There's wine to sip, local fare to nibble, roads to meander and fresh, sweet air to take in.
While most of the region’s producers beaver away the entire year, there’s a special something in their step during the warmer months, bringing the promise of long, balmy days.
Tamar Valley Wine Touring (photo Rob Burnett)
So hop in your car, wind down your window and start finding your way through a valley oozing with great taste and very good looks.
Here’s my must do’s when in the Tamar.
Chef Matt Adams and partner Shannon Bushby have taken over the restaurant at Velo Vineyard just 10 minutes from Launceston. They also raise goats on their property further down the river, so they know a thing or two about the importance of sourcing locally raised and handpicked food. So, after you enjoy a quick snack or lazily stroll through a fabulous seasonal menu at Timbre, you can wander in to Velo’s cellar door and taste some rather delicious, historic wines.
Timbre Restaurant (photo Claire Todd)
The man behind Stony Rise and accompanying label Holyman, Joe Holyman, is as entertaining as he is an expert in vino. He and wife Lou make drops so darn good you’ll see them in fancy restaurants around the country. The Stony Rise cellar door (not too far from a general store in Gravelly Beach, if you need supplies) will provide a great entrée to cool-climate wines and no doubt a good laugh.
Nigel’s Gourmet on Tamar
To admire a bizarre range of sausages is a reason in itself to visit this family-owned butcher in Exeter. Lamb Korma, Pork and Peaches, The Cheesy Pig, Chicken Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Beef and Vegemite: ask Nigel to take you through his award-winning selection of snags. If you are tempted, grab a loaf of fresh bread from the Exeter Bakery and find a barbeque to sizzle up a storm.
Goaty Hill Wines
You’ll need to watch for terriers but you’ll also get one of the best views of the region. From the deck of Goaty Hill stretches acres of pasture, immaculate vines then the snaking tale of the Tamar River. Grab a seat or uncurl the rug on the grass and enjoy one of Goaty Hill’s sensational cold platters brimming with local treasures like salmon, pate, smoked chicken and cheddar. The vineyard’s Pinot is terrific but their Riesling keeps me coming back. Especially when matched with cheese, crackers and a hot date.
Moores Hill (photo Miles Gray)
One of just a couple of vineyards serving up food as well as plonk, Moores Hill is perched overlooking the bushy green of the valley and the road to gold-mining town Beaconsfield. Lounge in comfy chairs or sit at share tables as you nibble on charcuterie and cheese and sip this vineyard’s intriguing range. The Chardonnay is a must, as is a cuddle with resident pooch Otto. Whisky lovers can opt to taste some of Tassie’s famed golden nectar.
Holm Oak Vineyard (photo Rob Burnett)
When Tetsuya Wakuda popped to Tassie to cook dinner for 100 lucky punters recently, Holm Oak was picked to pair the wine. And it’s not hard to taste why. Their tipples are elegant and clean and made even better by the cellar door surrounds. Trundle in to Holm Oak, meet Bec and Tim and feed their pet pig. Yes that’s right – there’s a hog at Holm Oak who likes his apples.
Good, filling pub grub beside the sparkly Tamar River. Grab a spot in the glassed wing and enjoy a local brew on tap before deciding where next.
If you’ve got a tick, call in to Deviot. It’s a tiny hamlet with Edwardian homesteads and a jetty where you’ll often spot locals sinking a line. Just up the road is your link to the East Tamar and more cellar doors: the Batman Bridge.
Sinapius Vineyard (photo Chris Crerar)
Wine without the frills: Sinapius is vineyard and cellar door dedicated to honest, small batch vino that’s gaining attention across the country. Owners Linda and Vaughn run a low-key cellar door that’s the perfect stop before heading to golf at Barnbougle. Call in next door to Delamere if you have time – they have great Blanc de Blanc, a rustic garden and picnic blankets.
Obviously most of the places I’ve covered do booze, but not all do food. So if you’re planning on making a day of it, I recommend visiting one of Launceston’s great providores like Stillwater, Wursthaus Kitchen or Alps and Amici before you hit the road. If you’re arriving from the North West, call in to the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory.