Tucked below Mainland Australia is the island state of Tasmania (fondly referred to as “Tassie”), roughly the size of West Virginia. Tasmania is Australia’s coldest state because of its closer proximity to the Polar Zone.
For those worried about Australia’s heat, I can’t promise Tasmania is always freezer-chill. But even in summer, I’d pack a light jacket. Cooled by the westerly winds off the Southern Ocean, the moderate maritime climate is perfect for grape growing, and that’s just one of the reasons Tasmania a great place to take a wine tour.
Fun Fact: Tasmania represents the future of Australian winemaking. Mindful of rising temperatures in traditional wine regions such as the Barossa, Mainland wineries are opening vineyards in Tasmania.
1. Tasmania’s Answer To Champagne
The Pipers River Region is Tasmania’s answer to Champagne. In the 1980s, winemakers from iconic champagne house Louis Roederer scoured the globe looking for the best place to make sparkling wine and chose Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.
Drum roll, please! Tasmania won best sparkling of the year in 2020 against French competitors, and Wine Enthusiast ranks Tasmania as one of the 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations, making this the place for people who love bubbly.
2. More Than 30 Vineyards To Choose From
Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, is edged by wineries. Some are near the airport, where tourists can rent vehicles, including RVs, to lap Tassie. The Coal River Valley, with its 33 vineyards, is only 25 minutes outside Hobart.
Another concentration of wineries is in the Tamar Valley near Launceston. The drive between Hobart and Launceston takes 3 hours.
Pro Tip: Hobart and Launceston both have major airports. Helicopters service several wineries. A car ferry, The Spirit of Tasmania, departs Geelong (near Melbourne, Victoria) and crosses Bass Strait to Tasmania.
3. Gorgeous Scenery
Tasmania is reminiscent of England, with patchworks of green fields, deciduous trees, teahouses, and Georgian-style manors. Drive down country lanes. Winemakers’ dogs mosey out to greet you, and lines of green vines crisscross the view of blue hills. Tasmania’s slogan is “Come Down for Air,” and you’ll appreciate why during your wine tour.
4. Nearby Tourist Attractions
Coal Valley Wineries are close to the much-photographed colonial village of Richmond. Moorilla Estate is next to MONA — a famous avant-garde museum. Combine a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic site with a stop at Bream Creek Vineyard. I particularly enjoyed viticulturist Fred Peacock’s award-winning 2018 Late Picked (Dessert) Schönburger.
Pro Tip: Bream Creek’s new cellar door is due for completion in mid-2023. Till then, tastings and sales are at The Dunalley Waterfront Cafe and Gallery, halfway between Hobart and Port Arthur.
5. Not-To-Miss Food Pairings
A visit to Tasmania is a balancing act: a wine glass in one hand and nibbles in the other. Wrapped by rich oceans and blessed with ample rainfall and a moderate climate, Tasmania produces world-class food. Southern Rock Lobster, Pacific oyster abalone, and Atlantic salmon come from the waters. The lush pastures raise some of Australia’s best beef. Tasmanian dairy products are legendary. Then there’s Leatherwood wild honey and black truffles (known as Périgord truffles in France).
Think Tassie Pinot Noir with slow pulled pork, sparkling with freshly shucked oysters, Chardonnay with Tassie’s juicy scallops, Cabernet Merlot with grass-fed spring lamb, and iced riesling with spiced pear pavlova. Josef Chromy Cellar Door and Frogmore Creek wineries are renowned for their restaurants.
Pro Tip: In Hobart, The Lounge by Frogmore Creek is an elegant bar and restaurant on Hobart’s waterfront.
6. Sustainability Beyond Winemaking
Tasmania is green in more ways than one. The Australian Greens are a national political party that grew from environmental campaigns in Tasmania. Over 20 percent of the land is part of UNESCO’s Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and 40 percent is a national park or reserve.
