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Invercarron Breathes Life into Secret Valley

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As a teenager used to life outdoors on a sixth-generation farming property in southern Tasmania, Andrew Jones might have been expected to run a mile from any desk-bound job involving routine tasks and attention to detail. But the Broadmarsh kid had more than an inkling the days of conventional farming were numbered in the historic […]

As a teenager used to life outdoors on a sixth-generation farming property in southern Tasmania, Andrew Jones might have been expected to run a mile from any desk-bound job involving routine tasks and attention to detail.

But the Broadmarsh kid had more than an inkling the days of conventional farming were numbered in the historic Jordan Valley, 35km north of Hobart.

“I’d watched Dad and my uncle struggle through difficult seasons amid rising costs and falling prices,” Jones recalls.

“I was more than ready to turn my back on the land altogether.”

Now the owner and operator of Invercarron Wines, Jones smiles broadly when he reflects on the string of successes he and wife Karen have enjoyed over the past 12 months or so. But it’s time the couple shared in the shadows of a global pandemic and there are reservations about admitting their thriving new business has fared better than many in Tasmania.

“I spent 30 years in travel – it was my life – and the current state of the industry is pretty sad,” Jones says.

“I really fear for what will happen over the next 12 months until international borders are expected to open again. There wasn’t much for the industry in Tuesday’s Federal Budget.”

It’s almost four years since the wine industry newcomer sold Andrew Jones Travel, the high-profile, Hobart-based travel firm he founded back in 1993.

“I really loved being in the travel industry, but when you end up having 40 people around you, most of your days are spent managing personnel and paperwork,” he muses.

Andrew Jones with winning wine. Image supplied.

The 6ha vineyard Jones planted on Dixon’s Hill above Broadmarsh in 2017 came as something of a ‘back to the future’ moment.

“Karen and I had already purchased our historic Invercarron property in 2011,” he explains.

“For the previous half-century, it had been owned by my parents Phil and Susan and operated along with the help of Dad’s brother Henry. By 2011, they were all looking to retire so we bought the place. No-one saw much future in it as a viable farming operation in this secret little valley.”

But subsequent purchases of land from a neighbouring farmer soon breathed new life and hope into Invercarron. Andrew and Karen Jones also sought advice on their property’s potential for cool climate viticulture. Their long-term plan was to diversify their significant financial investments into new, small-scale, high-value business enterprises that could give their Jordan Valley home much-needed, long-term financial security.

Today, Invercarron is not only the site of a pioneering new wine venture in the valley, its hillside slopes provide breeding grounds for the production of fine quality Merino sheep. Installation of pivot irrigation elsewhere on the property facilitates production of animal feed along with cereal and vegetable crops.

Planting commenced on the rocky, windswept Invercarron vineyard in 2017.

“We have Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, from which we’ve been able to create four distinctive, estate-grown wines, thanks to the expertise of Justin Arnold, our contract winemaker at Ghost Rock, on the outskirts of Devonport,” Jones says.

Vineyard planning and on-going viticultural management and consultant advice has been contracted to Absolute Viticulture principal, Marty Smith. The affable east-coaster spent his childhood and many of his formative industry experiences working alongside his late father, Chris Smith, who established Clover Hill Vineyard at Lebrina in Tasmania’s northeast in 1986.

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Absolute Viticulture’s clientele reads like a who’s who of the Tasmanian wine industry and also includes key mainland operators like the Fogarty Wine Group, Hill-Smith Family Vineyards and Handpicked Wines.

Smith’s involvement in the project bore fruit almost immediately. Last October, Invercarron’s inaugural Pinot Noir release was included among seven Tasmanian Pinot Noirs that won gold at the 2020 Royal Hobart Wine Show. It was produced from vines that had been in the ground barely 18 months.

The following month, Invercarron was named among the 50 finalists in the inaugural Young Gun of Wine Vineyard of the Year Awards, conducted by Victorian-based wine communicator Rory Kent. Smith shared Invercarron’s nomination in the nationwide viticulture initiative.

Invercarron Picker’s Hut. Image credit supplied.

The new year brought another innovative Jordan Valley project to fruition with the January launch of Invercarron’s Picker’s Hut, a small but well-appointed, self-contained cabin, offering luxury farm-stay accommodation alongside the property’s Dixon’s Hill vines.

Jones says the facility dates back to the pre-World World Two era when it was built nearby to house trainee soldiers at the former Brighton Army Camp. Left neglected after brief use at the Department of Immigration’s Pontville Detention Centre between 2011 and 2014, the wooden structure was trucked to its new location and extensively renovated.

“The Hut is already fully booked until January 2022,” muses the former travel company operator, who once again finds himself spruiking Tasmanian tourism, travel and hospitality.

Accommodation guests are offered tours of a working farm and vineyard out of doors. Meanwhile, renowned local chef Sean Dunn has been entrusted with the task of keeping patrons happy and well-nourished indoors.

