There isn’t a lot down the east coast other than beautiful coastline but there are a few places to sample a drink. We highly recommend the Ironhouse Point Centre and Gala Estate. Both are wonderful locations with a great selection of drink for tasting.
Ironhouse Point Brewery, Vineyard and Distillery
This massive complex by the sea is a combined restaurant, convention centre and hotel. They have a separate tasting station away from the bar and restaurant, so tasting sessions are more intimate and focused on tasting instead of just drinking.
We were surprised to find that not only did they do beer, but also wine and vodka. We tried everything, despite it being 10 o’clock in the morning.
First off the bat was the Grape Vodka, triple distilled for extra smoothness. It was basically just grappa, but good.
Beer tasting followed. There were six beers on the paddle – a wheat beer (4.7%) with soft unripe banana and clove flavours, a lager (4.7%) full of Cascade hops and a subtle honey flavour, our favourite – the Belgian Fox – a golden beer with coriander in the grist and flavoured with fruity Motueka hops.
On the more flavourful side of the paddle was the Belgian Pale Ale – a sweet beer with a good, smooth balance of bitter malt flavours, the Pale Ale (5.2%), a bronze beer with heaps of hoppy bitterness, and the Porter (5.2%), a very dark beer with lots of coffee and dark chocolate flavours that was surprisingly not too bitter.
Ironhouse Point did their first brew in 2007 and opened the complex in 2009. If you’re after a souvenir, pick up a growler for $7 and pay an additional $18 to fill it with your favourite beer.
We then moved on to the wines. They had a few white wines, as well as a pinot noir because it’s the best stuff to grow in the Tassie climate. Our favourites included the Sparkling White, a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. It had heaps of supple apple flavours but was still very light and crisp. We also loved the Pinot Noir, a wine matured for 3 months in the bottle, with heaps of fruity plums and dark cherry flavours. It was a smooth, light and hesitantly dry wine.
The most interesting wine of the day was the Sauvignon Blanc. All we could taste was ASPARAGUS! This was highly unusual for us! The wine was clear, crisp and acidic with some grassy tones as well.
This winery is owned by Brown Brothers so we were expecting some great things from this place. The Cellar Door overlooked the valley to Moulting Lagoon and adjacent to it was a lookout. Both the cellar door and the lookout building seemed to be made from shipping containers – and while this may be trendy for some, we heard that some of the locals don’t like it.
As predicted, we did enjoy a few of their wines. The NV Sparkling Cuvee was lovely, light and easy to drink with 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir. They had a great selection of Pinot Noir and we found something we liked in each one. Of course, with our expensive tastes, the Resolution Pinot Noir 2014, which spent 9 months in French oak for smooth mouth feels, cherry tart flavours and complexity and structure, was a winner, as well as the Mt Amos 2014 Vintage, a rich coloured wine with 12 months in French oak and a dryness that washes away quickly.
Our tasting session was hosted by John the comedian. He immediately congratulated us for being there to taste the wine, and because we didn’t introduce ourselves, Dave was dubbed Jason and Juz was Olivia. We called him Bruce.
This winery had a great and interesting selection of wines. We highly recommend a visit if you want to try something off the beaten track.
Our favourites included a 2013 Louis Riesling/Schӧnburger, with 85% Riesling and 15% Schӧnburger grapes. It still had about 18 grams of residual sugar to give it a hint of sweetness, while still maintaining a light and crisp flavour. A white wine that Dave actually liked! We bought a bottle.
We also enjoyed the Riesling and Chardonnay, but once we got past the reds to the 2011 Botrytis, we were in heaven. This was the last botrytis they had made since in 2004, and it was bright yellow with honey and apricot flavours. And with 200g of residual sugar, it was rich, thick and syrupy.
One of our favourite wineries, not just because of the wine but the history of the cellar door. There was an old man named Theodore Castle who lived in that house. He had a simple life – cooked on a cast iron stove, didn’t have electricity, and kept busy by fishing and hunting for kangaroos. He died in 2009 and in 2010, Gala Estate bought the property and gave it a new life.
The small yield of wines produced by the Gala Estate are high quality and worth the stop. They have a marvellous 2012 Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay that has creamy and yeasty qualities, perfect to pair with a nice brie cheese.
They also have a great selection of Pinot Noirs, our favourite being the 2011 First Vintage – silky and fruity after 12 months in French oak. If you enjoy a sweet wine, give their late harvest Riesling a go as well. It only has 85.2 grams of residual sugar so it’s not overly sweet, but it is still full of honeysuckle and apricot flavours.
Spring Vale Winery
We were the first through the cellar door to try wines that day. We highly recommend trying their 2015 Gewürztraminer with exotic fruit flavours and a persistent, peppery finish, as well as the Sticky Gewürztraminer, a sweet dessert wine that might not be available much longer due to its popularity.