In the Hunter Valley two hours north of Sydney, are a couple of luxury Spicers Retreats. Maeve O'Meara has come here in search of delicious food experiences and to meet the people behind them.

1 Sep 2020 - 4:12 PM  UPDATED 20 Jan 2022 - 10:26 AM

Spicers Guesthouse is a local institution in Pokolbin, at the heart of the Hunter.

When Mark Whitnell took over as the General Manager, the builders were finishing off an extensive upgrade. Transforming the place where local winegrowers had gathered for nearly 40 years and they were being watched - closely.

That was a few years ago. Today, Maeve O'Meara can drink in the atmosphere. They’ve kept the essence. Whitnell shows off the wine wall that forms the centrepiece of the building, a serious nod to this rich heritage. This glass-walled, floor to ceiling cellar, showcases the extraordinary range of Hunter wines (and a few others). In the restaurant, they use it instead of a paper wine list, bringing diners here to make their choice.

Whitnell’s management pedigree is clear, a one time chef and restauranteur before turning to hotel management, with stints in Tasmania’s Saffire then the famous Royal Mail Hotel. Even with all this experience, he tells Maeve he feels he’s “hit the jackpot” coming here to Spicers Guesthouse: A thriving food and wine destination set in the middle of the most spectacular scenery. 

People come here for many different reasons, to explore the area, for conferences, or just to escape among the vines. 

Thankfully it’s still popular with locals too. That transformation was a success with those winegrowers and he's got to know quite a few of them along the way.



About Spicers Retreats 

Italian, Modern Australian, French, Thai and other Asian cuisines are just a few of the cooking styles that inspire the mouth-watering dishes created by Spicers’ multi-hatted chefs. And the food is just one of the reasons to visit these incredible retreats.

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