It’s easy to pick a Taswegian at an airport — the men often had flowing beards, and Tasmanians are known for being passionate about their wilderness hikes. Tasmanian winemakers tend toward permaculture, organics, amphora aging (the process of aging wines in clay), and carbon-neutral trends.
7. Easy-To-Follow Wine Trails
Tasmania has four wine trails. The website Wine Tasmania supplies free online maps and tools. Create an itinerary focusing on sparkling or Pinot Noir. Pinpoint wineries offering restaurants or accommodation, and definitely make time for at least a few of the best wineries and vineyards introduced below.
Best Tasmanian Wineries Near Hobart
I took a 6-day Tassie wine trip with Wine Guild Victoria. These experts know the best wineries to visit; as a novice, I got to sip and enjoy. I’m thankful to the organizers, Graeme Lofts, author of Heart and Soul: Australia’s First Families of Wine, and his wife, Dianne, who circled Tasmania twice researching the itinerary.
Their choices for my stand-alone tour showcased Tasmania’s distinctive wines and provided variety. Each winery was different because of its colonial history, modern architecture, or stunning grounds. Below I outline the stops on our itinerary, beginning with the wineries nearest Hobart.
Riversdale Estate, Cambridge
Riversdale Estate screams “Vive la France,” with its French bistro, European decor, a French Orangery serving silver-service high teas, and French Provincial accommodation. The English may have settled the region, but the French came first. In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned Pierre Faure aboard the Naturaliste, and he was the first European into Pittwater, landing on the shores near present-day Riversdale. The winery builds on these French origins with a French winemaker and a $7 million winery harnessing innovative French technology.
Book a formal free tasting before a sea of regally monogrammed glasses. Large windows showcase the Pittwater waterfront. Wines reflect the unique terroir of the location
Must-Try Wines At Riversdale: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon
Puddleduck Vineyard, Richmond
Darren and Jackie Brown established their boutique family-owned winery in 1997. The seated tastings are relaxed in a room jutting over their duck pond. Their Ducky Duck Shop stocks everything ducky.
As we sipped our wines of choice, a flotilla of fluffy ducklings passed below right on cue. BYO picnics and nestle in.
Must-Try Wines At Puddleduck: Fumé Blanc, Pinot Noir, and flagship Bubbleduck — made from a blend of 60 percent Pinot Noir and 40 percent Chardonnay
Every Man & His Dog Vineyard, Richmond
Maurice and Helen Curtis, the owners of Federation Chocolate, purchased this vineyard in 2021. Their friendliness and good humor make for outstanding hosts. They pair artisan chocolates with wine — a match made in heaven. Tasked with nibbling hand-crafted chocolates while sipping, there was silence from our usually rowdy group. No one spat the wine as doing so would mean not finishing the chocolate. Book ahead for chocolate matching.
Must-Try Wines At Every Man & His Dog: Cool climate Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Unwooded Chardonnay
Frogmore Creek, Cambridge
Frogmore Creek is the largest ultra-premium cool-climate winery in Southern Tasmania. The blue-timber Hampton-style architecture overlooks the Coal River Valley, and the estate is home to the Frogmore Creek and 42 Degrees South wine labels. Enjoy intimate tastings at the Cellar Door or wine flights over lunch.
Must-Try Wine At Frogmore Creek: Iced Riesling with the Lavender Field dessert — blueberry panna cotta, violet sponge, shortbread crumb, lavender ice cream, and candied violet
Derwent Estate, Granton
Stop at Derwent Estate for a tasting in the convict-built Rathbone Cottage (circa 1820). Sit by the fire or on the verandah overlooking the Derwent River. Stroll the beautiful grounds. Tasmania has distinct subregions, including the Derwent Valley, where this vineyard has a calcareous soil type similar to places like Champagne, the Loire, and Burgundy.
The estate’s straw bale and lime structure is perfect for maturing wines in barrels. The on-site Shed Restaurant’s menu includes wallaby loin, stone ground beer bread with nasturtium butter, whipped coconut cream, poached rhubarb, and fennel syrup cake.
