You don't need to travel far to see that Tasmania's cool climate wine industry is really flourishing.
New vineyards are popping up all over the place, and that's not the full extent of the planting activity that's been taking place.
Plenty of established sites have added new vines in recent years. Once winter pruning is done, some will carry out further expansions.
Less conspicuous are the removal and replacement of diseased vines, or those producing meagre or poor-quality fruit.
That's time-consuming and inevitably costly, says Legana Estate's Rod Thorpe.
But it's an essential part of good viticulture, especially as vines become subject to the wear and tear of old age.
"This place has got a bit of heritage," he says of the 4ha Tamar Valley site.
"A lot of people don't know that."
Located on the West Tamar Highway, barely 12 kilometres from the Launceston CBD, the vineyard was originally known as Chateau Legana.
Established in 1966 by industry pioneers Graham Wiltshire and Michael Curtis, it played a key role in the development of one of Tasmania's earliest and most recognisable wine brands, Heemskerk Wines.
The vineyard is also home to Tasmania's oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
That's a source of considerable pride for the former Moores Hill Estate co-founder.
Thorpe took up his management role at Legana in early 2017.
It followed the December 2016 purchase of the property by Launceston business owners Peter Bond, Ken Hudson and David Vautin.
"A lot of good wines have come from this vineyard over the years," Thorpe continues.
"There's a bit of die-back here now - along with a few other vine diseases - so we've had to do a lot of work to set the vineyard up for its next 50 years of production."
Equally important is the need to preserve and highlight - wherever possible - the vineyard legacies left behind by previous owners.
A handful of Legana wines made by Wiltshire during the 1970s and 1980s earned significant acclaim, including Tasmania's first wine show gold medal.
The property's 1982 Heemskerk Cabernet Sauvignon went within a whisker of winning Melbourne's prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1983.
Initial vineyard planting material was sourced from Coonawarra's legendary Eric Brand.
The South Australian reputedly collected the cuttings himself before sending them on to Wiltshire.
New ownership in 1984 and subsequent leasing arrangements enabled Launceston psychiatrist Dr Steve Hyde to establish his highly successful Rotherhythe label.
Next came Devonport couple Micheal and Mary Wilson, who purchased the site in November 2001, renaming it 'Velo.'
Today, Legana Estate wines continue to be sold under this Velo label.
Thorpe says some of the vines added by the former Olympic cyclist and European road racer have been in production for almost two decades.
That's prompted post replacement and re-trellising on some blocks.
Remediation elsewhere has focussed on vine architecture and nutrition, as well as drip irrigation.
"Our big old Cabernet vines are looking pretty good after a bit of feeding and composting," Thorpe explains.
"Having old vines with roots that go a long way down gives us a big advantage in dry seasons. Our crop levels tend to be well balanced without having to remove too many leaves or drop excess fruit on the ground.
"But you've got to look after old vines. Over time, they do produce less and less fruit and that can be a worry. They make the best wines but it comes at a cost."
Vine replacement itself results in a loss of grape production, Thorpe adds.
But it seems he has acquired a happy knack of navigating a path around that by using the technique home gardeners refer to as 'layering.'
"We basically take a long branch or cane from an existing vine and bury it in the ground beside the plant," he explains.
"By encouraging it to develop its own roots, you can very quickly bring a new trunk up to the wire to create a new vine. You can then remove the mother vine.
"We've done that with some of our old Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
"Within two years, we've got fruit from them. I did try propagating vines from cuttings, but layering vines works a lot better than growing them from scratch."
Trial applications of compost and a charcoal-like substance called biochar have worked wonders with new vines.
Indeed, the boost in soil carbon has been so successful that Thorpe is looking to extend the initiative throughout the vineyard.
"We've almost doubled our tonnages since vintage 2017," Thorpe says.
"We're going to need it. We're having an incredible year at the cellar door."
PICK OF THE CROP
2016 Velo Sparkling Rosé $45
Tasmania dominates the premium sparkling wine market in Australia. That's not just due to the state's cool climate, it reflects growing confidence and expertise in viticulture and winemaking.
Vintage 2016 was an outstanding year for fine fizz and this is a delicious Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend from the Tamar Valley.
Its gentle red fruit Pinot Noir characters provide a round, smooth mid-palate before Chardonnay jumps behind the wheel to drive the wine's crisp and lingering finish.
The texture is very satisfying and builds further with time in the glass. Like many sparkling Rosés, it's food friendly. Serve with smoked salmon blinis.
2020 Freycinet Vineyard Riesling $30
Freycinet Vineyard on Tasmania's sunny East Coast has been a stomping ground for top-notch Riesling since the property's earliest vintages.
Claudio Radenti's new releases are a joy to behold - invariably fresh, vibrant and citrussy, with subtle white flower fragrance to enhance the lemon and lime aromas.
The 2020 is simply delightful with regional scale fish and oysters.
It was a challenging vintage in these parts but this youngster has real pizzazz, albeit at the delicate end of the flavour spectrum.
It's crisp, dry and tightly focussed.
Expect some subtle toastiness to develop with extended cellaring, adding further interest and enjoyment.
2020 Craigow Pinot Noir $50
Pinot Noir was first planted on Barry and Cathy Edwards' historic property of Craigow in 1987. It's those 33-year-old vines that contribute to the surprising length and intensity of this new cellar door release.
Significant reworking of vine architecture has resulted in a contemporary expression of Pinot Noir with great charm and considerable refinement. Indeed, this is a much more nuanced Pinot than is typical for the Coal River Valley.
Look for red cherry fruit with a hint of plum and understated oak in this very elegant, savoury style.
Partner with BBQ quail. It should keep for a decade or so.
- 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.