bit Of Broke festival weekend. This year 2024 the much-loved festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary and will offer a record 16 sensational venues to explore in one fabulous weekend, Friday 15 to Sunday 17 March.

The Broke Fordwich festival map includes Cellar Doors, Restaurants, Lite Bites, Olives, Accommodation, Coffee and Live Music - and marks the spot for the Festival Hub at the intersection of Wollombi Road and Broke Road, right at the heart of Broke village.

The Festival "How To"

Grab your gang and a festival kit which includes your festival entry. Friday 15 to Sunday 17 March 2024 is a weekend to discover wine, food, farm gate produce, events, live music, and experiences. 

Book your accomodation and start planning your itinerary at

Leave your car at your local bed rest, the hop on hop bus will be circling Wollombi and Millbrodale Roads all weekend. Simply book your day shuttle when you book your festival kit. 

2024 Bookable Festival Add-Ons

A Little Bit Of Margan: 90 minutes where you go behind the scenes of this sustainable farmed working vineyard, restaurant kitchen garden and orchard, and Margan winery. Sample wines straight from the tank and enjoy a tasting flight or premium wines. $30 per person.

The Little Wine Company Join winemaker Suzanne Little for a fun and informative one hour masterclass on Italian varietals including Pecorino, Vermentino, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and Barbera. You will be presented with six beautiful wines matched with six individual food pairings. $45 per person.

Winmark Wines & Art Gallery Winmark Wines is not just a premium Chardonnay producer, but a remarkable destination for Wine & Art. Discover Winmark Wines and pre-book your delicious seafood platter matched with a glass of extraordinary Winmark Chardonnay for anytime throughout both days. $45.

Greenway Wines are in cahoots with their chef to offer 1.5 hour cooking classes in the Red Barn Kitchen. $90 per person.

Cael's Gate Wines  request the pleasure of your company for a weekend filled with live music, delicious grazing boxes and an array of their wines. Session times: anytime through both days - with an all day duration $35.

Whispering Brooke are pairing sensational local artisan chocolates with their own unique Portuguesde style wines in one hour sessions for $30.

Close to Sydney, at just a bit over 2 hours drive, the Broke Fordwich wine region can be achieved in a day trip yet is so much more enjoyable at a leisurely pace over a weekend or extended stay. I stayed at one of the stunning Winmark Wine properties the glass wrapped living space of Mio Monte brimming with original artworks, although I'm told the boutique accommodation in the area offers over 600 beds.

Big call: if I had the money, this is where I'd live - permanently. But work in Sydney has a foothold, and so the best I can do is visit Broke Fordwich as often as I can. And I suggest you do too...