Wine regions - Tasmania Zone
Tasmanian wineries have gained an international reputation for the production of premium quality sparkling wine, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. But when in 2011 Nick Glaetzer of Glaetzer Dixon won the Jimmy Watson Trophy for Tasmanian grown Shiraz, that reputation took on a whole new dimension - with wine consumers being introduced to a distinctively Tasmanian approach to Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz, one that features depth and elegance.
Wineglass Bay & The Hazards
Photo: Chris Bray Photography
Image courtesy: Tourism Tasmania
Tasmania is in an enviable position of having demand for its wine outstrip supply. Half of their wine is consumed on the island - the mainland is lucky enough to get some and a mere 8% is exported overseas.
Sheralee Davies from Wine Tasmania said there was a real sense of pride in the quality of Tasmanian wine that translated into consumer confidence, so much so that Tasmanian Pinot Noir was the second most listed red wine in restaurants nationally.
Tasmania's reputation for sparkling wine is also surging with four labels on James Halliday's best sparklings 2013 list reflecting just how good Pinot and Chardonnay fruit can get.
The industry has worked hard to promote the authentic nature of the artisan approach to wine making in Tasmania. "Winemakers have a collaborative approach to marketing the Tasmania brand and as a consequence Tasmania is positive in people's minds." said Sheralee.
The Tasmanian wine industry was pioneered by winemakers who invested in the long term future of the industry by sharing their knowledge and expertise with new entrants. Claudio Alcorso who planted the first Riesling grapes in 1958 at Moorilla, Dr Andrew Pirie who established Pipers Brook on the Tamar and Andrew Hood who lifted standards through his contract winemaking business, all shared a belief in the unique qualities of Tasmanian terroir to produce great wines.
Tasmania is now entering a new phase of development with the arrival of prominent mainland winemakers who want to work with Tasmanian grapes. Nick Glaetzer of Barossa fame sources Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz from all over the state. The Victorian based Brown Brothers have expanded with the purchase of Tamar Ridge at Rosevears and the Hazards Vineyard on the east coast producing the Devil's Corner label. In 2011 Shaw + Smith from the Adelaide Hills purchased the Tolpuddle Vineyard in the Coal River Valley with the aim of producing premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. No doubt as Tasmania's reputation expands and the high price points continue more big named wineries will look to getting a Tasmanian berth.
Moorilla Estate and MONA, a place to
feast all the senses including the ones
you thought you never had
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Photo courtesy: MONA
Wine tourism is also a focus for the wine industry with Moorilla Estate setting the pace with the establishment of MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). Moorilla MONA highlights the perfect match between wine and food culture and the visual and performing arts, creating a ground swell of interest worldwide in Tasmanian culinary culture and cultural events in general. (Link to special feature on Moorilla MONA).
The whole island of Tasmania is an official wine zone. There are no wine regions. However, there is a broad division between Southern Tasmania and Northern Tasmania and within this division there are distinct viticultural areas which include the Derwent Valley, Coal River Valley, Huon Valley and D' Entrecasteaux Channel in the south and in the north, Pipers Brook, Tamar Valley, the North West and Eastern Tasmania. The island has a range of microclimates and soil types which gives Tasmanian wines their diversity of character.
Southern Tasmania incorporates wine areas within easy reach of Hobart. Vineyards grace the Derwent Valley which follows the flow of the Derwent River down its west bank to Hobart and the sea. On a bend of the river near Granton is Derwent Valley Estate and Stefano Lubiana Wines one of the finest producers of sparkling wine and Pinot Noir in Australia. The much acclaimed Moorilla Estate pioneered by Italian immigrant Claudio Alcorso in the 1950's lies with MONA on the Berriedale Peninsula.
North east of Hobart is the Coal River Valley taking in the towns of Cambridge, Campania and Tea Tree and the historic town of Richmond. The vineyards are situated on the north east slopes of the valley to capture the sun. The valley has a number of cellar doors including Frogmore Wines (formerly Meadowbank Estate) one of the pioneers of wine tourism in Tasmania having established a fine restaurant and events programs. Other well known producers are the award winning Coal Valley Vineyard, Pooley Wines, Heemskert, Pressing Matters and Domaine A - Stoney Vineyard to the north near Campania.
View of Marion Bay from Bream Creek Vineyard
Photo courtesy: Bream Creek
There are a couple of wineries east of Hobart along the route which takes you to the scenic Tasman Peninsula and historic Port Arthur, a convict settlement, known for its harsh treatment of the most hardened of felons. Interestingly in the 19th century it was also a place of imprisonment for the mentally ill, intellectually disabled and poor - so added to crimes listed on the statute books was the unwritten crime of bad luck and misfortune. Enroute you will find Barilla Bay Oysters were you can dine on these fabled mollescus and other seafood served with Tasmanian wines. Cape Bernier Vineyard will take you on a tour of the vineyard if you book. One of Tasmania's oldest vineyards Bream Creek is in this locale overlooking Marion Bay. They do not have a cellar door but you can purchase their wines along with other local wines from Vines & Designs at the Copping Museum were they have a good selection and a cafe.
South of Hobart is the beautiful Huon Valley which runs the course
of the Huon River as it flows into the
D' Entrecasteaux Channel hence this area is sometimes referred to as the Huon Channel. Well known estates are Hartzview Vineyard were they have both a cafe and accommodation and Home Hill Wines with its much awarded wines and restaurant.
The vineyards of Southern Tasmania are carefully located for maxiumum exposure to the sun and protection from the cold southerly winds. They reside around rivers and bays therefore experiencing the tempering effects of large bodies of water. Harvest in the south is between April and late May, around two weeks eariler than the north with, however, some varieties such as Riesling ripening as late as June.
