A Family Run Vineyard with Lots to Offer
Calais Estate is no new kid on the block, in fact the current family have owned and run the estate for 20 years, but whether you have already been or are yet to go, a visit here is worth your time.
This is an all in family business, with members of the Bradley Family running different areas of the Estate. Mum and Dad duo, Susan and Richard, did the whole sea change thing moving from Sydney.
Then their daughter’s Jo and Katrina couldn’t resist the Pokolbin charm and moved up to help with the family business. Jo took on the role of General Manager and Katrina took on the role of Marketing and set up a homewares and gift store on site.
With the charm of the family, the picturesque location, the character of the old building and a cellar door, gift shop and restaurant all on site, Calais Estate is a great addition to a wine tasting day or just as a sole visit.
Calais Estate Cellar Door
Located on the ground floor of the main Estate building, we entered through large wooden doors into the cellar door for some wine tasting to start off our visit.
The walls of the cellar door were made from convict cut sandstone blocks, the roof accentuated by dark wooden beams and the fireplace towards the back drew you into a space with plenty of atmosphere and character. It would be the perfect stop for both a summer day, as it was nice and cool inside, or a cold winters day enjoying a red by the fire.
Calais Estate are renowned for their Chardonnay - so we tasted the Cuvee Chardonnay which was an older style wine with an intense flavour profile. We also got to try the 2019 Durif, a robust red with cinnamon and pepper aromas and a tart mulberry palate.
Cellar Door Manager, Larna, made our wine tasting all the more enjoyable with her friendly, relaxed approach and knowledge of the wines she poured.
The cellar door is opened 7 days a week.
Calais Estate Gourmet Picnics
Next it was outside to enjoy the picturesque location with a gourmet picnic.
The picnic experiences can range from the Romance Package which is the more extravagant option including a helicopter flight, a styled picnic for two and the opportunity to make your own sparkling wine. Or if you want to take it down a notch or two you can just opt for the $35 cheese pack and bring your own blanket to enjoy on the grounds, or the styled picnic with cheeses, fruit, premium cold meats, olives and something sweet for $50pp. We opted for this one and it was such a divine experience.
The staff at Calais had set up our own little slice of heaven on the grass overlooking the vineyards. We got ourselves comfy on a sweet lace picnic blanket as the staff brought out our picnic board. It was very generous - with the weight of the board and the selection of delicacies, it took two people to carry it out!
We purchased a bottle of red and enjoyed the unique experience of lounging amongst the vines whilst eating some of the best produce from the Hunter Valley.
You can book your own picnic experience online or chat to the team about your individual requirements.
We next headed upstairs with Milly, the Front of House Manager of Kawul, and were impressed with the change since we last visited. Kawul took over this space from the previous Verandah Restaurant in 2020 moving in during lockdown and they have really created a new fresh, stylish and inviting restaurant.
Chef Jayden Casinelli, is one young gun to keep your eyes on. At 24 years of age, he has already worked with two Hatted Chefs, Troy Rhodes-Brown and Mitch Beswick from Muse Restaurant in Pokolbin and now manages and is Head Chef of Kawul.
The menu at Kawul is inspired by native Australian bush flavours with a focus on plant based and organic food locally grown in the Hunter Valley. They have some great variety too, ranging from burgers at lunch if you’re after something more affordable and casual, to top quality restaurant dishes such as the crispy skin Daintree Barramundi with lemon myrtle, zucchini, tomato and charred fennel puree.
We took a seat on the balcony overlooking the green vineyards whilst the team at Kawul spoiled us with a delicious selection of meals and drinks. It was such a lovely setting, with fantastic food and great service. We will definitely be paying the Kawul team another visit.
Kawul is open for breakfast and lunch Friday - Monday and dinner Friday and Saturday nights with Thursdays soon to be added.
Come What May
On the way out we stopped in to Come What May, the gift shop downstairs. It is tucked away on the ground level under the stairs so be sure not to pass by without a visit.
After spending a decade in Australia’s shopping mecca, Melbourne, Katrina, the owner of Come What May, decided to join her family and set up shop in Pokolbin. She brings her love of vintage and elegant modern pieces, and has a knack for sourcing unique items that will complement many homes and make thoughtful unique gifts.
On display is a broad range of gifts from home made jams and spreads (the chillies for one are home grown by Katrina’s mum), to locally made candles, kids gifts and beeswax wraps.
My two favourite items were the chocolates made by a local women’s refuge who work to equip vulnerable women with the tools and support they need to lead fulfilling lives. Not only do the women from the refuge make these chocolates but all proceeds go back towards this important charity organisation.
My other personal favourite was the fig jam - it was absolutely delicious and made for a fantastic inclusion on cheese platters. The sweetness of the jam was great paired with my fav blue cheese.
Come What May is open Friday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm or by appointment. You can also sign up to the care package club which sends out a unique gift once a month for $35.
Not only does Calais Estate have the beautiful atmosphere and wine tasting but it being host to the delectable restaurant Kawul, a quaint little gift shop Come What May and some amazing picnic experiences really makes it a wonderful spot to visit in the Hunter Valley.