Where simple and luxurious coexist, Tasmania is where you want to be to put your feet up and experience the little joys of life--with a glass of wine in hand from some of the best vineyards in the country. While these small patches may not compare in size to other vineyards on the mainland, they certainly are heaven to vintners and wine lovers alike. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & George Apostolidis.
As you step out of the airport, the first thing you’ll notice is the refreshing air hitting your cheeks. Yes, Tasmania makes cool the new hot! While the rest of Australia struggles with rising temperatures, this part of the country continues to revel in conditions perfect for growing grapes, which makes for excellent wine.
Welcome to the world of Tasmanian wine, where you’ll be wowed with bursts of colour and flavour.
Thirsty yet? Here are seven reasons to stay in Tasmania: northwest (south of Devonport), Tamar Valley (north of Launceston), Pipers River (on the Georgetown to Bridport road), east coast (Bicheno to the north Sorell to the south), Coal River (between Cambridge and north of Colebrook), Derwent Valley (between Hamilton and Hobart), and southern (between Kingston and Southport).
These make up 7 major winecrafting regions, all around a couple of hours’ drive from the major cities. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Michael Walters Photography.
Put your drinking boots on and get ready to hop like a kangaroo from one winery to another during your stay.
Vineyards, vineyards, and more vineyards! Oh, did we mention vineyards?
Each of Tasmania’s wine regions will beguile you with its unique delights. Wine is, of course, the pièce de résistance, but you will also love the natural icons, eye-popping scenery seemingly straight off a postcard, fresh locally sourced produce - not to mention the crisp, clean air that will make you feel years younger. If you’re up for a drive, the coastal roads are for you. When you get thirsty, stop at the nearest winery...just make sure you have a designated driver or taxi number! When your tummy starts to rumble, keep your eyes peeled for a roadside stall or cafe where you will find authentic farm-to-table food. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.
Of course it’s all about the wine trails! We’re talking about wine and vineyards after all. Tassie is best known for its cool-climate wines, both red and white, and it would be a shame to not visit all the vineyards and sample their wares - or at least try. Satisfy your tastebuds with samplings of Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, and sparkling wines from the best cellar doors. For wine tastings, Tamar Valley is your best friend. Prepare to be charmed out of your boots in the oldest wine-growing regions of Tasmania. If you’re going for volume, make Hobart your base and head south, where you’ll find vineyards a-plenty. Prefer Pinot Noir? Take the east coast route. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Garry Moore.
Fun Fact: Bigwigs like Moët et Chandon and Louis Roederer use Tassie grapes for their sparkling Australian wines.
Visiting a vineyard is not always an in-and-out affair. Many vineyards have their own restaurant, so take your time, relax, and enjoy the food while having a chat with the vintner himself. That is, after all, how we do things in Tassie. If you’re not up for a day of hopping from one cellar to the next, stay at one vineyard or look for any restaurant, and savour whatever’s on the menu. Tasmanian food is as fresh as it comes - from produce plucked from the garden to oysters and scallops hauled from the ocean. Hardcore carnivore? Fear not, for Tassie milk-fed lamb and meat pies abound. And if your palate is eager for adventure, treat it to some wasabi cheese. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Sean Fennessy.
With overflowing wine and heaping plates of food, what else do you need? How about a sight for sore eyes - or, to be more accurate - sights for sore eyes. Rows upon rows of grapevines transport you to what can feel like a fantasy land, but wait...there’s more! As you go from vineyard to vineyard, you’ll want to stop and soak in nature’s beauty. The coastline of Bruny Island will make your jaw drop with long stretches of sandy beaches on one side and stunning rugged cliffs on the other. The D’Entrecasteaux Channel area will feed your quest for inner peace as you leisurely trek to its waterfalls. Wander in the east coast and experience the renowned Great Eastern Drive. Book a room at a B&B, and walk the beaches to your heart’s content. Then eat and drink after you’ve worked up an appetite. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.
When you need to take a breather from vineyard hopping, turn left and try something else. Autumn serves up the Taste of the Huon or Agfest, where you can take all the crispy bites of fresh produce you want. Stock up on endorphins during the Chocolate Winterfest in Latrobe. All over Tasmania, you’ll find weekend markets where you can buy souvenirs - which you just might end up keeping for yourself. Image thanks to Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman.
Are you a comfort queen? Your friendly neighbourhood wine trail tour companies are here to help. They’ll take care of everything so that all you have to do is sit, drink, eat, and sleep - lather, rinse, repeat. Alternatively, be more adventurous and DIY. Choose a major city as a starting point, depending on your desired vineyards and wine trails. Rent a car and scoot around at your leisure - with Google Maps (or your favoured map app) to guide you. And if you do get lost, who cares? You’ll discover just how friendly Tassies are. Or, put your hiking boots on just walk. That’s not for the faint of heart, though--literally.
You might just reel at your options - make a city your homebase and skip to nearby vineyards by day; you can take your pick - from classy, “living it up” hotels to backpackers’ hostels, to alternative accommodations. There’s AirBnB for a cosier touch. Have itchy feet? Rent a campervan and live the nomadic life - if even for just a few days. To satisfy your rustic needs, there are plenty of B&Bs all along the wine trails. Indulge yourself a little with a bottle of wine or two - or three - and stay the night at a vineyard’s villa. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett.
The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the early tasters get the best experience. Avoid the crowds by going on a weekday.
Avoid disappointment and know what you like to drink. If you don’t know, ask! Vintners are experienced in educating guests about the complexities of wine. Don’t be surprised if you get more than you ask for - locals tend to be passionate about this particular topic.
A quick primer on vintages: 2008 and 2013 Pinot Noirs are outstanding; 2012 Chardonnays and Rieslings are excellent; and 2010 reds & whites superb. Image thanks to Harriet Stevens.
Popular isn’t always the best. Take an unplanned turn and visit smaller, lesser-known vineyards, many of which are in the northwest.
If you’re short on time, the Coal River Valley--which has smaller winemakers--is a stone’s throw away from Hobart Airport.
Bring a warm jacket. Tassie can be fickle with its temperatures. From April to October, throw in an extra layer of clothing.