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Industry Confidence by the Shed Load

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Bangor Vineyard in Tasmania’s southeast is going from strength to strength with a new tasting room just added.

Matt and Vanessa Dunbabin. Image supplied.

When Matt and Vanessa Dunbabin planted Bangor Vineyard at Dunalley in 2010, it seemed an inauspicious move for a couple taking on custodianship of a rich family heritage stretching back more than a century. Just another form of on-farm business diversification.

But we should have expected this modest vineyard development in Tasmania’s south-east to grow into something far more significant for the Dunbabins and their small, close-knit community.

After all, Matt Dunbabin had been named 2015 Farmer of the Year at the prestigious ABC Rural and Kondinin Group awards announced five years earlier. The seventh-generation Tasmanian farmer and grazier had also carried away the Diversification Farmer of the Year award that same year.

We should have known this quality-driven business would grow and grow until it just couldn’t grow any more.

This week’s launch of Bangor’s new wine-tasting room and event space seemed only a matter of time for the family, friends and business connections who attended the November 18 function. But Matt Dunbabin admits the couple never expected their Bangor Vineyard Shed would receive 50,000 visitors each year when the venture was first mooted.

“When we opened this facility six years ago, we never imagined this attraction would become so popular among locals and visitors alike,” he told those assembled on the new outdoor deck.

“Our original vision wasn’t this at all. We were just going to sell a few bottles of wine out of our old shearing shed at the bottom of the vineyard, to a few people that might be driving up the road.

“When we lost the shed in the 2013 Dunalley bushfire, we had to re-think what we were going to do. We thought what we ended up building would be way too big for what was going to happen here, but apparently we were wrong.”

The new private tasting room at Bangor. Images supplied.

Dunalley builder Andrew Daly and the small army of local contractors that breathed new life into Bangor’s Vineyard Shed over winter have done an incredible job. The design concept is a credit to the Dunbabins, who once again engaged Hobart’s Dunbabin Architects, the brains trust behind the property’s original cellar door facility.

Alterations and additions to previous structures have resulted in the property’s high quality wine portfolio once again becoming the centre’s key focus. Bangor’s tasting bar – which had evolved to become something of an adjunct to a busy food stop on the way to Port Arthur – now has its own welcoming taste space, staffed by highly experienced and well skilled locals.

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A smaller private tasting room can be quickly created by closing a set of sliding interior doors, with guests also being provided exclusive access to their own small outdoor deck and bucolic vineyard views.

“We realised we needed a dedicated space to present some of the theatre of wine,” Dunbabin adds.

Tasting pour. Image courtesy Mark Smith.

Visitors to Bangor will be able to drink in their fill in coming weeks, with a Plumm glassware tasting event and chocolate masterclass already marked in on the calendar.

They should insist on tasting the vineyard’s 2019 Captain Spotswood Pinot Noir. It’s a fine follow-up to the delicious 2018 vintage that won the Wine Tasmania Trophy for Champion Wine of the Show and the Pinot Shop Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at the 2020 Tasmanian Wine Show.

“It’s been a delight to see this Bangor story evolve and to watch Matt and Vanessa pursue this venture out of adversity,” noted Wine Tasmania CEO Sheralee Davies on officially launching the new developments.

“Bangor is now a major wine tourism attraction and a huge drawcard for the south-east. Matt and Vanessa are incredibly driven, incredibly determined hard working people. I also believe they have a sixth sense about what’s going to work and be successful for them.

“It’s been a tough year for those in wine and hospitality and tourism, and when you’re in all three – as these guys are – it’s been particularly tough.

The resilience and confidence you’ve shown in investing and expanding a property like this at a time when we’ve had so many challenges speaks a lot of your focus and your endeavours.

“Tasmania is an incredibly appealing destination for so many people – for our wines, our tourism and our hospitality. Now, more than ever, people are also looking at safety and wide-open spaces where they can comfortably social distance. They’re looking at fresh air and they’re looking at wonderful produce which reflects and speaks to its origins.

“I think the future of this venture is very bright.”

Bangor Vineyard Shed is open 7 days, 11am-5pm. Phone (03) 62 535 558.

Tasmanian producers shine

A total of eleven wines listed in James Halliday’s Top 100 Wines for 2020, including five wines rated 98 and three wine rated 97.

Is it any wonder members of Tasmania’s small scale wine industry were all smiles this past week?

For the umpteenth year in a row, Australia’s most prolific wine writer and respected critic once again lavished praise on a significant number of the state’s wine producers in announcing this year’s winners on November 14.

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As anticipated, Tasmania’s fizz wizards received the greatest volume of adulation from the Halliday Wine Companion author.

