It’s time to explore wine regions in Tasmania along Australia’s coolest wine trail. So come along for a swirl and a sip. Put your nose into a glass of Aussie Vinifera and guess what region it’s from.
Tasmania has recently been going off the charts with unparalleled vintages that have caught the attention of international wine snobs.
Many insiders swear that rivalling wine-producing neighbours in Victoria and South Australia can thank Tasmania for the burgeoning grape vines in these states. James Halliday, Australia’s lauded wine critic and vigneron explains on his website how wine has been made in Tasmania years before vines were even planted in either of those states.
“When William Henty sailed from Launceston to Portland (in Victoria) on board the schooner Thistle in 1834, his personal effects included ‘one cask of grape cuttings and one box of plants.’ John Hack planted vines in South Australia (said by some authorities to be the first to do so, although the records are not conclusive) in 1837, followed by John Reynell in 1838; both men obtained their cuttings from Port Arthur in Southern Tasmania,” Mr. Halliday writes at WineCompanion.com.au.
Don’t take his word for it though. It’s time to unfurl the bouquet of the Apple Isle’s exotic wine regions in a state that has – at last count – 160 wine producers. Discover the acclaimed wine regions with some tasting notes.
1-Huon Valley – famous for cool climate wines
A handful of boutique wineries make this region on the Southern Wine Route a popular stop for wine lovers. Located 40 minutes south from the capital of Hobart, see the floor of Huon Valley festooned in grape vines and realize it’s similarity to Bordeaux, France. The Huon Valley lies on the same degree of latitude as the legendary French wine region albeit 43 degrees south of the Equator.
Some favourite stops include Panorama Vineyard, beautiful for its radiant views on the north-facing banks of the Huon River and best-known for top-class Pinots, full-bodied cabernet sauvignon, medal-winning chardonnays and fresh sauvignon blancs.
The vintners secret: hand harvested with each grape inspected. Qantas Airlines Frequent Fliers in First Class will be familiar with the winery’s Pinot Noir.
Then there’s Home Hill Winery, home to a popular roadside restaurant that pairs fabulous local seasonal ingredients with the winery’s new and popular vintages. Sample award-winning Pinot Noir, chardonnay and sylvaner, along with sparkling wines.
2-Tamar Valley wine region for delicious sauvignon blanc
Tasmania’s wine bastion, the island’s largest wine region is home to over 20 wineries. From Launceston, follow the iconic looped wine route from Launceston northward to Rowella with the fertile banks of the Tamar River in view nearly the entire way then head eastward to Pipers River and veer south to Relbia.
The entire 145km route can be done in two hours but we recommend making winery stops along the way. In Rowella, Holm Oak Vineyards dubbed Tasmania’s best kept secret is the idea of a husband and wife team, Rebecca and Tim Duffy.
The sprawling estate sits on the former oak grove of the acclaimed Alexander Patent Racquet Company known for manufacturing the ‘wizard’ racquet used by Australia’s tennis champion Jack Crawford who won Wimbledon in 1933.
The oak trees are long gone but spot some vintages named in homage to its tennis racquet roots. The wine cellar is known for its icy cool wines and popular Pinots.
3-North West Wine Route
Some of Tasmania’s prettiest towns sit on this coastal edge and so do a bumper crop of wineries. The wee town of Devonport makes a good launch pad for this coastal wine tour.
Only 15-minutes from Devonport be sure to stop at the Barringwood Vineyard. This gorgeous vineyard lies on a dramatic steep north facing slope overlooking the lush Don Valley toward the ever changing Bass Strait. Ask about their Pinots and chardonnays.
Over in Penguin, the vintners of Blue Penguin Wines can spot some eco-friendly winemaking: their own. The winemakers produce carbon-neutral, conserve water and use a minimum of preservatives to get their true wine taste. Besides Pinot Noirs, Pinot Grigios, cabs and Rieslings discover their Italian-inspired Limoncello too.
4-East Coast Wine Route
Between Orford and St. Helens off Tasmania’s rugged east coast is a picture-perfect world of wineries. You’ll want to wear your sunglasses though when sightseeing as the region boasts more sunny days than any other part of Tasmania.
As you drive by the stunning vistas in the area, make time to explore the fabled wineries. Considered the first commercial winery on the east coast, Freycinet Vineyard is a family-owned winery that has been producing wines since the 1980s, when Aussie songstress Olivia Newton John’s Magic from the hit movie Xanadu topped the Billboard 100 Hot charts.
Wine critic James Halliday says this popular wine stop is rated by visitors to Tasmania as one of the very best wineries on the island. Note vineyard tours are available by appointment only.
And in Cranbrook, Spring Vale is pouring out some classics like Pinots, chardonnays and sauvignon blancs. The small family run winery has some unique history too. The winery has an original convict built stable which is now the cellar door that is often used as the backdrop for wine tastings.
5-Southern Wine Route
You don’t have to go far for wine samplings. Once you arrive in Hobart, you’ll discover vineyards are nearby. Only 15km from Tasmania’s capital visit Coal Valley Vineyard, a five-hectare family run winery that overlooks the Coal River estuary, is renowned for its superior wines.
Then later head south to the sleepy little island settlement of Lunawanna on Bruny Island and make a stop at Bruny Island Wines. You have just reached Australia’s southernmost vineyard. Take a winery tour and don’t forget to try the wine tastings big on Pinot Noir and chardonnay.
No matter which way you swirl your glass, whether you’re saying “Bottoms up” or “Down the hatch” or that good old fashioned word, “Cheers” the wine-tasting experience is like no other in Tasmania.
Ilona Kauremszky is an award-winning writer who loves a good drop.