Tasmania is one of the most premium wine regions in Australia. It's also the country's coldest, and produces stellar sparkling, chardonnay and pinot noir. Here are five Tasmanian wineries to visit on your next trip across the strait.
Clover HillThe Clover Hill cellar door is positioned at the top of a natural amphitheatre opening to the sea, surrounded by spectacular architecture and views. Sparkling wine aficionados will be well-versed with Tasmania’s Pipers River region – Australia’s premier sparkling destination. From the prime position in the region at Lebrina, on the hilltop 270 metres above sea level, guests can enjoy the mosaic view of vineyard blocks winding down to the valley, towards Bass Strait and Mount Arthur.
Guests can experience an eclectic collection of traditional method sparkling wines including the Vintage Brut, Vintage Riche, Cuvée Foudre, Exceptionelle Blanc de Blancs, Late Disgorged, and museum releases (many are only available at the cellar door), and stay to enjoy Clover Hill Kitchen’s Tasting Menu created from our gardens, orchards, and local producers to match the complexity of the sparkling wines. Not to mention the incomparable views from the terrace on a fine day or cosy from the lounge through picture windows on wintry days.
On the weekends guests can book the Cellar Door Experience and Tasting Menu – a deluxe, guided tasting of six Clover Hill sparkling wines matched to a four course, progressive menu. Across the menu, classically French trained chef Tanya White uses Nordic and Japanese traditions of pickling, curing, fermentation, the seasonal harvests of the orchards and gardens at Clover Hill, and local Tasmanian produce. The fermentation, acidity, notes of lees in the sparkling wine balance the umami, briny, sweet flavours of the menu.
Located close to Bass Strait and Mount Arthur the 66-hectare single vineyard at Lebrina enjoys a very cool maritime and continental influence. Clover Hill sits on fertile, iron-rich soils over a clay base (weathered volcanic rock ‘ferrosol’ called Red Volcanic Krasnozem with Basalt) formed up to 50 million years ago. The distinctive, golden cradle-shaped site is elevated, with vineyard blocks ranging from 170 to 270 metres altitude, and soft slopes that create a diversity of plots, particularly outstanding for growing chardonnay. Cellar door manager Ian White says the site was first planted in 1986 to grow chardonnay. "Specifically for methode traditionelle sparkling. Chardonnay is the cornerstone of the Clover Hill house style – a distinctive, elegant style full of freshness and energy, minerality, structure, and complexity."
Local favourite spot: The world-renowned Barnbougle Lost Farm Golf Resort, the adventure destination of Blue Derby (including 125 kilometres of wild mountain bike trails).
Henskens Rankin of TasmaniaHenskens Rankin of Tasmania is one of the rare wineries in Australia that specialise in making sparkling wine and only sparkling wine. The brand is also unashamedly tiny, which means the focus is on quality and integrity and showcasing the incredible location of lutruwita Tasmania.
Henskens Rankin is named after founders Frieda Henskens and David Rankin. The name was chosen largely after being advised by a consultant not to (“especially not yours Frieda”), it's now one of the most well-known sparkling labels in Tasmania. Frieda's interest in winemaking started early, at eight years old, on a dairy farm in Aotearoa, New Zealand, treading grapes in her mother’s bread-pan. She poured the juice directly into bottles, but did not cap them securely, so when fermentation started the fizzy mess spilled all over the floor. You could say fizz has always been her thing. David started making wine from fruit growing in the family garden before moving on to make more conventional reds. The two still have that first bottle of plum wine somewhere.
The wines are about where they are grown – they are made to be expressive, dynamic, complex, textural and fresh, age-worthy but mature. Winemaker and owner Frieda says: "We disgorge the wines when we feel that they are at a stage where further aeging on lees will not improve the wine and release them when they are ready to drink – they can undergo further cellaring but it is not necessary." The Vintage Brut is explicitly made to be a vinous snapshot of Tasmania in that year – tiny parcels of fruit are sourced from sustainability-minded growers in different parts of the state.
Nipuluna Hobart sits betwixt mountain, a river with ancient middens, Crimea/World War I fortifications and the great Southern Ocean. Within 30 minutes you can travel from cityscape to wilderness. The thing most reliable is the unreliability (and getting left off maps) and the cool, temperate climate. That all gives Tasmania lutruwita a prolonged ripening season – warm days, cool nights. A dizzyingly array of topography, geology give heat summations and soils of such variation that while gobsmackingly perfect for sparkling wine, can also ripen shiraz.
Local favourite spot: Molto is a wonderfully eclectic wine bar owned by the Lubiana family and curated by sommelier Hedley Monks.
LowestoftThe Lowestoft homestead is one of Tasmania’s oldest, built between 1839 and 1850. The magnificent property is located on the banks of the picturesque Derwent River and overlooks the renowned Mona – Museum of Old and New Art and Moorilla Winery. The Lowestoft vineyard is a small, densely planted (8300 vines per hectare) three hectare vineyard with some of the oldest pinot noir plantings in Tasmania. Originally planted in 1986, the grapes are some of the most sought after in Tasmania. Tastings at the homestead are currently by appointment only.