“Five of the seven traditional method sparkling wines came from Tasmania (the eighth a sparkling shiraz), a pattern that will become normal for the quality sector,” he remarked, summarising a tasting of some 1055 wines this year.

The best of the best in the Top Sparkling category were a couple of 97-pointers: Apogee Deluxe Vintage Brut 2016 and the House of Arras Grand Vintage 2009.

While two fantastic 2019 vintage wines from southern Tasmania were included in the Top Whites over $25 category – the Hughes & Hughes Chardonnay (98) and Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay (98) – Joe Holyman’s wonderful Stoney Rise Grüner Veltliner 2020 (97) was the product of a very challenging season. Its addition to the winner’s list must have been especially pleasing for the Tamar Valley winemaker. The quirky Austrian variety is a long way from home and has required kid-glove treatment on the Gravelly Beach site.

Three top drawer Tasmanian Pinot Noirs – each rated 98 – found their way into the Top Reds over $30 category. They were Dawson James Pinot Noir 2017, Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2018 and Stargazer Coal River Valley Pinot Noir 2019.

Bream Creek’s Fred Peacock. Image supplied.

Stargazer’s Samantha Connew was in the limelight for another reason this week. The Tea Tree vigneron was one of three nominees shortlisted nationally for the 2020 ASVO Winemaker of the Year Award. The Award for Excellence is made annually by the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology. The winner was South Australia’s Peter Leske (Revenir Winemaking).

Meanwhile, Wine Tasmania capped off a busy two-day program of workshops and tastings on November 9-10 with the announcement of its inaugural Tassie Wine Stars. The industry peak body named Bream Creek Vineyard’s Fred Peacock its 2020 Tassie Wine Stars Legend.

The award marked Peacock’s significant, long term and tireless contribution to the local wine sector, including more than thirty years of voluntary service on technical committees, observed Wine Tasmania CEO Sheralee Davies.

Top performers in Wine Tasmania’s VinØ Program were also recognised, with Pooley Wines announced as the 2020 VinØ Champion and Cambridge Valley Vineyard named Most Improved Business.


Hobart’s Mark Smith wrote his first weekly wine column back in 1994. Now more than 1700 features and 25 years later, he continues to chart the successes of Tasmania’s small scale, cool climate wine industry with regular contributions to some of Australia’s leading industry publications.


Mark gives you his honest opinions about the best wines available right now from Tasmania’s wine makers.


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2014 Clover Hill Cuvée Exceptionnelle Blanc de Blancs $65

Sparkling wine enthusiasts of a certain age will recall Clover Hill’s inaugural release from north-east Tasmania. It was crafted entirely from 1991 Chardonnay. The variety makes superb Blanc de Blancs in this part of the world, but that first vintage was missing a vital ingredient – extended time on yeast lees. This 2014 not only benefits in flavour from its six years’ maturation, it has a wonderfully creamy texture matched to very well-balanced acidity. Get those right and everything flows in a gentle river of gold – honey, citrus, nougat and lemon curd. Lovely.



2019 Roslyn 1823 Riesling $34

Roslyn 1823 is part of a 30ha farm owned and operated in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley by the Palmer family. The warm, dry climate of this subregion north of Hobart produces classically structured Rieslings that can be enjoyed on release or cellared a decade. Floral, citrus and grapefruit characters flood the glass and scamper across the palate. Modest vineyard yields – encouraged by permaculture practices – have endowed the wine with real drive and fruit intensity. Acidity is crisp and focused rather than austere. Partner it with stream caught Tasmanian trout.


2020 Spring Vale Melrose Chardonnay $30

Spring Vale’s attractive, early drinking Pinot Noir under the Melrose label has been one of the Lyne family’s most popular wines at cellar door and on retail shelves. This year, that bright and dependable young red has a sibling to share the Melrose kudos. Made without oak, it is similarly generous in flavour and should acquire many fans over summer. Stone fruit and ripe fig-like characters have quite an exotic tenor to them, suggesting inclusion of a small dollop of Pinot Gris or Gewürztraminer. Bright, fresh and ready-to-go in typical east coast fashion.



2018 Marco Lubiana Pinot Noir $50

Marco Lubiana might be a new name on the Tasmanian scene but winemaking is a part of his DNA. Born and raised among vines and wines on his parents’ vineyard in the Derwent Valley, Marco is a sixth generation Lubiana winemaker. This excellent debut release displays an understanding of Pinot Noir that extends well beyond Marco’s years. Huon Valley fruit from Lucille Vineyard – formerly Panorama – has been brilliantly handled in the winery to produce a rich Pinot with ripe plum and cherry elements. Oak flavour is low-key while tannins frame the fruit perfectly. A triumph.



Source: Tasmanian Times

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