Must-Try Wines At Derwent: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Best Tasmanian Wineries Near Launceston
We shifted camp, relocating from Hobart to Launceston, a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the Pipers River area, which is considered second only to France’s Champagne region when it comes to the production of sparkling wine.
Bay Of Fires Wines, Pipers River
Bay of Fires Wines shares its cellar door with the prestigious House of Arras, Australia’s most-awarded wine brand, and affordable-but-quality Eddystone Point. A House of Arras sparkling was named the world’s best in 2020. The winery offers extensive masterclasses and experiences for serious sparkling lovers.
Must-Try Wine At Bay Of Fires: Anything sparkling
Jansz Tasmania, Pipers Brook
In 1989 Heemskerk and the French Champagne house Roederer introduced the renowned sparkling “Jansz,” becoming Tasmania’s first to use Méthode Traditionnelle, whereby wine undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle. Visit the ivy-clad tasting room. Outside benches and tables have views over a lake.
Must-Try Wine (And Bites) At Jansz Tasmania: Wine-tasting floats and platters on the lawn (I can’t speak highly enough of the Bruny Island cheeses they offer. They live on in my memory.)
Pipers Brook Vineyard, Pipers Brook
Established in 1974, Pipers Brook is a pioneer of the Tasmanian wine industry. They produce the acclaimed Kreglinger Vintage, Pipers Brook, and Ninth Island wines.
Nadine’s Cafe at Pipers Brook offers self-guided tastings that match Tasmanian produce with estate-grown wines. In a region famous for its food platters, Nadine’s takes the cake. It takes the cake and everything else and bundles them onto a platter. Think mountains of hot and cold food prepared in-house, duck rolls; rice balls; stuffed mushrooms, gourmet cheeses; prawns; smoked salmon; quince paste; a Pinot-soaked whole pear, and a chocolate fudge-style cake with raspberries.
Must-Try Wines At Pipers Brook: World-class sparkling wines, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc
Clover Hill, Lebrina
Clover Hill Wines is poised over a valley offering breathtaking views; the modern rammed-earth building shaped like a clover. Enjoy wines fit for royalty, enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth at Government House in Canberra, and served at Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary’s Royal Wedding.
Must-Try Wines (And Bites) At Clover Hill: The Small Plate Tasting Menu lunch, a seated tasting of 6 Clover Hill sparkling wines (reservations required), plus a glass of Clover Hill Vintage Brut or Vintage Riché
Josef Chromy Wines, Relbia
Josef Chromy Wines and Restaurant was named Northern Tasmania’s Best Large Cellar Door in 2021. Tastings are in the original 1880s homestead, surrounded by century-old gardens. Roses trail down to an idyllic lake with waterside gazebos. Enjoy the chef-hatted restaurant. Or pre-book a gourmet hamper and bottle of wine to relax on the grounds.
Must-Try Wines At Josef Chromy: Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Botrytis Riesling, and Ruby Pinot Port in addition to the renowned Tasmanian traditional method sparkling
Tamar Ridge, Rosevears
The Brown Family Wine Group (previously Brown Brothers) purchased Tamar Ridge in 2010 to expand into Tasmania. These vineyards account for 20 percent of Tasmania’s wine production. Turner Stillhouse shares the grounds and offers tastings of Three Cuts Gin.
Must-Try Wines At Tamar Ridge: Cool-climate Pinot Noir alongside Pirie Sparkling and cool-climate white varietals (though with gin on the scene, I must admit my loyalties were divided!)
- The Lufra at Eaglehawk Neck for seafood with views over the wild Tasman Sea
- Old Kempton Distillery for colonial history and award-winning single-malt whisky
- Huntington Tavern for country fare and fine ales
- Alida Restaurant, inside Penny Royal, for excellent cocktails and Tasmanian dishes
- A visit to Cataract Gorge — perfect for walking off the excess calories
For more on Tasmania, consider The One Place You Don’t Have On Your Australia Travel Itinerary, But Definitely Should.