Sutton Estate – Wine Escape Room

Room: Wine Escape Room
Location: Sutton Estate 381 Deasys Rd, Pokolbin
Date: 27/06/2017
Participants: 2
Cost: 2 people – $50 per person, 3 or more people, $30 per person
Escaped: No – but we did find the bonus bottle of wine!
Difficulty: 3

Overall rating: 33/40

A wine-themed escape room that’s sure to entertain.

​We decided to do a wine theme as we are in the heart of the Hunter Valley and we love the area and what it offers. We wanted guests the opportunity to learn a little about smelling and tasting wine and also work together as a team to escape the room to the prize of the ……. Can’t tell you too much but there is a storyline that will intrigue you and you have 60 minutes to find a treasure and escape!

This room is really aimed at first timers. A lot of visitors to the Hunter Valley have never done escape rooms before, and Wine Escape Room is a great introduction. It’s linear, which is always a little easier than non-linear rooms because you know where to start and there’s a logical progression to the puzzles. That being said, we still found this room very challenging and didn’t manage to escape, so it’s not just a room for beginners. It was one of the few rooms where I’ve felt we were at a real disadvantage only having two players. Often with linear rooms you’re fine with fewer people because you generally all have to work on the same puzzle at the same time anyway. In this case, there were some logistical things that would have made it far easier to have more people in the room. I’d recommend a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6. The room has also been designed so that multiple groups can play within a relatively short span of time, so it would be a great activity for larger tour groups.

Unlike most rooms I’ve played, Wine Escape Room uses a points system. You gain points for completing certain activities (for example, escaping) and lose points when asking for hints. I don’t really like having points, but I can see that it would be great for groups competing against each other, and if you didn’t care about earning points you could just choose to focus on escaping instead. The hint system is very simple – ask a question, get an answer – but because points are deducted for hints, the game masters couldn’t really prompt us or nudge us in the right direction when they thought we needed it. This meant that we didn’t actually finish the room and manage to escape. It’s personal preference, but I’d rather accept any penalty (time, points etc) and finish the room, so I know I’ve experienced everything. That being said, we got very close to finishing and didn’t use any hints, and there was a bit of a walkthrough afterwards to show us what we’d missed.

The game masters were inside the room with us, in part because they had to assist with one of the tasks and also because of the room design. There was no easy way for them to monitor what was happening from outside (and I can imagine sitting in a car waiting for us would have been very cold!). This was sometimes distraction when they were talking or laughing at something we were doing, and I was confused at one point because I couldn’t tell if something was part of the room or part of the corner of the room they were sitting in.

Theming: 8/10
Wine Escape Room really makes the most of being in the Hunter. The storyline all revolves around a winemaker and the theming in the room was consistent with that. There were some really wonderful elements that added to the theme that I can’t give away, but the whole thing was very atmospheric. If you don’t like the dark, this might not be the room for you, although my team member hates the dark and she still enjoyed the room. We played at night which definitely added to the overall atmosphere, but if you have younger players or are easily scared, book to play during the day instead. I wouldn’t say this particular room is child friendly, but I’m sure adaptions could be made if you wanted to play as a family group.

Creativity: 6/10
The puzzles were low-tech and the majority weren’t particularly original, although there were a couple of things I’ve never seen before. They worked well with the theme and there was a good variety of puzzles/activities and locks. Really high-tech puzzles would have been out of place and taken away from the theme. They’ve also really taken advantage of their location to include both indoor and outdoor components – something that a lot of escape rooms don’t have the luxury of doing. As they mention on their website, the room includes both a wine tasting and wine smelling activity, both of which were unique and very challenging! The wine tasting in particular would be easier if you’ve done some tastings first before playing. I really love having challenges that use different senses, and this was the only room I’ve ever done that involved taste.  As previously mentioned, this room is really geared towards first timers, so I don’t think the lack of puzzle originality is a negative. There were definitely a few things we failed to figure out quickly! We had trouble with two puzzles in particular – one was down to user error and my apparent inability to tell my left from my right, but the other was a mistake with the puzzle itself. That was a little frustrating  and contributed to us running out of time, but it’s an easy fix so it won’t be an issue for future groups.

Fun:  9/10
This was a really fun room. We said from the beginning that our aim was to find the mystery bottle of wine and I’m pleased to say we succeeded! We’re yet to drink it, but we were very proud of ourselves. The room flowed well and although some aspects were challenging, we didn’t spend long enough on any activity to get frustrated. Everything made sense and there was a lot of laughter as we ran around trying to solve clues. Even the fact that we failed to escape didn’t take away from the fun of the overall experience.

Atmosphere:  10/10
I cannot speak highly enough about how friendly the team were. I honestly didn’t want to leave and could have stayed chatting for hours. The friendliness of staff can really make or break an escape room experience, and these guys could not have done more to ensure we had a great time. It was obvious they loved what they were doing (maybe a little too much based on the evil laughter we heard from time to time) and that really shows in the whole game experience.

Overall rating: 33/40

If you find yourself in the Hunter Valley I highly recommend checking this room out, ideally in a team of 4-6 people. Make sure you book early, because they get very busy and are often booked out.  They mentioned they’re in the process of planning a second room and I’m so excited to head back and check it out, because I know it’ll be a lot of fun.

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