Relaxed Vibe Reminiscent of Hunter Valley Days Gone By... RidgeView
RidgeView is a destination winery where, once you arrive, you don’t have to leave and probably won’t want to! If you’re looking for an escape, somewhere to enjoy award-winning wines matched with the freshest paddock to plate cuisine whilst taking in spectacular views over the vineyards, plus private cottage accommodation with your own sauna and jacuzzi that you can rest in after a game of tennis, a swim in the infinity edge pool or a spot of bushwalking, then look no further. Located just a short fifteen-minute drive from the heart of Pokolbin and set on over 130 acres of spectacular natural bushland and vineyards is RidgeView, rated five red stars by the Halliday Wine Companion. You won’t want to leave.
It's difficult to believe that in the year 2000, there was nothing on the land where RidgeView sits today. Purchased that year by Darren Scott and his wife Tracey as a family getaway property with no plans for any kind of extensive development, the couple had four children aged from five to 11 years and simply enjoyed escaping the southern suburbs of Sydney to relax in the Hunter. Darren was, and still is a full-time dentist, and it’s hard to imagine how he found time to create the development that he has.
“We had no intentions of creating anything as big as what we have. We thought we might plant a few vines to have fun with, but we did develop a business plan based on selling any fruit we grew. As time passed, we experimented and built on it until it became what it is today.”
The first vines were established in 2001, and the first two cottages were built the same year. They built the pool in 2004, the tennis court in 2005 and two more cottages in 2007. The restaurant and cellar door were built in 2009 and opened in December 2010. In 2020, Darren purchased the block next door and added 33 acres to his holding. The vineyards grow predominantly Shiraz with some Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Gris, Sangiovese, Chardonnay and Verdelho. To make his award-winning wines, he sometimes purchases Semillon and some Chardonnay fruit from the Hunter Valley and is proudly loyal to the region’s fruit, producing wines that are 100% local.
“In the early days, we ran our cellar door out of the shed, but by 2009, we won a big award for our Impressions Shiraz and realised that we needed a home for our wine. That’s when we built the cellar door, restaurant and house,” said Darren.
Darren and his wife have no background in farming, but for Darren, it’s become a passion.
“I like that I work at something completely different in Sydney. I like the separation. When we started out, Tracey took care of the accommodation side of the business, but now that we have nine grandchildren, her heart and time are spent elsewhere.
“I may not have a farming background, but we have discovered it’s in my genes. My father was into genealogy and discovered that our ancestors in the 1800s were German immigrants who lived in Maitland and worked as vine dressers. We didn’t find that out until long after we bought the property and started to grow grapes. So, I guess it’s in my blood!”
There are a few changes afoot at RidgeView, with one of the most exciting being the construction of a winery and the appointment of a new vineyard manager, Scott Clark, who has previously worked at Tyrrells and Talavera Estate. In addition, the restaurant is undergoing a rebrand as Harvest at RidgeView with the strong focus on paddock to plate and reducing their carbon footprint. Harvest at Ridgeview will also develop a stronger Italian theme under head chef Alessandro Cigola, who previously ran Osteria A' Mano on the Central Coast and hails from the small Italian town of Lugagnano Val d’Arda.
The passion for paddock to plate comes from Darren’s son, Brendan Scott who also works as a dentist with his father and will eventually take over the practice. In addition, he’s studying Wine Science at Charles Sturt University (CSU), as is Darren’s son-in-law Scott, so the future of the winery is in safe hands. Brendan’s progressive stance on sustainability has seen the development of substantial kitchen gardens, with a large greenhouse that is a showcase in and of itself and over one acre of vegetables and herbs. He consults with the chef regarding what plantings to undertake to support the restaurant and has two part time gardeners to help him. In addition to this, Brendan also works on bush regeneration around the estate, protecting the environment for the future.
