One of the best day trips from Launceston is a visit to Josef Chromy Winery. Driving into the pebbled entrance to Josef Chromy, the picturesque view over the vineyard and lake is reminiscent of being in Europe, but at the same time so very Tasmanian.
The Josef Chromy Cellar Door is located in the estate’s original 1880s homestead, surrounded by lovely gardens.
Inside, there’s an open log fire, where you can sip fine Tasmanian wine and enjoy views of the vineyards and lakes.
The fork-tailed lion that embellishes the Josef Chromy Tasmania wine label is similar to the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Bohemia in the 12th Century.
Bohemia, as you may or may not know, is, or rather was, part of former Czechoslovakia, which split into to nations, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
In 1950, Josef escaped from his war-torn Czech village, fleeing across borders. He managed to avoid minefields, sniffer dogs and soldiers.
Finally, he immigrated to Australia., where over the next 40 years he used his skills as a butcher and small goods producer to build Blue Ribbon Meat Products into one of Tasmania’s leading brands.
The company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1993.
The money he made gave Chromy the opportunity to invest in Tasmania’s fledgling wine industry.
He went on to own develop some of Tasmania’s leading wineries, including Rochecombe (now Bay of Fires), Jansz, Heemskerk and Tamar Ridge.
At 76, when most people would be well and truly retired, Chromy decided to launch Josef Chromy Wines. Since the birth of the brand in 2007, Josef Chromy Wines has won 14 trophies and 170 medals. It’s one of the most successful labels in Australia.
Josef Chromy cellar door
The Josef Chromy cellar door, vineyard and winery at Relbia, is a fifteen-minute drive south of Launceston.
It’s set in a picturesque 61ha vineyard and has a state-of-the-art winery that produces wine – such as Josef Chromy pinot gris, Josef Chromy sauvignon blanc, Josef Chromy chardonnay, Josef Chromy Riesling and Josef Chromy pinot noir – made from cool climate fruit.
These days, Chief Winemaker Jeremy Dineen is in charge of making wine.
There are three labels: the limited edition Zdar range, reserved for ‘exceptional’ parcels of fine wine; Josef Cromy; and Pepik, the more casual wines for everyday drinking.
You can enjoy a light lunch, gourmet platter or one of the chef’s seasonal specialties. The food and wine are outstanding, particularly the tasting plates which are matched with particular wines, some of them award-winning.
A stunning new restaurant and function centre that overlooks the picturesque lake and vineyard has recently opened and the restaurant that was formerly located in the cottage has relocated there.
Head chef Sean Keating prepares sensational fresh seasonal produce and my favourite, the amazing tasting plates that includes freshly shucked oysters from Freycinet on the east coast served with lemon.