Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The Taste of Autumn – On the Southern Wine Trail Pt. 1





The last leaves of Autumn on the Wine Trail

Tasmania is famous for its cool climate wines, so much so that even French wine maker Moet et Chandon is beginning to use Tasmanian grapes in its Australian product and Tasmanian wines have been winning prizes since 1974.  In 2013 Tasmania had 230 vineyards and 1500 hectares planted to vines.
While most of it  is grown in the north of the state and there are other fine vineyards further south, in the Derwent Valley and in the east, there is a particularly high concentration of them in the Coal River Valley only about half an hour’s drive away, so I thought I would start there.  Of course if you are pressed for time, you can try them all at once at Clemens Hill in Richmond, or at the Gasworks,  in Hobart without ever having to leave town.


Frogmore Vineyard
 
It was a glorious day for a drive  – crisp, clear and sunny, with the last few leaves still clinging to the vines. Like the wines, each of the vineyards also has its own character and with the exception of one of the originals – the small Craigow Vineyard, most of them also serve food. Frogmore's restaurant won the Regional Division of the Australian Restaurant of the Year Awards last year and was well patronised when I called. At least two of them also cater for children. Riversdale Estate has its delightful Peter Rabbit Garden ($20 for adults, $10 for children), as well as a French bistro. Puddleduck has an outdoor picnic area where children can also feed the ducks. Their parent’s survival pack ($10) which includes juice, a frog biscuit, icy pole, colouring book and pencils along with duck food, is noted for future reference. They also have an interesting take on BYO . Instead of bringing the wine, you can bring the food and they will supply the wine.Unfortunately,due to our strict drink and drive laws, I  couldn't sample as much as I would have liked, nor am I the greatest wine buff - after a glass or two, they all taste good to me, but there are certainly worse ways to while away an afternoon.

Elegance - Frogmore
Casual at Riversdale
Intimate at Craigow
 There are no less than seven vineyards just on the short stretch of road from Cambridge to Richmond, plus several more along the Tea Tree Road on the other side and the Lark Distillery also has a presence here, so there is no shortage of places to  eat and drink.  Although I had planned to visit them all on this trip, I only managed four before closing time, but I look forward to reporting on the others in the near future.  The best way would be to take the bus or one of the many wine tours so there are no concerns about having to drive home afterwards. Maybe next time I'll take along a friend who doesn’t drink.

Family friendly Puddleduck  -they also have reverse BYO  where you can bring your food and buy the wine
What I missed out on in wine tasting, I made up for in cheeses – another area in which Tasmania shines. Both Coal River Farm and the prizewinning Wicked Cheese Factory are on this route and were also doing a roaring trade. At Coal River Farm you can pick your own berries when in season. They also have a great range of chocolate and chocolate products and a restaurant too.  At Wicked you can enjoy a variety of Goat or Cow’s milk cheeses, including excellent bries and camenberts as well as a range of cheddars and blues. I was especially taken by the yoghurt cheese today, though I also bought camenbert and fudge. They also have a licensed café which serves local beers, ciders and wine.

Brie and Cambert gleam gold and silver in the fridges at Coal River Farm
 
Tasting at the Wicked Cheese Factory where you can often see cheese being made too

Afterglow -the sun is about to set as I head home

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