Tasmanians work hard. We grow, distil, ferment, shear, harvest and create. We learn from diversity and grow through adversity, and here on the East Coast, we’re no different.
There is something about fresh sea air that increases an appetite, which is incredibly fortuitous given how many delicacies there are to enjoy. It would be fair to say we have some of the freshest air, cleanest water and richest soil you’ll find in the world. In short, we grow good things.
It seems a new vineyard is planted every year on the East Coast of Tassie, (and we couldn’t be happier about it), and dotted in between are farm gates and boutique producers, some of whom don’t have a shop front so keep your eyes peeled for these products along the way to make sure you enjoy every taste the coast has to offer.
Come on a journey with us…
Orford – Little Swanport
We are taking you on a journey from south to north starting in Orford with Spring Bay Distillery who use premium Tasmanian barley and arguably the best water in the word – East Coast Tasmania rainwater. Darlington Vineyard, yielding between 7 and 10 tonne of fruit each year in the varieties of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. The vines are now just over 20 years old and producing award winning wines.
A little further on and you will find Boomer Creek at Little Swanport. A family owned sheep and cattle farm with an olive grove and a small vineyard, the cellar door opened late 2020 and is a cleverly designed space with a beautiful outlook. Serving snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, everyone is well catered for. Just nearby, Long Name Farm farms free range rare and heritage breed pigs. They supply restaurants and direct to the public, and you’ll find them at Hobart Farmers Market on the 3rd Sunday of every month.
Kelvedon Estate is another vineyard with a view, we really have some happy vines in Tasmania. Traditionally a fine wool and sheep and cattle farm, the owners expanded successfully into Viticulture in 1998. Now, with over 9 hectares of vines, half is sold for use in the production of House of Arras range, the other half is used to create their own signature label.
Little Swanport – Bicheno
Tasman Sea Salt – Have you ever tasted Tasman Sea Salt? It quite literally tastes like your favourite day at the beach. Harvested naturally from the waters of Great Oyster Bay, and without interference of any kind, this salt is like catnip for Tasmanians, especially the East Coast locals. The ultimate cure for homesickness, this salt literally tastes like home. Speaking of homely tastes, keep your eyes peeled for Wild Hives Honey – pure, raw and Tasmanian. Apiarist Rob Barker is properly passionate about his honey, and his bees. You will find his products in a number of stores along the coast and you can occasionally find him at Saffire Freycinet sharing his beekeeping expertise. (Artifakt Gallery and Cafe in Swansea are stockists)
Before you reach Swansea, you will find “Just Desserts Café” at Kates Berry Farm, one of the most popular stops along the Tasman Highway, mouth-watering ice creams and chocolates featuring all the goodness of fresh berries.
Just north of Swansea is where you will find several vineyards in close proximity, along with Melshell Oysters, who have been operating for 3 generations over almost 40 years. The Oyster Shack is currently closed for renovation until November 2021 and once open, will be full of quirky, fun filled goodness, and it is quickly becoming an icon of the coast. Take a short drive into Dolphin Sands, taste oysters as fresh as they get, and enjoy the view.
Milton Vineyard cellar door is full of character and looks directly out onto picture perfect vines sloping gently away into the horizon. Originally a sheep farm, the property now produces Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer. Soon after on the right Spring Vale Wines, most well known for it’s spectacular Gewurztraminer, is one of the longest running vineyards on the coast. The Cellar Door is set up in a heritage listed stable built in 1842, and everywhere you look is another intriguing piece of story. Super tasty offerings from Mels Kitchen complement their delightful selection of wines and our insider tip: if they’re in bloom, be sure to smell the roses.
The tiny hamlet of Cranbrook hosts two vineyards and cellar doors; on the main road is Gala Estate – 200 years and 7 generations on the land means that these guys really know how to look after their vines. Originally sheep and feed grain farmers, the family moved into grapes as a way to help replenish the land and they haven’t looked back. The vineyard is quite young, but the number of awards is proof that they are producing premium vines. You will not regret a tasting at Gala. Be sure to book ahead and while you’re there, grab yourself a blanket. They are still farming sheep and producing world class, ethically farmed wool.
If you take the road just opposite Gala, a short distance in is Craigie Knowe Vineyard, home to some of the first vines planted on the coast, originally planted by retired dentist John Austwick, the vineyard is now owned and operated by the Travers family. The wine is exceptional and the cellar door is a regular crowd pleaser with weekend events a regular affair. Music, food, bespoke, locally brewed beer and spectacular wines make for an incredibly wonderful afternoon. (Don’t miss the wine and chocolate pairing!)
