Vineyard visitors are a normal part of life when the sky is blue and the days are long, says La Villa's Marcus Burns.
When you're a seasoned operator, you take it all in your stride, unless the visitor happens to be a 250kg fur seal that's stopped for a breather among your Pinot Gris.
"Yeah, it was a bit of a shock," the Spreyton orchardist and vineyard co-owner says as he recounts the events of January 2019.
"We found it just off the edge of the driveway when we arrived for work that morning. Somehow it had made its way five kilometres up the Mersey River before going cross-country for five or six hundred metres and arriving at our vineyard."
But all's well that ends well, Burns adds. The huge animal headed for home once field officers from the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service arrived on the scene.
The incident made national news bulletins.
So, too, did the discovery of a much more insidious potential visitor in the form of Queensland fruit fly larvae. The larvae was found by a member of the public on apricots growing in a domestic back garden just kilometres from La Villa in mid-January 2018.
"That was really scary," Gail Burns adds.
"Tasmania is the only Australian state considered free of fruit fly. We didn't have it on our property but we quickly found ourselves in the epicentre of one of the affected zones. It happened at the most critical time of the year for our orchard business. When we were finally able to pick our apples and pears, we had to fumigate our harvests each day. That went on for a whole year until the control and infected area restrictions were finally lifted. Fumigation alone cost us $300,000."
With Tasmania having had its pest-free status reinstated, Marcus and Gail Burns say the events that played out three years ago still send shivers up their spines. The situation would have been much worse had it not been for the prompt and thorough proactive work done by Biosecurity Tasmania and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE).
"This achievement would not have been possible without the cooperation of the community and industry," Minister for Primary Industries and Water Guy Barnett noted at the time.
March 31 will see that same principle of shared responsibility assume even greater significance for primary producers like Marcus and Gail Burns when the General Biosecurity Duty (GBD) comes into effect to support the state government's landmark Biosecurity Act 2019.
"The General Biosecurity Duty will operate as a statutory 'duty of care' in respect to biosecurity and reinforces that everyone has a role to play in protecting their business, our primary industries, and our unique environment against biosecurity risks," Biosecurity Tasmania acting general manager Rae Burrows says.
"This will mean that all Tasmanians will have a duty to take all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent, eliminate or minimise biosecurity risks when dealing with any biological matter or carrier, if they ought to know that there may be a biosecurity risk."
According to the acting general manager, the GBD also applies to visitors to Tasmania and to individuals and businesses who import biological material or equipment into Tasmania.
"In practical terms, this means that you do not need to be a biosecurity expert," she states.
"However you do need to know about the biosecurity risks that apply to your specific industry, business, work environment or pastimes - and how to manage and minimise those risks to the best of your ability."
Recent visitors to Tasmanian cellar doors will have already suspected biosecurity measures were being upgraded with the installation of new vineyard signage, urging them to 'Keep Out of the Vines.'
A tiny, vine-killing louse called phylloxera currently poses the greatest threat to Tasmanian vineyards. The insect pest decimated European vineyards during the mid-to-late 19th century. It struck terror into the hearts of Victoria's wine growers when phylloxera was discovered in the Yarra Valley in 2006.
Vineyards affected by the intruder have since been removed and replanted with vines grafted onto phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks.
These grafted vines typically cost five or six times the value put on vines that can be planted on their own roots.
Vines established on American rootstocks remain a rarity in Tasmanian vineyards.
Strict visitor regimes in the Yarra Valley nowadays typically exclude unauthorised vineyard access or require visitors to thoroughly wash and disinfect their footwear via chemical footbaths.
In 2019, Vinehealth Australia estimated a total replanting program there could cost in excess of $1 billion if required.
When Steve and Monique Lubiana moved to Granton outside Hobart just over 30 years ago, their goal was to produce stylish premium Tasmanian sparkling wine. Steve had worked Champagne's 1986 vintage and believed their north-facing site overlooking the River Derwent capable of producing fine fizz crafted to an international style.
This current release meets that brief. At seven years of age, it's a wonderfully fresh and vibrant wine, showcasing the vineyard's superb Chardonnay fruit.
Citrus and brioche notes combine with some attractive minerality to make this a 'go to' wine for freshly-shucked oysters. Terrific.
The Brown Family Wine Group's Hazards Vineyard near Bicheno basks in the East Coast sunshine. The property has an enviable track record for producing crowd-pleasing Pinot Grigio, one that combines clear cut varietal character with genuine affordability.
This 2020 release is a delicious drop that is at its best right now. It offers plenty of zesty nashi pear and tropical fruit flavour that finishes dry and savoury.
It's a good drink in its own right and a worthy partner for fresh Tasmanian seafoods or Thai fish cakes on a Friday night. Shop around, it's often discounted by large retailers.
Having produced world-class Riesling in Central Otago, Kiwi winemaker Max Marriott went on to work vintages in the Mosel Valley, Oregon and Burgundy before settling in Tasmania with his wife Siobhan and young family. A man of many talents, Marriott is making impressive wines in minute quantities in the state's south.
This new Clarence House Vineyard release is light-bodied and beautifully aromatic, showing considerable finesse and winemaking dexterity. It mixes sweet red fruits with savoury spice, dried herbs and ultra-fine tannin, virtually caressing the palate. Ethereal. Only 102 cases made.
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