“Bookings are for a minimum of two nights’ accommodation, with roughly half of those staying on the property also electing to take up the offer of an optional, five-course gourmet paddock-to-plate dinner,” Jones says.

“People love it. The Picker’s Hut has been a huge success and provides us with an ideal showcase for our estate-grown wines and Invercarron lamb.

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“We can’t wait to see all of the state’s tourism and hospitality businesses returning to pre-COVID operation. There are still plenty of places that are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, for instance. Compared with the rest of the world right now, Tasmania’s future looks very bright indeed.”

Invercarron grape pickers. Image supplied.


Time to put people in People’s Choice Awards

Have you cast your vote yet in the 2021 Young Gun of Wine People’s Choice Awards?

Six weeks have passed since the Top 50 Winemakers were announced in the annual

award scheme that promotes wine labels and winemakers on the rise across the country. Consumers have until May 24 to find out more about this talented bunch and to cast their vote for People’s Choice Winemaker.

Four Tasmanians figure among the Top 50 nominees. They are Max Marriott (Anim Wine), Luke Monks (Made by Monks), Marco Lubiana (Marco Lubiana) and Greer Carland (Quiet Mutiny).

All four Tasmanian nominees practise their craft in the south of the state.

According to awards founder Rory Kent, emerging wine producers are critical to the long-term future of the industry as they act as a source of innovation, inspiration and new ideas.

Greer Carland, Max Marriott, Luke Monks and Marco Lubiana. Images supplied except Max Marriott by Mark Smith.

“They’re not shackled by conventions,” he says.

“They’re free; wide-eyed; adventurous; eager to travel and experiment; keen to remix and question everything. They create energy. They excite. And this is how they lead.”

In early June, trophy winners will be announced in five award categories. They include Young Gun of Wine, Best New Act, People’s Choice, Winemaker’s Choice and Danger Zone. The latter award celebrates makers that tend the land and the vines that provide them with their essentials for quality winemaking.

Consumers may cast a single vote for the award of People’s Choice Winemaker. From the list of participating electors, one lucky person will be rewarded for their support with a free-standing Liebherr Wine Cabinet (valued at $1999), together with 52 bottles of wine sourced from finalists in the 2021 Young Gun of Wine Awards.

Strange that. You’d think a barrel of wine more appropriate. Gun, barrel… get it?

Never mind. Just get on and vote.

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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2012 Kate Hill Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay $47

It’s been 15 years since Kate Hill arrived in Tasmania after her four-year stint at the vast Orlando Wyndham winery in NSW’s Riverina. She hit the ground running with a string of awards for her new wines. The cool, challenging Huon Valley provides Hill with plenty of opportunity to indulge in her passion for sparkling wines. This smart current release reflects her growing skill and confidence. It’s a lovely, dry aperitif style, displaying the benefits of almost nine years on its yeast lees. The wine’s smooth, creamy mid-palate is delivered on a bright citrussy framework that has good balance, drive and energy.



2019 Velo Sauvignon Blanc $32

Velo in the Tamar Valley is one of the State’s oldest vineyards, with plantings there established by wine pioneer Graham Wiltshire in 1966. Sauvignon Blanc is a relative newcomer to the property’s sunlit vineyard. Ripeness is critical to the success of the popular white variety if consumers demand much more than something that smells and almost tastes like cat’s pee. In this attractive 2020 wine, you find ripeness at play in a floral/white flower fragrance that complements anticipated herbal aromas. Bright, squeaky clean flavours follow suit, with gooseberry and citrus elements that are both elegant and understated, in spite of their length and persistence. Fish and chips, please.



2020 Dr Edge South Chardonnay $55

Tasmania’s Derwent Valley has been synonymous with outstanding Chardonnay since the variety was first planted there in the 1980s. Indeed, it has long played a key role in the creation of House of Arras’s world-beating fizz. It’s intensity and finesse that shine through those wines. That’s the key to this impressive young Chardonnay from the talented Peter Dredge. A long season punctuated by lots of very mild weather has resulted in a crackerjack wine that demands time in the cellar. Green apple and lemon/grapefruit characters display piercing intensity, with gentle oak input and crisp acidity shaping the flavour profile. Wow. This is really going places.



2019 Ninth Island Pinot Noir $25

Luke Whittle has shown a steady pair of hands in creating stylish Pinot Noir in northern Tasmania. Those from the outstanding 2019 vintage have met with media acclaim and wine show success. In any given year, this trusty Kreglinger brand is always a smash hit among fans of the tricky red variety. Whittle’s 2019 treads the path of many of its forbears, showing brands of similar pricing a clean pair of heels. Yes, there’s a touch of reduction in the form of damp earth aroma but the palate comes alive at the meal table. Its complementary red fruits and spice notes work well with Asian-inspired duck courses.



Source: Tasmanian Times

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