A dry guide to Tasmanian wine country
To limit yourself to wine tastings is to overlook half the pleasure of Tasmania’s beautiful wine regions. Beaches edge, east coast vineyards, and hills and bushland frame wineries in the north and south. Whether you want to broaden a wine weekend, or have volunteered as designated driver, tastings can be just an aperitif to other experiences.
Tamar Valley and Relbia
The state’s headline wine region contains more than 30 cellar doors and untold ways to vary a visit. Food is as much a drawcard as wine at Josef Chromy Wines. Indulge in the two or three-course lunch menu at its Hatted restaurant, but it’s beyond the walls that things get most interesting at this Relbia winery. Take a two-hour guided bike ride through the vineyard on weekends, join a Yoga in the Vines class, or learn to fly fish on the property.
Take a Tamar Valley visit to literally new heights on a Vineyard Trifecta helicopter tour with Unique Charters. Taking off from Clover Hill Wines (after indulging in a selection of cheeses), the flight stops at two other wineries, soaking up high-in-the-sky Tamar views in between.
Combine a cellar-door visit with a cooking class at Hinton Bay Vineyard, where the attached Hinton Bay Kitchen offers a range of lessons, from Italian vegan cooking to preparing and making dolmades.
Add a stroll to a sip at Bay of Fires Wines, which adjoins a 180-metre-long boardwalk to Pipers River, where there’s always a chance of spying platypuses or trout. Kids will love Holm Oak Vineyards, where they can grab apples and feed the winery’s so-called general manager, Pinot d’Pig, and his porcine offsiders, Pinot Junior and Mayo. The vineyard also has a sensory garden and forest trails to wander.
In between wineries, there are myriad non-alcoholic attractions around the Tamar. Take to the treetops at Hollybank Wilderness Adventures, amble into Lilydale Falls, mingle with wildlife at side-by-side Seahorse World and Platypus House in Beauty Point, and shop for fine ceramics at Artisan Pottery in Robigana.
Round out the day with a glamping stay at Domescapes Tasmania, with its luxury geodesic domes – think king beds, ensuites, star-gazing windows, and outdoor baths – set among the vines at Swinging Gate Vineyard.
There’s something for everyone, including the pooch, amid southern wineries. In the Coal River Valley, Wobbly Boot Vineyard bills itself as Australia’s most dog-friendly winery and features three off-lead areas: one apiece for larger dogs, smaller dogs and older dogs. Rabbits are more the focus at Riversdale Estate, where childhood nostalgia abounds in the Peter Rabbit Garden. The estate is also the place for a spot of high tea in the Orangery.
Neighbouring Frogmore Creek Winery was one of the champions of Tasmania’s gourmet revolution, and its restaurant remains a destination venue. It’s also worth heading upstairs to view Flawed History of Tasmanian Wine, an inlaid wooden floor mural by Tasmanian artist Tom Samek.
Art comes further into its own among the vines at Moorilla, the winery better known as the site for MONA. Moorilla Winery’s cellar door sits atop the gallery complex – head underground for the art and overground for the wine.
Combine a Sunday cellar-door visit to the Coal River Valley with the Richmond Village Market and a requisite look at Richmond Bridge, Australia’s oldest large stone arch bridge.
Quality eating options among the southern wineries include Coal River Farm, wood-fired pizzas at historic Pooley Wines, and the Port Cygnet Cannery, sharing space inside a historic apple cannery with the new Sailor Seeks Horse cellar door.
Place yourself at the heart of wine country with a stay at Prospect House, an 1830 Georgian manor, immediately opposite Pooley Wines.
The east coast
Tassie’s sunny side features a smaller cluster of vineyards, but the dry options are just as enticing. On this coastline appropriately anchored by Wineglass Bay, it’s the Freycinet views from the observation tower at Devil’s Corner that’ll have your head spinning (with renovations set to make the cellar door even more impressive). With its cellar door inside an 1842 convict-built stone stable, Spring Vale Vineyard is worth a visit for its history alone.
Just up the highway, Freycinet Vineyard also offers tastings of its own extra-virgin olive oil. To the south, the Sunday sessions at Cape Bernier Vineyard add music and cheese to the wines, while the seventh-generation Bangor – home to the Bangor Vineyard Shed – is a property as flavoured with history as grapes. Explore sites such as Abel Tasman’s only Tasmanian shore landing, and the first place of contact between palawa and Europeans, on a guided bike ride across the property with Tasmanian eBike Adventures.
Find a home among the east-coast vines at Lisdillon, a working sheep farm and vineyard south of Swansea with four cottages near a private beach.