As a regular stallholder at Hobart's Farm Gate Market, Fred Peacock says nothing beats a friendly chat with those that come to taste and buy his Bream Creek wines.
"Having your own vineyard sounds so idyllic to many marketgoers," Peacock muses.
"The reality is it's a helluva lot of work."
Peacock speaks with the voice of experience. He's been active in and around Tasmania's cool climate wine industry for more than four decades.
Indeed, the renowned vineyard operator and industry consultant is one of the busiest you're ever likely to meet.
Peacock either owns or manages 30ha of vines in three major, but quite diverse, subregions of the state - the East Coast, Coal River Valley and Derwent Valley.
That's the price he pays for pursuing viticultural excellence.
Two years ago, leading consumer magazine Gourmet Traveller Wine named Peacock its 2018 Viticulturist of the Year.
"What he doesn't know about growing grapes on the island is probably not worth knowing," the publication observed.
Peacock's pre-eminent position in the Tasmanian wine industry was confirmed yet again when he was named the 2020 Tassie Wine Stars Legend by the industry's peak body, Wine Tasmania in Hobart on November 10.
Wine Tasmania CEO Sheralee Davies says Peacock was recognised "for his significant, long term and tireless contribution to the local wine sector, including more than thirty years of voluntary service on technical committees."
"I think the organisers looked around the room to see who was the oldest person there and thought, 'he'll do,'" Peacock jests in his customary self-effacing manner.
"No, it was really a great honour," he adds.
... it was really a great honour ...Tony Peacock
"As much as it's important to acknowledge the respect of fellow producers, the real reward for me is to be able to reflect on the enormous growth we've seen in the state's wine industry. Having had such humble beginnings, grape growing and winemaking in Tasmania are now taken very seriously by the Australian wine industry. There's a lot of very talented people living and working in this state."
Much has changed since Peacock first signed on with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry as a young Ag Science graduate, fresh out of university.
He spent a decade working with mixed horticultural crops before becoming inaugural Tasmanian State Viticulturist in 1984.
"We had little understanding of what cool climate viticulture was all about during those very early years," Peacock recalls.
"The DPI didn't have a dedicated viticulture section. My work with vineyards was mainly about solving problems. Many people thought the best approach was to take what was known about growing apples and pears and small fruits like strawberries and then apply those principles to growing grapevines.
"We now know there's a world of difference. The planting and management practices are different, the irrigation systems are different and so are the responses to adverse growing conditions brought on by weather, pests and diseases."
Among the handful of roles Peacock filled within the department was the shared management of a small pilot vineyard at Rowella in the Tamar Valley.
Close to 80 different grape varieties were trialled there to determine their suitability for Tasmanian growing conditions.
The work brought Peacock into close contact with pioneering vignerons like Dr Andrew Pirie and the late Graham Wiltshire.
In 1989, Peacock moved to the Alcorso family's Moorilla Estate, outside Hobart.
The newly-created position of general manager brought home the stark financial realities and commercial imperatives that cool viticulture needed to address if it were to have any kind of future in Tasmania.
A mix of careful planning and sheer happenstance led Peacock to purchase his beloved Bream Creek Vineyard in 1990.
The East Coast property was planted in 1974 and had been supplying grapes under contract to Moorilla Estate.
"I bought the vineyard when it was put to auction by its syndicate of owners," Peacock explains.
Three decades later, the revamped and revitalised site overlooking Marion Bay continues to play a critical role in positioning Bream Creek Wines as an industry flagship.
Thanks to Peacock's shrewd management and viticultural expertise, the broad appeal of his company's wines has the label within reach of a significant milestone - 1000 national and international wine show medals.
"Well managed vineyards have a great future here," the 2020 Legend says.
"And with the Tasman Sea affording us protection from many of the predicted extremes of global warming, Tasmanian wine producers will have even more to offer during the next 30 years."