Vineyards have a habit of transforming people's lives.
One moment they're all sticks and ploughed earth, and the next thing you know there's a maze of new shoots and leaves to whip into shape.
For Bangor's Matt and Vanessa Dunbabin, that was the fun part.
Then came the challenge of selling the wines they were intending to produce from their three-hectare block planted in 2010.
It didn't begin well, Matt tells guests on his Wine in the Vines tasting tour.
The couple was barely two months from picking the first Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris on their historic 6200-hectare farming property when a devastating bushfire swept through the district.
"The January 2013 fire destroyed most of nearby Dunalley," he explains.
"It burned 2000 hectares of Bangor land, took out almost 32 kilometres of our fencing, along with outbuildings, pasture and a vineyard shelter belt.
"We were able to save the vineyard, but we lost an entire crop that year because of smoke-tainted fruit."
Also lost was a weather-beaten shearing shed the couple had ear-marked for use as their vineyard cellar door.
But fortune favours the brave. Within a year, a new shed had been erected on the site.
The tasting facility was a modest affair, little more than a glass and timber box - a modern-day phoenix, risen from the property's ashes.
The subsequent breaking of a three-year drought in the district brought with it significant adjustments to the family's business plans.
Bangor began adding fine wine to a fine wool heritage that stretched back over more than a century.
Dunbabin says sustainable land management and a diversified approach to farming brought more than just an increased number of visitors to the property.
It also brought increased financial security.
Now the funding of long-established programs of habitat conservation and wildlife protection could be more reliably supported by a broad suite of on-farm programs.
Not just winegrowing, but sheep and cattle grazing; merino ram breeding; timber harvesting; and assorted cropping activities.
In August 2015, sales figures for the month leapt markedly with the release of a new edition of the prestigious Halliday Wine Companion.
The country's most authoritative wine guide included Bangor among Australia's top 10 new wineries of the year.
The following month, Matt Dunbabin was named 2015 Farmer of the Year at the ABC Rural and Kondinin Group awards announced in Sydney.
An additional Diversification Farmer of the Year accolade capped off what had been an extraordinary trifecta of wins for the sixth-generation farmer.
Looking back over their first decade in Tasmania's small scale, cool climate wine industry, Dunbabin admits he and Vanessa never expected their Bangor Vineyard Shed would grow to become a roaring success after such an inauspicious start.
Prior to this year's COVID-19 global pandemic, Bangor received some 50,000 visitors annually.
Many of them were travellers passing by the front gate on their way in and out of the Tasman Peninsula.
"When we opened six years ago, we never imagined this attraction would become so popular among locals and visitors alike," Dunbabin muses.
Fewer than six weeks have passed since the Bangor Vineyard Shed reopened for the 2020-2021 tourist season.
It now features a new wine-tasting room and event space, facilities in keeping with the vineyard's growing popularity as one of the best little wine businesses in the state.
Alterations and additions to previous structures have made Bangor's high quality wine portfolio a key focus.
The light and airy tasting bar - which in recent years had been required to play second fiddle to a busy restaurant and food stop - once again has its own welcoming taste space.
A clever design feature is a pair of large moveable interior doors that can be slid into place to create a small private tasting room.
Guests are given exclusive access to their own outdoor deck along with picturesque vineyard and water views.
"We realised we needed a dedicated space to present some of the theatre of wine," Dunbabin admits.
"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 people that might be driving up the road.
"After we lost our original shed in the fire, our first thoughts were that the building we put up in its place would be way too big for what was going to happen here. Apparently, we were wrong."
Indeed, they were. Take a Wine in the Vines tasting tour and see for yourself.
For more details, visit www.bangorshed.com.au
PICK OF THE CROP
NV Pirie Tasmania Traditional Method $32
Tasmania's bottle-fermented sparkling wines lead the industry nationally, with quality and value for money increasing almost every year. The Pirie name has been associated with top-notch fizz since 1995. Ownership now lies with Victoria's Brown Family Wine Group, but numerous wine shows and blind tastings reveal this Pirie flagship remains one of our top-performing sparklings, especially considering its price segment and ready availability. Crafted from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, there's plenty of flavour on offer, with its bright citrus and apple notes rounded out nicely by lees ageing. Discounts often put it under $30. www.tamarridge.com.au
2019 Drew Tasmanian Riesling $25
The Coal River Valley outside Hobart has been the source of wonderful Riesling since the pioneering days of George Park at Stoney Vineyard, 40 years ago.
Bright summer days and chilly overnight temperatures lay foundations for classic wines that are delicious to enjoy young yet eminently age worthy. Robert Drew's Tea Tree offering is simply delightful with Tasmanian scale fish.
Meanwhile, the wine's abundant power makes it a handy partner for spicy Asian cuisine. Intense lime and floral aromas herald archetypal citrus characters that are crisp and dry. A very subtle hint of peppermint is both intriguing and enhancing. Great drinking.
2019 Bangor Captain Spotswood Pinot Noir $34
Bangor's excellent 2018 Captain Spotswood was a star performer at February's 2020 Tasmanian Wine Show, winning trophies for Best Pinot Noir and Champion Wine of the Show. Now sold out, it's been replaced by a striking successor from the superb 2019 harvest. Tasmanian Pinot Noirs made that year have an immediately appealing juiciness to them and this concentrated new release is no exception. Rich black cherry, plum and red berry flavours flood the palate, while maturation in old oak has endowed the wine with the soft ripe tannins required for current consumption and cellaring another five years. Exceptional value. www.bangorshed.com.au
- Mark Smith wrote his first weekly Tasmanian wine column back in 1994. He continues to chart the successes of the state's small scale, cool climate wine industry with contributions to some of Australia's leading industry publications.