“Brendan is passionate about decreasing our carbon footprint. Our big greenhouse where we cultivate all the seedlings and grow our vegetables is worth a visit. Guests and diners can walk through the gardens and see where the produce comes from. It’s an exciting new element to how we do things and as such, we’ve extended the gardens into the new block next door. Whatever we can’t grow we make sure that we try to source locally and as much as possible from a farmer.
“We’re putting a real focus on the restaurant right now. We offer our wines at cellar door prices, which is a huge saving for diners, and each dish is carefully crafted to pair with our estate-grown wines. We’re open for lunches from Thursday through to Sunday, dinners on Friday and Saturday nights and breakfast on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s a beautiful spot to sit alfresco and dine over a long lunch on the deck.
On Saturday, 28 October, RidgeView invites people to join them on a journey from Ocean to Paddock. Starting with appetisers and canapes in the cellar door followed by a seven-course degustation dinner expertly paired with new release and museum RidgeView Wines, this unique event will showcase the creativity of Alessandro Cigola and highlight locally sourced produce and ingredients from the onsite gardens. Over candlelit long tables, the perfect atmosphere for a night revolving around good food, wine, and new friends will offer a spectacular event and costs $160 per person.
The Italian theme continues with popular pasta-making classes for kids during the school holidays. Parents are encouraged to join their children for lunch in the restaurant. When parents are enjoying a cellar door tasting, children can enjoy a delicious spread designed just for them that includes an activity pack. With plenty of space to run around, they won’t be bored, and the grounds are pet-friendly too.
With so much on offer and such beautiful surroundings, it’s no surprise that it’s a popular wedding venue. All four of the Scott kids have held their wedding receptions at RidgeView, and two of them held the ceremony there.
“The ideal number of guests for our weddings sits at about 80, but we have done 110. We’re flexible in terms of how the weddings are designed, and we have packages available that are inexpensive when you compare them to other venues. It’s a great space for weddings because the cottage accommodation allows up to 12 guests to stay on-site, and we even have glamping options.”
With such an idyllic rural setting, there’s a relaxed vibe reminiscent of the Hunter Valley thirty years ago. There are picnic tables amongst the vines, people are encouraged to lay a blanket on the grass to enjoy their food and wine, and there are plans for Sunday sessions in the new year.
The cherry on the top is, of course, the fact that it’s not necessary to go home. You can stay in the luxury cottage accommodation on site. Two two-bedroom cottages and two one-bedroom cottages are all situated to provide perfect privacy. The one-bedroom cottages include a jacuzzi and sauna. They all have log fires and air conditioning, kitchens, covered alfresco entertaining spaces with BBQ facilities, spa baths and covered parking. Nestled in an idyllic setting of majestic spotted gums and ironbarks, overlooking waterways circumscribed by natural bushland and vineyards, RidgeView Cottages provide a secluded oasis to escape and unwind. Add to that the private use of the infinity-edge pool (which actually won an award) and the tennis courts, and chances are, it won’t be your only visit to RidgeView.
Over the years, RidgeView has won hundreds upon hundreds of awards for its wines. The cellar door tastings are $5 per person, redeemable on purchase. There is no charge for members or cottage or restaurant guests.
“The show season for this year is just kicking off. So far, we have won lots of silvers for Shiraz, Semillon and Chardonnay. Last season, we won a lot of gold for similar wines and a trophy in the 2022 ANZ Boutique Wine Show for best Semillon (2013 Impressions Semillon).”
Darren and his team are excited about their explorations of different varieties, making special mention of the Italian Sangiovese from a neighbouring block they purchased being harvested for the first time in 2024. Fans of the RidgeView Impressions Shiraz will need to wait until April 2024 for the release of the 2022 vintage, and the new Chardonnay is an elegant take on the old classic with a fruit-driven, carefully balanced oak that will appeal to modern palates.
Whether it’s the award-winning wines, the delicious Italian fare, the stunning views or the secluded cottages that draw you to it, Ridgeview is worth escaping to.