OK, so you've picked your grapes and made some wines this vintage.
What's next if you're one of many emerging, small-scale wine producers in Tasmania?
The answer is to bring to fruition your carefully devised marketing plan. That's exactly what Sue and Rob Nichols and their family are working on now that harvest has come to an end on their Eastford Creek site at Sassafras in the state's central north.
In March 2020, the couple applied to the Latrobe Council to set up a winery, distillery, café and visitor accommodation on their 8ha vineyard at Chapel Road. Now that the first stage of Eastford Creek's on-site winery has become a reality, the founder and former CEO of Nichols Poultry says his family is forging ahead with the establishment of a $350,000 vineyard cellar door.
"We carried out the first pour of concrete for the building's foundations back in late February," he explains.
"A second pour was completed in early March. We're making good progress. We hope to have our new cellar door open to receive its first visitors later in the year."
Successful relocation and re-purposing of existing farm buildings have already been carried out. These include a shepherd's hut, together with granary and pumpkin sheds believed to be 130 years old.
Meanwhile, a large and sensitively re-furbished barn has been brought into service as a function room and wedding venue.
"Its use as a wedding centre came about quite by accident," Nichols adds.
"We'd originally developed it as a venue for my daughter's wedding. When COVID-19 came along last year, we found there were many couples in the north of the state that had had their wedding plans elsewhere cancelled.
"After successfully hosting our first wedding in late 2020, we generated quite a demand for our new venue. We've had 15 weddings this season. We've got more than 20 bookings for later in the year and for 2022."
Eastford Creek's achievements to date should come as no surprise to those already familiar with the affable bloke from Leicestershire, England. Nichols emigrated to Tasmania with his parents and two brothers in 1982. He was 18 years old at the time.
At first, the family grew vegetables, poppies and cereal crops on the property they purchased at Sassafras, 20km southeast of Devonport.
"We began poultry production in 1988, growing and processing some 80 birds per week," Nichols recalls.
"By the time I sold the business to TasFoods in 2016, production exceeded 60,000 birds a week."
Nichols' three decades of company leadership revealed a remarkable capacity for forward-thinking and innovation. In 2008, he installed a Danish-built, 225kW wind turbine on the production site. It represented state-of-the-art renewable energy technology, trimming around 50 percent from the company's annual operating costs.
Today, the statuesque, 33m structure remains a significant landmark in the district.
On exiting the company he founded, Nichols began exploring adding value to the rich undulating soil that brought Sassafras centuries of farming success.
"We established a new business based around a four-year rotation of five crops," he says.
"We grow potatoes, wheat, poppies, peas and an annual cash crop of broccoli and cauliflower. But we've always had this one corner of land that was completely unfarmable. It's so stony. It's also quite steep in parts and has provided us with some real concerns in terms of drainage and irrigation."
As admirers of the Cradle Coast's Ghost Rock and Barringwood Estate wines, the couple researched their site's suitability for cool climate viticulture. In 2018, a 4ha vineyard was established. Subsequent additions have doubled its planted area.
A little over a year ago, Western Australian winemaker Andrew Gaman knocked on the Nichols' front door. Having recently moved with his family to northwest Tasmania, Gaman was seeking to develop his own contract winemaking business in the district.
Today, Eastford Creek provides a home base for the 2006 Young Australian Winemaker of the Year finalist. Gaman's work around the small, well-equipped winery is complemented by some astute vineyard management. His day-to-day responsibilities extend to parcels of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, as well as smaller plots of Gamay and Pinot Meunier.
"I'm keen to put everything into this project," the self-confessed Pinotphile says.
"I'm really determined to show just how good a wine region this little place can be."
Highly experienced - and undeniably talented - Gaman is already working wonders for this latest Nichols venture.
Watch this space. Eastford Creek will be no paltry affair for this ambitious trio of business owners and operators.
PICK OF THE CROP
2019 Pipers Tasmania Pinot Noir $29
Kreglinger Wine Estates certainly hit the jackpot with the 2019 vintage in Tasmania.
Every table wine in the company's carefully crafted Pinot Noir portfolio shines like a beacon. Significantly lighter in body than the company's flagship Estate wine, the Pipers Tasmania offering is a very attractive wine nevertheless, delivering an engaging mix of dark berry aromas and flavours.
Its spicy black cherry notes add a savoury, almost licoricey dimension to the palate, making it a stylish dinner partner for charcuterie and game meats. Yes, the 2019 hits keep on coming. But think Zen warrior rather than karate kid.
2020 Drew Pinot Noir $30
Tea Tree's Robert Drew is one of the unsung heroes of Tasmania's Coal River Valley. Born and raised in the district, his salt-of-the-earth character is reflected in the no-fuss directness and approachability of his wines.
This release from the cool 2020 vintage is a delight, brimming with vibrant red cherry and red curranty fruits. The valley's ubiquitous eucalypt notes lie submerged beneath the wine's calm, dark chocolate secondary flavours. A silky-smooth finish provides elegance and immediate drinkability.
This is a lovely young Coal River Valley Pinot with real charm and finesse. Enjoy the deer hunter's red with some venison sausages.
2019 Dalrymple Tasmanian Pinot Noir $38
Dalrymple winemaker Peter Caldwell has a passion and enthusiasm for Pinot Noir that's hard to resist. A decade of creating outstanding New Zealand wines at Te Kairanga has been followed by a similar period of great success with Dalrymple in Tasmania.
This is an excellent young Pinot Noir from the superb 2019 vintage. In contrast to many of its predecessors, it's an intensely focused middleweight that deserves many years in the cellar in spite of its ready drinkability.
Rich spicy dark plum and cherry fruit is held in check by ripe, savoury tannins and a neat line of fresh Tasmanian acidity.
- 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.