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  • Di von Essen

A Must-Visit Destination for the Palate

Don't drive past the Magpie – or you'll miss out on what might just be the wine and food mecca of Lovedale! With two delicious reasons to pull over on your way down Lovedale Road from the Hunter Expressway, The Deck Café and Gartelmann Wines have become a must-visit destination for the palate.


Gartelmann Wines was established here in 1996 by Jan and Jorg Gartelmann, who developed a boutique winery specialising in award-winning handcrafted wines using grapes sourced from the Lower and Upper Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Rylstone, and Orange regions of NSW.

When the winery was purchased by Matt Dillow, Chef and owner of The Deck Café (already located on the site), just over 18 months ago, Matt was bubbling with plans, so we stopped in for a chat with Matt and Operations Manager Jimmy Smith to see how things are going.

It's about 18 months since you took over the whole property – what has been the biggest challenge during that time (apart from the obvious Covid, of course!)

Matt: Hands down – the weather!! We are predominantly an outdoor seating restaurant, and the weather has hurt us hard this year, but we have plans to fix lots of things and are now just waiting for the grounds to dry up so we can get a few jobs done.

You've made loads of changes in that time – what are some of your favourite changes?

Matt: Yes, there are a lot of changes! The staff love that we extended the kitchen and built a new massive cool room, but that's behind the scenes. My favourite addition is the awesome juice bar area – serving up freshly squeezed juices, Danish pastries, croissants and more. But basically, I just love looking after the grounds with my crew – making Gartelmann's look good, so when visitors drive in, they get that country feel – beautiful gardens, farm animals, and our beautiful old Ferguson tractors. I love seeing families walking around the grounds after breakfast, lunch or a wine tasting taking photos, and enjoying what my team and I are creating.

Gartelmann Wines have recently been sweeping up a few awards (see inset). Why do you think Gartelmann Wines have been so successful of late?

Jimmy: Our new release wines have been exceptional. Despite a challenging vintage, we were lucky to see some good fruit come in; ultimately, that is where it all starts. If we want to make great wine, we need great fruit. Combine this with the exceptional First Creek winemaking team led by Liz Silkman, and you can't go wrong. Matt and I are always involved in finishing the wines with Liz and Annabel to ensure they fit with the Gartelmann style and are of a quality we can all be proud of.

Are there any new or returning release wines for tasting in the Cellar Door right now?

Jimmy: We have just released the 2021 vintage of our Wilhelm Shiraz, a classic old Hunter Burgundy style made from fruit off the Glenesk Vineyard in the Upper Hunter. And over the next couple of months, we will see the 2022 vintage releases of our Brittany's Blanc de Blancs (named after Matt's eldest daughter) and the 2022 Stephanie Pinot Gris. Both will be perfect for Christmas and hopefully a rain-free, warm summer.

What's new at The Deck Café for Spring?

Matt: Our Spring/Summer menu will launch in October, and I'm excited about our Oysters Three Ways. This was one of my favourites at my original Tapas Restaurant - Soy Mirin/Tempura, with Thai Crab Salad and Salmon with citrus cream and caviar. Our locals nights are also on again once a month and are super popular with a different theme each month.

What else is happening in the Cellar Door (apart from building a new trophy case!)?

Jimmy: Obviously, some great wines for tasting, but also some upcoming members' events. Our Members Pick Up Picnic on Sunday 18 September and our Annual Barrel Tasting luncheon on Saturday 5 November. Both can be booked through our website or email And if you're not already a member – it's a great time to join!



  • 2018 Diedrich Reserve Shiraz – Best Shiraz of Show, 2022 Cowra Wine Show & Gold Medal 2022 NSW Small Winemakers Awards

  • 2022 Veronica Rosé – Best Rosé of Show, 2022 Hunter Valley Wine Show

  • 2022 Benjamin Semillon & 2022 Jessica Verdelho scored 96pts and are eligible for Wine of the Year Trophies with Winestate Magazine – final judging to come

  • Hunter Business Chamber of Commerce – Award for Innovation & Adaptability

  • Triple M Newcastle – Newcastle's Favourite Restaurant

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