Tasmania's Wine Regions
Technically speaking, Tasmania is Australia’s only single state-wine region. Its 230 individual vineyards are located in seven sub-regions or wine growing areas, with prospective vineyard sites across the island continuing to be explored.
While its wine history dates back as far as 1823, it wasn’t until the early 1970s that the industry began to flourish and it now produces elegant cool climate wines that are world class including Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris with smaller plantings of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
And that’s not all, Tasmania now stands tall amongst the greatest Sparkling producers on earth with its regions considered as some of Australia’s most sought after when it comes to grapes for Sparkling wines.
Given Tasmania’s latitude, it’s not surprising that all of its regions are classified as cool climate. The island of Tasmania experiences a moderate maritime climate that is cooled by prevailing westerly winds off the Southern Ocean with mild spring and summer temperatures, long autumn days and cool nights, that ripen the grapes slowly providing elegance and intensity of flavour and natural balance. According to Wine Australia, Tasmania generally receives 40% of its annual rainfall (approx. 477mm) during the growing season and experiences a mean temperature in January of around 15.6 °C. Although there are always variations, harvest generally takes place in March and April followed by pruning over winter, then budburst in September that kicks off the growing season again.
When it comes to landscape, Tasmania is dominated by dolerite-capped mountains that protect the wine regions from high winds and rainfall. Vineyard plantings can be found up to 1264m, while on the lower slopes, the soils are formed from ancient sandstones, plus river sediments and volcanic rocks.
According to Wine Tasmania’s Technical Officer Paul Smart, Tasmania now produces 1% of Australia’s total wine grapes by volume and around 4.2% of our wine grape value. “In 2019 around 17,180 tonnes of wine grapes were harvested, which roughly equates to 1.24 million cases (dozens),” he said.
A growing concern is the effects of climate change upon Australia’s wine industry, which means Tasmania’s stable cool climate is attracting more winemakers, viticulturists and producers from around the country. In fact, in the last two years, the area planted to vines has grown by about 20% and there is now over 2,000ha under vines.
And with a total land area of just 68,401 km², no matter where you venture in Tasmania, you’re only a stone’s throw from the stunning countryside, spectacular vineyards and inviting cellars doors of the island’s states seven wine regions.
Discover Tasmania's Seven Wine Regions
The regions are listed in order of percentage of production from highest to lowest.
Tamar Valley is Tasmania’s oldest sub-region. Situated in the north of the island and at a latitude of around 42°S, it shares similar cool climate characteristics experienced in the Cote d’Or, Burgundy, France.
The region stretches from Relbia, near Launceston Airport, to northwards past Launceston on both sides to the Tamar River and producers 31.7% of Tasmania’s wine. The soils are incredibly fertile with high-yielding vineyards producing world-class Sparkling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and of course, Pinot Noir.
Tamar Valley is home to: Josef Chromy Wines, Pipers Brook, Relbia, Jansz, Tamar Ridge, Stony Rise, Velvo Wines, Holm Oak, Grey Sands, Goaty Hill, Moores Hill, Native Point, Humbug Reach, Three Wishes, Marion's Vineyard and Winter Brook.
COAL RIVER VALLEY
The Coal River Valley sub-region accounts for 25.1% of Tasmania’s wine production and is located 25 kms north east of Hobart between Cambridge and north of Colebrook. It is one of the most southerly growing regions in Australia with a cool and dry climate and very few days over 35 degrees.
Situated in the rolling hills of the upper Coal River Valley, Nocton Vineyard was planted in 1999, making it among the valley’s oldest. It consists of over 34 hectares of ‘winemaking nirvana’, where rich dolerite-based soils and Triassic sandstone subsoil harmonises with pristine air and pure water for sublime growing conditions. Nocton produces a large array of cool climate wines that convey the terroir marvellously, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sparkling. They’re even pioneering cool climate Merlot.
Also in this area, just on the outskirts of the colonial Georgian town of Richmond, is Pooley Wines. Established around a magnificent sandstone Georgian home, the steep, rocky slopes at Pooley provide the foundations for some of Tasmania’s most celebrated wines.
Winemaker Anna Pooley believes the unique climate and a growing emphasis on site expression are seeing wines of great flavour depth and robust structure being produced. She talks enthusiastically about the varieties Tasmania is famous for and those beginning to shine.
“I’ll never stop being excited about Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling. However, Syrah (Shiraz) is proving to be an excellent variety on the warmer sites and presents a richer style of red compared to the elegant Pinots coming out of the south.”