Devil’s Corner is currently undergoing a major upgrade which will include a new event space, but is operating a temporary cellar door ‘The Little Devil’. The vineyard is proudly owned by the Brown Brothers group. The location is breathtaking and boasts one of the most iconic views on the coast from the cellar door; across the vineyard with Great Oyster Bay and the Hazards Mountains Range in the background. Devil’s Corner regularly hosts local and travelling musicians.
Freycinet Vineyard, the first commercial vineyard established on the coast (1979), is a must see for wine lovers visiting the region. Winemakers Claudio Radenti and Lindy Bull are hands on from beginning to end; innovative and thoughtful makers, the standard of the wines produced at Freycinet Vineyard are exceptional and not to be missed. It’s a special treat to listen to Claudio talk about their wines and winemaking. (While you’re there, check out the Freycinet Oil)
A boutique brewery in Coles Bay, Malting Lagoon Brewery, is quickly growing in popularity. With beers on tap in Hobart, Launceston and locally at the Iluka Tavern and Pete’s Big Eats. If you’d like to meet the brewer you can book a personal tasting when staying at Malting Lagoon Guest House. Also near Coles Bay is Freycinet Marine Farm selling oysters and mussels straight from the farm at a hugely popular farm gate café. Tours are available through Oyster Bay Tours – a signature experience offering you the opportunity to taste the oysters straight from the water.
Moving along to Bicheno we have Apsley Gorge Vineyard, established by former abalone diver Brian Franklin in the early 1990’s. The vineyard is farmed as low yield, and non-irrigated to maintain the stability of the fruit. Hand pruned, this is a winemaker that truly understands the value of the grapes. Brian took over the winemaking in the late 1990’s in traditional French style, honed originally with Phillipe Charlopin, one of Burgundy’s most notable winemakers.
Overtime Vineyard is part of the Apsley Gorge family with Jacob Andersen as Vineyard Manager and Winemaker. Nick and his brother grew up on the Apsley Gorge Vineyard with their father Nick, who worked the original vineyard alongside Brian.
If the timing doesn’t work to be able to catch a vineyard’s cellar door, The Farm Shed East Coast Wine Centre in Bicheno is your one stop shop for all things fermented, brewed, or distilled on Tasmania’s East Coast. Book in for a tasting, or just stop by. Their collection is extensive and local knowledge unrivalled.
Bicheno to St Helens
Almost exactly in between St Helens and Bicheno at Iron House Point is Iron House Vineyard and Distillery at White Sands Estate (about 30 minutes drive from each). With a private headland, private beach and its own jetty, the location is pretty idyllic. A family business, Iron House are creating some incredibly popular beverages in the form of wine, beer, brandy, gin, vodka and whisky.
East Coast Village Providore is your go to for anything you’d like to find on the coast. Gary and Kate specialise in stocking the very best of everything, with particular attention to local East Coast produce. They work closely with neighbouring Japanese restaurant RAIDA to make sure anything you taste can be purchased and prepared at home. (And Kate makes the best gluten free cakes ever!)
Our northernmost vineyard is Priory Ridge. Located 3 km’s north of St Helens, the property has been in the same family for over 120 years. Formerly a sheep farm, the cellar door is located in a shearing shed complete with toasty fireplace. Owners Julie and David are incredibly welcoming and helpful. A cosy, captivating and tasty pause in your day.
Pyengana Dairy and premium meats are long time favourites. Premium meats, world class cheeses, extraordinary dairy, and a café to enjoy it all. You will find Pyengana products along the coast but you can also go directly to the café in Pyengana, (a beautiful scenic drive). Drive just a little further and visit the Pub in the Paddock.
Get your swirl on at the Great Eastern Wine Week!
Each year the Great Eastern Wine Week showcases much of what we’ve introduced you to in this blog, lots of magical matching happens. Learn to cook with Wild Abundance at Twamley Farm, Sip and shuck in the vines at Gala Estate, Mingle with the Makers at Iron House Point. Treat yourself to a wine matched degustation dinner at Furneaux Restaurant or checkout the newest Restaurant addition in St Helens, RAIDA, for a food and wine pairing.
In Tasmania, we know where our food comes from. We shop at farmers markets and farm gates. We buy local, but that’s not the norm in other parts of the world. Being able to taste an oyster pulled straight from the river is about as honest as it gets. No hard sell required. We look forward to sharing it all with you.