Winemaker Liam McElhinney says Tasmania seems to be the sweet spot for chardonnay with class, and pinot noir with grace and power. "I have the amazing privilege to make super-expressive, site-specific wines that tell a unique story of vineyard, climate and vintage, as well as multi-regional blends that showcase the best of our broader Tasmanian footprint." Liam says working with such a broad range of sites across all varieties is hugely exciting and rewarding. "Tasmania is currently one G.I, but there is certainly now a case that subregional complexities warrant new appellations be formalised."
Lowestoft produce wines from the Derwent, Coal River and Huon Valleys, while the sites are quite close geographically – the resulting wines are vastly different. "When you throw in the variables of each season here in Southern Tasmania, you really do have to be rather flexible in your winemaking approach in order to get the best results from each site consistently."
The 2020 pinot noirs – the Lowestoft Estate and La Maison – are produced from the Lowestoft Vineyard in Berriedale and another single vineyard expression from the Jacoben Vineyard just north of Lowestoft. Both vineyards are in the Lower Derwent subregion but yield vastly different styles of pinot noir. Being a slightly cooler vintage, the 2020 wines are perfumed with immense concentration and balance.
Local favourite spot: Peppina at the Tasman Hotel. Settle in for a relaxed evening of fine food and wine, you'll never see the menu or the wine list – you simply let Michael Fisher (AKA FISH) and the team know what mood you're in, how long you have and they do the rest.
Mewstone WinesAt the helm of Mewstone Wines are brothers Matthew and Jonny Hughes. Mewstone produces innovative, minimal intervention wines that express tales of time, place and family. Opened in 2021, the modern cellar door is set on the banks of the D’entrecasteaux Channel and is nestled among the Mewstone vines The cellar door boasts expansive views of Bruny Island and kunanyi/Mount Wellington.
Book into the cellar door for thoughtfully curated and guided tastings of Mewstone and Hughes & Hughes wines. Take in the spectacular outlook from the vineyard, over a glass of wine paired with a local produce platter complete with a rotating selection of Tasmanian cheeses, pickles, pastes and sourdough. Dogs are invited, and bookings are highly recommended. The tasting room is open from 11.00am to 4.00pm, tastings are $25 per person and include eight wines.
Winemaker Jonny Hughes says for those new to Mewstone, the 2021 riesling is crisp and lively with a hint of sweetness, reminiscent of lime pie, with a 10-year ageing potential. "For something a little more on the wild side, our Hughes & Hughes Soiree 2022 pétillant naturel, made from riesling, chenin blanc and dornfelder is ideal for a refreshing slurp in the summer sun. It’s bottled unfined, unfiltered and with no added sulphur."
"Our simple approach to winemaking relies on great fruit and attention to detail. Bright, aromatic and so very drinkable, they represent the artisan approach that is at the heart of what makes Tasmania and its wide array of producers so unique," says Jonny.
"We are so grateful for the small, close knit community of Flowerpot who have warmly embraced Mewstone Wines and can often be found enjoying a glass on our deck," says Jonny.
Local favourite spot: You can’t miss Grandvewe and Hartshorn (both on the same property) for cheese and spirits.
Pooley WinesThe Pooley cellar door is located on the outskirts of the historic Richmond township, in the heart of the Coal River Valley. Nestled between Belmont, the Georgian convict-built heritage-listed home, and our vines you will find the tasting room in The Coach House. The cellar door experience is steeped in heritage and history. Visitors can enjoy in-depth structured tastings that speak to Pooley's unique location and passion for their craft. Local cheeses and charcuterie boards are on offer daily, and artisan woodfired pizzas are available on the weekend.
Winemakers Anna Pooley and Justin Bubb say they aim to achieve honesty in every glass. "We nurture our vines from the ground up with thoughtful decision making to best preserve our natural environment. Each wine we produce is made in the pursuit of capturing a sense of place and time. The Coal River Valley is a beautiful though challenging place to grow grapes. Every vintage bringing its own set of challenges. The wines produced show a purity that reflects the natural beauty of Tasmania and truly distils the energy and nature of our sites.”
In 1985 Margaret and Denis Pooley planted ten rows of riesling and seven rows of pinot noir, Anna and Justin say these grapes have remained at the core of Pooley's foundation. The Pooley Riesling is a blend of two unique cool-climate sites owned and operated by the Pooley family in the Coal River Valley.
"Our climate and terroir allows us to explore organic viticulture as a viable option and gives our vines optimal conditions for producing exceptional and expressive wines. We see it as a regional expression of the Coal River Valley and feel the wine best represents our family story and passion for wine."
Local favourite spot: We can’t go past the historic village of Richmond, there's an array of fantastic shop fronts and places to eat. Try Prospect House Private Hotel, an 1830’s heritage listed manor, the dining room offers a five course degustation menu.
Learn more about Tasmania in our essential guide.
This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.
Top image credit: Lowestoft.