What makes Tasmania wines so special.
The Soil, the climate, the people. I believe all these answer.
Tasmania can claim to have founded both the Victorian and South Australian wine industries.
Wine was being commercially made and sold in Tasmania several years before vines were planted in either of those states, and it was the source of the first vines for 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.
Tasmania is Australia's most mountainous state, with multiple mountain ranges criss-crossing the centre of the island. The highest point is Mount Ossa in the north-west, its peak sitting at 5305ft (1620m) above sea level. Most Tasmanian vineyards are located on lower slopes and valleys in the north and east, however, and enjoy a more moderate maritime climate.
The leading grape varieties here are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. All three regions are noted for their sparkling wines. In general, however, Tasmania's choice of grape varieties is closer to those of New Zealand than Australia, reflecting the cool maritime climate: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris. Tasmania's red varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, remain essentially static, far behind the rest. Hardly any Shiraz is grown, further emphasizing the differences between Tasmania and the rest of Australia.
Tasmania has a moderate maritime climate, cooled by prevailing westerly winds off the Southern Ocean, providing conditions free of extremes in temperature. Mild spring and summer temperatures, with warm autumn days and cool nights allow the grapes to ripen slowly on the vine, resulting in maximum varietal flavour development.
The Tasmanian vintage usually begins from mid-March, at the peak of the dry autumn when ripening occurs, to late May before the risk of frost and rain.
Vintage variations are greater in Tasmania than any other Australian region.
The majority of Tasmania’s grapes are grown in:
- the Tamar Valley wine growing area, which produces approximately 40%
- the East Coast wine growing area, which produces approximately 20%
- the North East (Pipers River) wine growing area, which produces approximately 19%
- the Coal River Valley wine growing area, which produces approximately 13%