The demand for Tasmanian winemaking facilities is rising strongly as new plantings increase and more grapes are grown each year.

Key points:

  • A couple of years after being placed into liquidation, a winemaking centre in Tasmania is back on track
  • Two new wineries are under construction in the Coal River Valley as the industry expands
  • Winemaking at one of the new wineries means grapes won’t have to be transported to the mainland

It was only a couple of years ago when the biggest commercial winemaking facility in the state, at Cambridge, was placed into liquidation after losing millions of dollars.

Now with new owners and a change in operation, Tas Vintners is ready to lift production of grapes from 1,200 tonnes to more than 4,000 tonnes in the next three harvests.

Chief winemaker and manager of the Cambridge plant Liam McIllhenny said that would mean hiring up to 10 more staff to add to the 20 or so full-time equivalents already on board.

A man stands in front of a shelf of wine bottles.

Chief winemaker at Tas Vintners, Liam McIllhenny, at the Cambridge plant.(

ABC Rural: Tony Briscoe

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“It’s been a brilliant harvest for us and our clients, and funnily enough we are now under pressure to get some of the wine bottled,” Mr McIllhenny said.

“We make wine for 15 vineyards around the state and we are about to embark on a recruitment drive to fill some gaps as we are at full steam at the moment.

Wine barrels.

Wine stored in barrels at the new winemaking facility at Cambridge.(

ABC Rural: Tony Briscoe

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A mere 300 metres down the road from the Cambridge site a new winery is taking shape, ready to take on more Tasmanian grape growers.

Two well-known Tasmanian winemakers, Peter Dredge and James Broinowski, have joined forces with an unnamed backer to make their own wines and contract for vineyards across the state.

It was not an easy process for the pair to get help from the normal financial institutions for the project, costing more than $2 million to set up.

“When you say ‘agriculture’ the banks want to help you plant a vineyard, which is great, but there are so many vineyards across the state and not enough factories to process the grapes,” Mr Dredge said.

A big stainless steel tank laying on it side.

A huge stainless steel tank on its side waiting to be put in place at the winery.(

ABC Rural: Tony Biscoe

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Winemaking infrastructure plays catch-up

The site of the new winery was just a dirt paddock in December, and their backer built the huge structure to specifically hold large tanks and a bottling line imported from Germany, as well as cold rooms and plenty of storage space.

The expansion of wineries in the Coal River Valley does not end there, as another state-of-the-art winery is almost complete at the Jansz Parish Vineyard, just outside Richmond.

A wood-clad winery building.

The new winery at the Parish Vineyard under construction.(

ABC Rural : Tony Briscoe

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The Hill-Smith family-owned label is one of Tasmania’s largest sparkling wine producers, and normally the grapes picked in Tasmania at Piper’s River near Launceston and the Coal River Valley in the south would be shipped to Angaston in South Australia for processing and bottling.

From next year’s harvest, all the grapes from the three vineyards owned by the company will be handled at the new winery which will also have a cave underneath as a homage to sparkling wine.

Jen Doyle is in charge of the winemaking, while James Aubrey manages the vineyard.

He said the new winery will mean winters on the site will never be the same, but there are plenty of upsides.

A big blue grape harvester sits quietly in a new winery at Penna

The grape harvester now being used at the Jansz Parish Vineyard.(

ABC Rural: Tony Briscoe

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“We have a new grape harvester on-site and the winery means we can pick the grapes at optimum times and have them in the crusher without any travelling or delays,” Mr Aubrey said.

Tasmanian winemaking facilities go from bust to boom as growers push for local bottling
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