Coal River Valley is home to: Domaine A Stoney Vineyard, Frogmore Creek, Meadowbank, Coal Valley Vineyard, Nocton Vineyard, Pooley Wines, Puddleduck, Morningside, Third Child and Observatory Hill.
The East Coast wine sub-region stretches from Bicheno to the Tasman Peninsula and produces around 18.4% of the state’s wine.
One of the sub-region’s best-know labels, Devil’s Corner embraces its wild east coast remoteness with a passion to produce award-winning cool climate wines of unmistakeable character, from Riesling to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and more, as well as an esteemed range of Pinot Noirs.
“In our wild corner of Tasmania, we are at the mercy of nature,” says Devil’s Corner Winemaker, Tom Wallace. “Here, the difference of a second, minute, hour or day, can mean the difference between greatness and devastation. Our team have learnt not to fight the elements, but to harness them in order to make the highest quality cool climate wines.”
East Coast is home to: Freycinet Vineyard, Spring Vale, Milton Vineyard, Gala Estate, Devil’s Corner, Darlington Vineyard, Bream Creek, Cape Bernier and Sugarloaf Ridge.
Located in the north-east of Launceston on the Georgetown to Bridport road, the Pipers River sub-region produces 16.8% of Tasmania’s wine. It experiences a climate similar to that of France’s famous Champagne region and specialises in Sparkling wines.
Andrew Pirie pioneered the region with the establishment of Pipers Brook Vineyard in 1974.
The unique combination of geography, temperate climate and proximity to Bass Strait helps to capture the purity of Tasmania across their range of award-winning wines, with particular emphasis given to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling along with Sparkling.
Also located in the area, Bay of Fires cellar door is home to three premium wine labels – House of Arras, Bay of Fires and Eddystone Point. Each label focusses on different winemaking philosophies and styles, but they all reflect the unique Tasmanian terroir of their surroundings. A collaborative venture founded in 1990 by a team of passionate winemakers and viticulturists sharing a common dream, Bay of Fires presents alluring wines that are distinctly Tasmanian – handpicked, and specially selected for quality and character.
Pipers River is home to: Pipers Brook, Bay of Fires, House of Arras, Eddystone Point, Jansz Tasting Room, Delamere, Sinapius and Leaning Church.
The Derwent Valley sub-region is situated between Hamilton and Hobart and produces 5.1% of the state’s wine.
One winemaker who knows a thing or two about Tasmania’s wine scene is Derwent Estate’s John Schuts. Before joining the vineyard in 2014, John was a contract winemaker with Winemaking Tasmania for 11 years, producing wine for many of the state’s smaller, and some larger, vineyards, including up to 35 Pinot Noirs annually. This has allowed him to see what really works in Tasmania and eventually drew him to invest in the picturesque vineyard on the banks of the Derwent River.
John says Derwent Estate’s site mirrors many of the conditions found in Burgundy, where he completed a vintage in 2007. “The vineyards are set along one steep north-east facing slope, around a series of moraines and on a base of red loam over limestone, all facing a narrowing section of the Derwent River,” he explains.
Derwent Valley is home to: Derwent Estate, Moorilla Estate, Stefano Lubiana and Kinvarra.
NORTH WEST/CRADLE COAST
Travel just 15 minutes south from Devonport, one hour from Launceston and a little over an hour from Cradle Mountain and you’ll find the North West/Cradle Coast.
The west coast has a distinct seasonal cycle with the highest rainfalls in winter and early spring, while in the north, the peak of the rainfall cycle occurs through autumn to winter. The soils of the sub-region are rich in calcium, lime and loam.
North West/Cradle Coast is home to: Barringwood, Ghost Rock and Lake Barrington Estate.
Huon/Southern is by far the smallest of Tasmania’s wine producing sub-regions, accounting for just 0.4% of total wine production. It’s located between Kinston and Southport and takes in the Huon Valley.
Located in the Huon Valley at Glaziers Bay, Jim Chatto’s Isle Vineyard produces extremely small-batches of exceptional Pinot Noir. “We spent six years searching for the perfect vineyard,” Jim explains. “It’s warm and well-drained but in a very cool region and is right on the edge of viticultural possibility.”
Also at Glaziers Bay, Panorama Vineyards grows grapes for several mainland producers and also has a wide range of varieties. Outside of Huonville, there are several boutique wineries including Home Hill which produces superbly textured Pinot Noir.
Huon/Southern is home to: Isle Vineyard, Panorama Vineyard, Home Hill and several other very small producers.
Experience Tasmania’s excellent regional wines today!