Josef Chromy marketing manager Dave Milne says the Tasmania Unbottled roadshow has been extremely successful in raising the profile of Tasmanian wine.
TASMANIA'S winemakers are eager not to kill the golden goose as they embark on a wave of expansion.
Buoyed by growing interstate interest in both produce and investment, the push to swell Tasmania's rivers of plonk is on.
Josef Chromy was one of a suite of Tasmanian winemakers recently returned from the ``Tasmania Unbottled'' tour where food, wine and cider producers market directly to retailers and industry players, as well as consumers hungry for our local produce.
Wine Tasmania chief executive Sheralee Davies said the response was strong.
``The response and reaction we get from people on the mainland is just amazing,'' Ms Davies said.
``We had members of the public lining up at the door as soon as we open - it's gratifying there's so much interest in all things Tasmanian.''
Tourism Tasmania has also been in on the act, promoting wine tourism experiences to leading travel and food journalists during the showcase.
Josef Chromy marketing manager Dave Milne said the roadshow had been incredibly successful in raising the profile of Tasmanian wine.
``Consumers are getting aware of Tasmanian wine and they know they're dealing with quality products,'' Mr Milne said.
``That's the way it's got to stay.''
But taking advantage of our good reputation is not as simple as growing more grapes.
With Tasmania contributing less than 1 per cent of national production, the temptation is to grow faster than the measly 10-year average of just 65 hectares a year.
However, putting Tasmania's growth on steroids, taking a similar route to markets overseas, would hurt the industry overall, according to Riversdale Estate owner Ian Roberts.
``You can't go ahead and plant willy-nilly without demand,'' he said.
``Some people out there consulting say we could be planting huge substantial areas to replace New Zealand product.''
``That's just bull---- because who wants to compete with a $9 bottle of sauvignon blanc in Melbourne cellars?
``You don't want to be market-replacing another country's supply, especially when their labour rate is half of ours and they have industrial-scale production.''
It's an approach that peak body Wine Tasmania agrees with.
``To put it simply, if there's desire to grow the wine sector, the industry has got to be involved in saying where and how - and not people external to industry,'' Ms Davies said.
The government has heeded that approach with a new scheme for expanding the sector effectively paying the interest for new vines so long as they aren't producing fruit.
Considering new vines can take between three and five years to start producing grapes, Ms Davies says bridging that lead-in time can be the difference between making the leap to grow or not.
``It recognises the capital-intensive nature of the wine sector. We don't need handouts - the rebate on the interest goes a long way,'' she said.
The $1.2 million program appears unsubscribed in its first round earlier this year - just $250,000 went out the door to the five eligible applicants - but Ms Davies believes the longer lead-in time will see more vineyards apply.
For his part, Economic Development Minister David O'Byrne seems acutely aware of what makes our wines so sought-after - and is claiming success so far.
``Our climate, available water, affordable land and biosecurity advantages make Tasmania the perfect location for producing premium cool-climate fruit and wine,'' he said.
``Projects supported through round one of the program saw private investment of almost $2.2 million and the creation of around 60 direct and indirect jobs.''
Mr Milne supports the market-driven approach.
``We can't take an `if we build it, they will come' approach: wine regions around the world are littered with examples of over-saturated markets, which forces prices right down,'' he said.
As it stands, Tasmania is over-represented on national restaurant wine lists and worth up to four times the amount per litre exported.
``We're only half a per cent of the national crush, so we're small but we're fighting above our national weight,'' Mr Milne said.