Australia’s island state punches above its weight with its world-class cool-climate wines.
While formerly considered a single wine region, Tasmania comprises seven sub-regions, each producing styles that reflect their particular terroir. The riches of the North West, Tamar Valley, Pipers River (North East), East Coast, Derwent Valley, Huon Valley (D’Entrecasteaux Channel) and Coal River Valley can be accessed easily via four main wine itineraries – the Tamar Valley Wine Route and the Southern, East Coast and North West Wine Trails.
The oldest and most expansive, the Tamar Valley region stretches north from Launceston airport. Here, you’ll discover elegant sparkling, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc at larger cellar doors including Josef Chromy and Tamar Ridge, as well as smaller wineries, such as Holm Oak.
Home to the state’s awe-inspiring Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, the North West is Tasmania’s most recently identified sub-region. Here, a handful of boutique producers are beginning to make their mark, following the lead of Tasmania’s prize-winning 666 Vodka distillery at Cape Grim, where the air and water quality are considered the purest on Earth.
North-east of Launceston, winemaker Andrew Pirie was first to put the Pipers River region on the map in the early 1970s at his Pipers Brook vineyard. The climate echoes that of France’s Champagne region, and it’s here that famous producers Jansz, Bay of Fires and Arras produce their superb sparkling wines, alongside smaller vineyards including Clover Hill.
Stretching south from Bicheno to the Tasman Peninsula, the East Coast region produces arguably some of Tasmania’s finest pinot noirs and show-stopping rieslings at wineries such as Freycinet, Spring Vale and Bream Creek.
North of Hobart, winding towards New Norfolk along the Derwent Valley, Moorilla Estate and its landmark Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) make a spectacular contrast to nearby biodynamic producer Stefano Lubiana’s charming, rustic cellar door.
Close to Hobart, Coal River Valley boasts smaller producers, including Frogmore Creek, whose restaurant showcases organic produce against a backdrop of vineyard and water views. Further south, in the Huon Valley, discover boutique producers making lush pinot noirs as well as impressive fortified fruit ports and liqueurs, too. Pop in to the Huon Valley Visitor Centre for a wine and cider trail map.
Tasmania also boasts a vast array of distilleries, including one of the island’s first, Sullivans Cove, in Hobart, and Launceston’s Abel Gin, created by winemaker Natalie Fryar. Craft-beer lovers are spoiled for choice, but also shouldn’t miss the tours and “beer schools” at Hobart’s Cascade Brewery, Australia’s first.
New meets old at MACq 01, Hobart’s waterfront hotel themed around the island’s historic characters. Be they Colourful and Quirky or Hearty and Resilient, the relaxed yet luxe interiors showcase the finest Tasmanian raw materials. Dine in at Old Wharf restaurant, where local seafood is the hero.
Cradled in the Freycinet National Park and crowned by the pink-granite Hazards mountain range, Freycinet Lodge offers all kinds of accommodation. Top billing goes to its new Coastal Pavilions, some with views over Great Oyster Bay – just the spot to savour fine pinot noir after exploring wineries.
The brainchild of design team Heather and Jack Birrell, this boutique collection of self-contained suites resides in Launceston’s Hatherley House, a heritage-listed 1830s Italianate mansion. Think artful design and quiet, contemporary luxury in a garden setting. There’s also a two-bedroom dwelling in the heart of the city.
A Launceston stalwart, Stillwater remains the best of all worlds: a welcoming dining room in an historic flour mill on the Tamar River; chef Craig Will’s refined seasonal menu with modern flourishes; local produce, and an award-winning wine list featuring Tasmania’s finest. Lovely for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
A worthy detour from Hobart to Lachlan in the Derwent Valley, this ode to the slow food movement is an offshoot of Rodney Dunn’s and Severine Demanet’s acclaimed farm and cooking school in nearby New Norfolk. Winning universal accolades for its inventive seasonal menus and local wines.
Aløft’s menu is unabashedly inspired by its locale – think seasonal, local, small-batch produce – as well as the modern, pan-Asian sensibilities. Views over the harbour from this Scandi-styled eyrie atop Brooke Street Pier are as dazzling as the food, backed up by an eclectic wine list.
Its new Hobart-waterfront venue, The Lounge, won GT Wine’s Best Cellar Door 2018, but Frogmore Creek’s Coal River base is also a must-visit to sample these cool-climate wines, as well as the 42 Degrees South wines.
Star Wine: Frogmore Creek Méthode Traditionelle Sparkling Cuvée
On the north coast, Pipers Brook showcases its range of outstanding cool-climate wines, as well as Ninth Island and Kreglinger Wine Estates, and its range of Sheerwater bubbles, created by sparkling winemaker Natalie Fryar at an award-winning cellar door.
Star Wine: Sheerwater Sparkling Rosé NV
In this corner of north-east Tasmania dubbed locally as “sparkling Tasmania”, Jansz makes its renwned wines using the cheekily labelled “méthode Tasmanoise”. Settle in at the lakeside Wine Room and sample Pipers River bubbles that compare favourably with the best in the world.
Star Wine: Jansz Premium Cuvée NV