Written by Lilani Goonesena.
The Tamar Valley north of Launceston is yet another beautiful part of Tasmania. Brilliant blue skies and neat rows of curled brown stalks on rolling green hills stretch in every direction.
The Tamar is known for its cool climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines. And one of its flagship producers is the award-winning Josef Chromy Wines, the fourth largest winery in the region.
Josef Chromy is a famous figure in the Tasmania wine industry and a true self-made success story. He developed and sold many well-known wineries including Jansz, Bay of Fires, and Tamar Ridge before opening his apical winery in 2007 at age 74. Now, at age 83, he is still very much involved in the business.
Dave Milne, the sales and marketing manager showed us around the winery.
“70 per cent of wines in Tasmania are sparkling, and our location is perfect for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – the building blocks of sparkling wines”, he said. “The vineyard runs 2km down the side of a hill. The slopes allow for gentle air movement and provide a natural barrier to frost, and we’re protected on three sides by mountains”.
Alongside Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the vineyard grows Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. One third of their grapes go to contract buyers but the rest, all handpicked, are for the three Josef Chromy labels. The entry label, Pepik, refers to Joe’s nickname in his homeland, Czechoslovakia. Zdar is the limited release label and the name of Joe’s hometown. It also means ‘success’ in English.
The state of the art winery is the most advanced in Tasmania and is designed for minimal handling. “Our equipment is very gentle with the grapes”, said Dave.
Its innovative machinery includes the Smart Plunger, co-invented by Joe, which extracts colour and flavour from the skins during fermentation, a time-intensive process normally done by hand.
The winery is also innovative in its use of lightweight, low carbon, bottles for their Pepik label, a water-recycling plant and 400 solar panels to power the winery, restaurant and cellar door.
It was fascinating to visit such a successful winery and learn about their winemaking. Hanz Gueco, a chef from Café Paci in Sydney said, “As chefs we rarely delve into the wine side, which is half of the business. I really enjoyed seeing the whole picture from barrel to bottle”.