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Tasmania’s Stories

Sparkling future for Tassie wines

Edition 194_SparklingWine

Tasmania’s wine sector is booming: a new report hails it as a $115 million industry, a ‘cracking’ vintage is just wrapping up, and our sparkling stars are setting the world alight.

Hard to believe it was only 30 years ago that Tasmania’s wine-makers began dabbling in sparkling wines. A drop in the ocean when compared to the grand champagne houses of France with histories and vintages stretching back centuries.

Yet, an influential critic has declared our sparkling wines second only to those mighty champagnes of France.

“Right now, the greatest sparkling wine on earth, outside of Champagne, comes from Tasmania,” top champagne and sparkling wine critic, Tyson Stelzer, told us from his Brisbane home.

“There is a real buzz in influential wine circles around the world about the calibre of Tasmanian sparkling wines.”

This glowing endorsement follows the release of his highly anticipated Tyson Stelzer’s Australian Sparkling Report 2018.

Not only did the report identify Tasmania as, “Australia’s hero sparkling state, topping the charts on every measure,” but it also pointed to growing international acclaim.

Featured in the report was a blind tasting in New York where four top French champagnes – with price tags upwards of $600 – were pitted against a selection of Tasmania’s finest.

Tyson Stelzer asked: “How would the tiny state of Tasmania stand up…in the stratospheric company of the greatest sparkling wines on earth?”

“Tasmanian sparkling is on the level of champagne,” was the answer from one matriarch of a noted French cuvee house.

Tyson Stelzer’s report makes special reference to Tasmania’s House of Arras, which last November had a ‘historic win’ being named Best Australian Producer at the International Wine and Spirit Competition.

He selected the House of Arras – alongside Seppelts – as Australia’s top sparkling wine producer, awarding it seven stars.

Acclaimed Tasmanian producers Clover Hill, Jansz TasmaniaPirie and Stefano Lubiana, all received five stars.

“Tasmania remains but a small player in volume terms, however, its significance as Australia’s leader in cool climate wine growing cannot be overstated,” Tyson Stelzer’s report concludes.

Each year some 4.5 million bottles of sparkling are produced in Tasmania – about 35 per cent of the state’s total wine production.

“Australia’s stereotype that our wines are big, bold and brash has been shattered by the beautifully elegant wines of Tasmania which are competing for the very first time with the great cool wine regions of northern Europe,” Tyson Stelzer explained.

“There is a long-term story at play here.”

Meantime, as the world celebrates Tasmania’s sparkling stars, another report is further cause for celebration.

It found that wine contributes $115 million to Tasmania’s economy every year, making it one of the State’s top ten industries.

“The report’s findings accurately capture the sector’s significant and growing contribution to the island’s economy,” Wine Tasmania Chief Executive, Sheralee Davies, said.

Commissioned by Wine Tasmania, the report provides the first comprehensive quantitative analysis of the Tasmanian wine industry and found:

  • $100 million is injected into the economy annually through agriculture (vineyards) and manufacturing (wineries)
  • A further $15.2 million is added through wine tourism (cellar doors)
  • The industry sustains 2,063 full-time jobs (224 of these in wine tourism)
  • Investment in Tasmania’s wine industry is above the Australian average
  • Tasmanian wines have a higher average selling price

“Most of the wine sector’s value is derived post the farm-gate, and this report provides unprecedented insight into the substantial overall value of the Tasmanian wine sector to the state,” Ms Davies added.

“It’s an exciting time of growth in the sector’s relative youth, as we continue to attract global interest in our wines and ever-increasing visitation to our cellar doors.”

Interestingly, the report was released as Tasmania’s 2018 vintage – which by all accounts is amongst the best – was wrapping up.

“A cracking vintage,” are the words chosen by Ms Davies.

“It is shaping up as one of the great vintages and it is likely to set records for yields, and in terms of quality we are hearing really positive reports across all grape varieties.”

Half of those grapes are Pinot Noir (44 per cent), a quarter Chardonnay (23 per cent) followed by Sauvignon Blanc (12 per cent), Pinot Gris (11 per cent) and Riesling plus others make up the rest (10 per cent).

Until now, Tasmania’s best-ever vintage was in 2016, where 15,000 tonnes of grapes ended up in 13 million bottles of wine. 2018 is expected to top that.

And the reason?

Ideal growing conditions – warm weather across the season without being hot, and very little damaging rain. This also resulted in an early harvest with virtually all grapes plucked from the vines by the end of April.

You can expect the first bottles from this ‘cracking’ vintage to start appearing on shelves in spring: an event that won’t go unnoticed by Tasmania’s 160 wine producers and connoisseurs.

“Our wines always stand out,” Ms Davies said.

“They look youthful, they look bright and they look lively.

“Tasmanian wines jump out of their glass with intensity.”

Image courtesy of Tyson Stelzer

Wine Tasmania’s Sheralee Davies talks to us about the 2018 vintage and how this year’s wines are shaping up. View the video below:

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Watch video on YouTube

8 May 2018, Edition 194

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Facts about Tasmania


Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.


Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012–13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.


Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.


The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island’s land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.


About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.


Twice named ‘Best Temperate Island in the World’ by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.


In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.


The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.


Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.


Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King’s holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.


Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.


The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.


The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.


A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.


Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world’s biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.


The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.


Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.


Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.


The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.


Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.


The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the State’s gross product in 2010–11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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