Wine producers are a patient lot.
Growing wine grapes isn't like growing beans or carrots. A vine planted today needs around three years of fastidious care and attention before contributing anything to a commercial winemaking operation.
And that assumes a near-perfect match between grape variety and vineyard site.
But our climate is undergoing significant change, according to last year's release of Australia's Wine Future: A Climate Atlas.
The 487-page document is the result of extensive research conducted by the University of Tasmania's Climate Futures Group. Among its many findings, the climate atlas predicts that by 2041, the North West Coast will be almost a full degree warmer during the growing season than is being experienced right now on the East Coast.
Meanwhile, the average growing season temperature on the East Coast will rise to 16.9C by 2100. That will approximate to current conditions in South Australia's Limestone Coast.
So what might Tasmania's vineyard landscapes look like if such predictions prove correct?
When Frogmore Creek purchased the Coal River Valley property of Roslyn Vineyard in 2009, the company decided it was time for action.
"We set ourselves the challenge of finding out what red wine grapes we could grow in this part of the state, in addition to Pinot Noir," senior winemaker Alain Rousseau recalls.
Born and raised in France's Loire Valley, Rousseau and his wife Marie-Paule emigrated to Tasmania in 1991 after widespread spring frosts decimated the wine industry.
Sometime around 2005, he began to notice subtle changes in growing and ripening conditions in his adopted state.
"It's becoming warmer and much drier in the Coal River Valley," he explains.
That's especially true around Campania, where Roslyn is located. Hotter, drier and slightly more elevated than Frogmore Creek's Cambridge home, the vineyard is some 30km north of Hobart airport.
"When we took over Roslyn, it had more Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot than we needed for our red winemaking requirements," Rousseau says.
"We planned some major changes, including a vine grafting program.
"Grafting new vine selections onto existing trunks and root systems has allowed us to introduce new varieties to our vineyard blocks while also reducing the amount of time we have needed to wait until they began producing grapes for the winery."
After more than a decade of development, Roslyn has evolved into a complex matrix of almost 30 different vineyard blocks.
Rousseau and fellow winemaker John Bown now have a dozen red grape varieties they can fashion into Frogmore Creek's limited release Single Block Series. They comprise Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Barbera, Gamay, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Dornfelder.
"We haven't just concentrated on new red wine varieties," Rousseau adds.
"We've also planted Chenin Blanc, along with some new clonal selections of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that we believed would perform better than the vineyard's original selections. In total, there's almost 70ha of vines in production."
Block elevation, sun and wind exposure - along with row orientation and soil type - have all played critical roles in determining vineyard management. Vast numbers of massive, sub-surface bluestone boulders have provided major planting challenges. So, too, has the array of soil types present.
"You find light sandy loams at the bottom of the vineyard with some heavier black clay loams only metres away," Rousseau says.
"Around the top of the property, there are red soils. That mix has made irrigation very difficult. We've already concluded this location now produces our best Pinot Noir.
"Barbera, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc ripen very well on the site. Gamay and Shiraz also perform very well. I was making Shiraz at Moorilla Estate in the 1990s, but it was a very different kind of Shiraz, sourced from the Tamar Valley.
"We are starting to see Shiraz being grown in many parts of the state and it has never been better. Our cooler night-time temperatures, lower rainfall and that little bit of extra heat we get here during the daytime in the Coal River Valley means that we are able to create new kinds of Tasmanian red wine that haven't been seen before.
"They are creating a lot of interest among consumers. Our Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines sell like hot cakes in our restaurants. Beyond our traditional French varieties, Barbera looks to have a really exciting future.
"It's among our newer vine selections. It makes a really beautiful wine - dark in colour - and with wonderful flavour ripeness and natural acidity."
Take note, Pinot Noir lovers. Change is on the way.
PICK OF THE CROP
2017 Frogmore Creek Single Block Series Gamay $65
In its Beaujolais home, Gamay makes fresh gluggable reds, along with more serious, statuesque wines for the cellar. Locally, Frogmore Creek, Meadowbank, Sinapius and Two Bud Spur have also shown the variety is capable of shrugging off its typical workhorse status to display distinctive, thoroughbred breeding here in Tasmania.
This Coal River Valley release has the richness, generosity and structure you'd expect from a special site.
Its intense raspberry, cherry and blackberry flavours are supported by fine tannins and well balanced natural acidity. Partner with duck and plum sauce.
2010 Grey Sands Merlot $45
Merlot's reputation for superb quality was much maligned by the 1994 movie Sideways. In Bordeaux and other parts of the world, the variety produces smooth, plump wines, capable of ageing for decades.
Grey Sands at Glengarry - along with Domaine A and Frogmore Creek at Campania - are now offering it a future in Tasmania. Rita and Robert Richter are among our Merlot pioneers, with excellent vintages stretching back over 20 years.
The 2010 is now in peak drinking condition, with plenty of savoury plummy/curranty fruit to enjoy. The tannins are ripe and supple; the nose complex and cedary; the colour incredible. Delicious.
2013 White Rock Vineyard Dawn Red $N/A
When Kimberley's Phil Dolan ordered Dornfelder vines from a Riverland nursery in 2008, no one else in Australia was growing the obscure German red. But the secret was out six years later, when this vintage won the Best Other Red Trophy at the 2014 International Cool Climate Wine Show.
The wine remains in fine fettle, deep and opaque in the glass, like an inky young Shiraz.
Its palate is similarly fresh and youthful, with dark cherry and blackberry flavours in abundance. Critic Huon Hooke noted Tassie could become the Dornfelder capital of the Southern Hemisphere. He may be right.
- 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.