In 2013 a Tasmanian chardonnay was rated the best wine in its class in the world. A year later a Tasmanian single-malt whisky was judged the best single-malt in the world. These achievements – both at respected international events in London – reflect the quality of the ingredients and the passion of the people in beverage production in Tasmania.
As well as award-winning chardonnays, Tasmania boasts the finest sparkling wine in the southern hemisphere, and is referred to as Australia's “Little Champagne”. It is Australia’s oldest productive wine region and its pinot noir is unrivalled nationally, with renowned commentators referring to the island as the epicentre of Australia for pinot noir. Pinot noir represents close to half of all vines, followed by chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot gris.
The wine sector in Tasmania is very small on the world scale, and for very good reason: Tasmanian wine is an expression of “place”, the careful selection and planting of land to vines that provides consistent, very high quality and sustainable production. Varietal expression is integral to Tasmanian wines, yet there is also something else, a deeper sense that the wine comes from a special place, an ancient and beautiful and unique landscape that makes the Tasmanian wine experience special as well.
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. This is achieved without losing that essential natural acidity that gives wine both freshness and balance. The Tasmanian landscape is dominated by dolerite-capped mountains that shelter the state’s wine regions from high winds and rainfall. On the lower slopes, the vineyard soils are formed from ancient sandstones and mudstones and also from more recent river sediments and igneous rocks of volcanic origin.
Tasmania's exceptional quality wine is much sought after, with prices paid by interstate wine companies for Tasmania’s cool climate grapes being the highest in the nation. Local growers sell all their production, with demand for their wines outstripping supply. It is no surprise that the wine sector has attracted investment from other parts of Australia and overseas.
Whilst Tasmania's wine sector is modest in size, representing less than 0.5% of the total national wine grape production, it commands 10% of the premium wine segment. All Tasmanian wine produced is in the niche premium wine sector retailing above $15 equivalent. This segment represents just 7% of Australia’s total wine production, but 28% of its value. There were 200+ vineyards operating in 2014 with a total bearing area of 1,611ha. Tasmania’s largest vintage was recorded in 2013 with 11,392 tonnes from just over 1,500ha.
More than half of the island’s wine producers only sell their wines within Tasmania, so the best way to experience the island’s wines is to come and visit! Winegrapes are grown in the south, east and north of the state across seven key wine growing areas. The Tasmanian cellar door experience is as diverse as the range of wine styles, from converted heritage stables to ultra-modern cellar door restaurants. Producers are usually on hand and happy to share their passion for their wines, distinctly shaped by Tasmania’s climate and soils.
There's no question that the future for Tasmanian wine is very bright! Whether you are interested in investing in the Tasmanian wine sector, purchasing wine from one of the island's talented producers and / or visiting our beautiful island and vineyards, we'd love to hear from you. For further information on the Tasmanian wine sector, please visit Wine Tasmania's website.
Wine Tasmania is the peak body representing the island's grape growers and winemakers - working together to promote Tasmania as a benchmark wine region of world renown.