The key grape varieties in the south are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Alternative varieties include Sylvaner and Schonburger.
Freycinet Vineyard nestled into a
north facing hill
Image courtesy: Freycinet Vineyards
The best way to head up to Northern Tasmania is via the East Coast with its stunningly beautiful scenery, national parks and wineries. The first vineyard on this route is Darlington Vineyard at Orford which is also were you get the ferry to historic Maria Island, now a national park. The main vineyard area is north from Swansea around Cranbrook along both sides of the road to the must see Freycinet Peninsula and Wineglass Bay.
I visited Freycinet Vineyard not long after winemakers Claudio Radenti and Lindy Bull had returned from the Royal Hobart Wine Show with a handful of trophies. The vineyard was established by Lindy's family in the early 1980's. With the growth in reputation has come expansion of the vineyard area with the recent purchase of a block from neighbouring Coombend Vineyard. The tasting covered the Freycinet and Louis labels (named after French explorer Louis de Freycinet). Of special interest was the 2011 Louis Riesling
Schönberg with floral notes of honey Kunzea, a native shrub/small tree endemic to Tasmania.
Coles Bay, close to the National Park and wineries makes a good stopover. Enjoy woodfired pizza, wine and coffee at Tombolo a wee little cafe overlooking the bay.
Josef Chromy Wines, cellar door and
restaurant with a view as fine as its wines
Photo: Darren Rist
Image courtesy: Tourism Tasmania
Central to the exploration of the northern vineyard areas of Tasmania the is the city of Launceston located on the banks of the Tamar River. North west of the city is the Tamar Valley and to the north east is Pipers Brook and Pipers River. These areas combined are commonly referred to as the Tamar Valley Wine Route.
The Northern Tasmanian wine industry was pioneered by Dr Andrew Pirie who established Pipers Brook Vineyard in 1974. By producing excellent wines and marketing them effectively, Pipers Brook Vineyard (PBV) brought Tasmanian wine to prominence in the minds of wine drinkers in Australia and internationally. Today the name Pirie is a Brown Brothers label for premium sparkling wine and PVB is owned by the Belgium company Kreglinger Wine Estates. The northern wine industry has matured with growth in the numbers of wineries, cellar doors and tourist facilities and the production of high quality wines. The industry has some large players such as Accolade Wines's, Bay of Fires, Yalumba's Jansz Wine Company and Kreglinger Wine Estates labels all of whom export their wines.
But the big area of growth has been in boutique wineries. Typical of the size is Native Point Wines, a small producer on the east bank of the Tamar River. Friday summer evening drinks and dinner in the garden was a real treat. Their 2011 Pinot Gris was a great match with delicious scallop pies and their 2005 Pinot Noir was a standout.
The small wineries are often the most fun to discover and watch as they establish, experiment, explore and emerge from the landscape often with wines of exquisite quality and uniqueness. Please refer to Wineries listings on the right hand menu.
View of the Tamar River from Native Point Wines
Image courtesy: Native Point Wines
Along with the increasing number of wineries and vineyards has been the growth in wine tourism with Josef Chromy Wines, Pipers Brook, Rosevears Vineyard Retreat and Holm Oak all providing dining experiences with fine wines, excellent foods and beautiful views.
The final sub-region to visit is the North West. Devonport were the Bass Strait ferry berths is the main town, followed by Deloraine. This region is also referred to as the Cradle Mountain Coast. Lake Barrington Vineyard is the most southern vineyard in this sub-region closest to the mountains. Barrington Park at Lower Barrington has a cellar door, likewise Ghost Rock who also have cafe and host concerts.
The northern region is full of small artisan winemakers to be discovered by the curious and adventurous wine buff and because this is Tasmania it takes hardly any time to travel around.
The modern cellar door and cafe of Ghost Rock
Photo: Owen Hughes
Image courtesy: Tourism Tasmania
Grape varieties of note are Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Standout wine styles are sparkling wine, Chardonnay and Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
Unusual varieties grown in the north are Arneis and Schönberger.
From Agricultural Excellence to Regional Cuisine
Tasmania is a wine lover's and foodie's paradise sponsored by a farming culture which values clean, green and genetically unmodified produce. The island produces orchard fruits and berries which are sold fresh and also made into ciders and fruit wines. A wide variety of vegetables and herbs are grown including mushrooms and black truffles. Australia's first black truffle farm Perigold Truffles was established in Tasmania in 1993.
Many species of fish, and seafood platters of abalone, scallops, oysters, mussels and crayfish are harvested from the Southern Ocean and Bass Strait. The wild rivers are bountiful in trout for those who enjoy the quiet repose of fly fishing. Tasmania also produces some of the finest farmed fish in Australia, with product such as top class Atlantic Salmon. The island produces quality artisan cheeses, milk and cream and also has organic meats including farmed venison and game.
The arrival of yachts sailing in the blue water classic Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race signals the start of Taste of Tasmania, an annual event that celebrates the wine and food produced on the island. Although summer to autumn is the main event season, there are wine and food tastings and festivals throughout the year.
For wine afficinados the nationally Tasmania has two wines that are the focus of national and international attention. The Royal Hobart Wine Show held at the Royal Showgrounds in Hobart in November and the Tasmanian Wine Show held in January. Both these shows have public tastings.
Individual wineries also have events; these in include Moorilla Estate, Fromore
The whole travelling experience in Tasmania is simply terrific. The hospitality is great, there are plenty of places of cultural interest, the variety of wine and food experiences is excellent, distances are short and the landscape is diverse and very, very beautiful.
Harvest times: early April to late May.
Sites with more information:
Images of Tasmania on this page are courtesy Tourism Tasmania.