The 2016/2017 season could not be more different than the previous season. It’s been incredibly wet and cool down in Tasmania, compared to the hot, dry summer we experienced the year before. This means we’ve seen LOTS of growth on the vines. Poor Tim hasn’t left his tractor seat since the start of January.
Why? In cooler spells, vines need to be “trained” so the shoots grow up and the fruit (grape bunches) are at the bottom of the shoots where they’re more exposed to sunlight and air. Once the shoots are firmly positioned with wires in an upright fashion, we trim any lateral shoots and shoot tops to form a nice, neat canopy.
Then we can then leaf pluck! This involves removing the leaves that are shading the fruit to allow even more airflow and sunlight. The sunlight allows for good tannin development in red wines and also helps reduce disease outbreaks. The airflow is essential for the grape bunches to dry out quickly after rain, preventing them from going rotten.
In the top pictureyou can't see any bunches because the leaves have not been removed, however in the bottom picture you can see bunches as the leaves have been removed. We only remove leaves on the Eastern side of the vine so the grape berries don't get damaged by the afternoon sun. These pictures were taken in the afternoon, so the exposed fruit are in the shade and the grapes on the sunnyside are protected from the hotter afternoon sun.
Normally we would trim and leaf pluck only once, but Tim is on his third round of trimming and second round of leaf plucking, not to mention all the slashing of the grass – it’s out of control!
Despite the difficulties with all the vigour in the vineyard, the grapes are growing well. They’re currently going through a process called verasion (green ripening) where they start to soften and the red grapes begin to colour. Due to the cool conditions, veraison is about 10 days later than “normal” (although in Tassie, there is no normal!). Last year, our first pick was on 29 February, but I suspect first pick will be later this time round… and harvest for sparkling wines will start mid to late March.
In the winery, we’re busy getting wines into bottle to make way for the new vintage. The 2016 Pinot Noir is now blended and awaiting filtration and bottling, and I will be blending up the Chardonnay in the next week or two. We are also tiraging our 2016 Sparkling. This is the process of adding sugar and yeast to our sparkling wine base and bottling it for bottle fermentation and maturation – check out the video below to watch triaging in action. Fingers crossed the yeast does its thing and we have pristine bubbly Tassie sparkling for you this time next year!
It’s no secret that one of the best parts of being on holidays is the food, and the deliciousness on offer in Tasmania doesn’t disappoint. Long brunches at cool cafés, eating out at a fab new restaurant or bar every night, and wine tastings at the Holm Oak cellar door are what days spent in and around Launceston are made of.
If you’re staying in Launceston, there are must-visit places to add to your daily menu. Including a drive to the Tamar Valley to spend the day with us at Holm Oak, chatting with Bec about her winemaking philosophy or checking in with our General Manager, Pinot d’ Pig (he loves an apple!), while enjoying the beautiful range of our home-grown wines and local produce on offer. We’d love to see you (and feed you!).
Browse through our hot 5 tips on where to eat…
Geronimo Aperitivo Bar & Restaurant
Open Monday to Saturday from 5pm til late, with lunch thrown in the mix Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Geronimo is every foodie’s happy place. And if you just can’t decide what to try, the Geronimo team of experts can put together a whole food experience menu for you. Sit back and soak up the timber bar surrounds and dark accents at Gerominos – and enjoy a great meal to boot!
A hop, skip and a jump from the Royal Park and North Esk River, Cinco Passiones is the perfect spot for a late afternoon (or late-night) beverage. With a drinks list that includes cocktails, craft brews, wine and even high tea, this quaint bar is the perfect pre- or post- outing stop. Oh, and dairy fans unite… the cheese plates are a must!
Start the day right with a coffee made entirely from local beans and milk at Amelia’s Espresso. Open from 7am, this always buzzing café has an energetic vibe which makes for a great meeting place, and although they don’t serve full meals, there are plenty of delicious, locally produced snacks (including gluten-free) on offer to stop the tummy rumbling!
A Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine award winner in 2016, Stillwater is the quintessential Tasmanian eatery in the prettiest location you ever did see. With complete breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that evolve with the seasons, Stillwater offers your tastebuds everything from their very own toasted granola and rye waffles in the AM, to seared Tasmanian scallops and slow-roasted Mount Gnomon Farm pork belly in the PM, along with an award-winning wine list. We’re a fan of the brekky but you could eat here all day!
Penny Royal Launceston
One for the family. What better combo could you ask for than “adventures and dining” all under one roof? At Penny Royal you can go from restaurant to sailing, café to rock-climbing, or ice creamery to movie night… For the grownups in the group, take a sip of the local wines at Penny Royal’s cellar door or just join in with the kids fossicking in the stream bed for beautiful gem stones after a convict pizza. There is SO much to eat, try, do and explore at this iconic Launceston stop, you might need more than a day to cover it all!
So folks, it’s that time of year again. Every pig (and person) is dashing about in a flap, ticking peeps off their Christmas list, planning for festive functions and generally getting themselves in a tizz in this crazy lead-up to ONE DAY!
Never fear. Pinot D’Pig is here. It would be remiss of me not to help you fly through this period with a few wise words from the Pen. I don’t know much, but I know my wines, given my family roots and all. So let’s start with Christmas Day lunch. What are you going to drink with all that food? How will you appease Aunt Joan who only drinks pink fizz? And what about Bob, the orphan neighbour with no family in the hood who knocks on your door at 11am and is always the last to leave…?
Holm Oak has a drop for everyone. Let’s start with the arrivals. If you don’t love a good Tassie sparkling, I don't trust you. Holm Oak’s bubbly is the newest wine in Bec and Tim’s collection and it’s damn fine. Fine beading, fine flavours, fine finish – it’s a beauty. Buy a Six-Pack – it will see you through until at least 12.30pm, even with Bob around.
It’s lunchtime and now we’re looking for a drop to pair with the roast birds and erm, maybe a roast piggie or two. Serious wine lovers swear by white with most meats on the paler side, so go for Holm Oak’s Chardonnay. Its rich succulence marries fiercely with that full porky flavour we all love. And there’s enough acidity to cleanse the palate after chowing down on a cheeky spot of crackling. Hot foot it to our blog post for a top recipe for Pinot d’Pig-approved Roast Pork with Apples & Cider.
Serious drinkers move into the red spectrum about halfway through the main meal, so plonk a bottle of Pinot Noir on the table and watch jaws drop when they savour the opulence of Holm Oak’s top-tier Tassie expression, aptly christened The Wizard. Its big and rich palate and silky tannins scream Merry Christmas! It’s a winner.
But what about Auntie Joan? Don’t get your knickers in a knot – we’ve thought of everyone. Holm Oak’s Pig & Pooch Moscato tastes of floral, musk and spice, and all things nice. And it sits well with a fruit flan, a fruitcake or any fruity cousin who’s misbehaving. Low in alcohol (6.5%), light on carbonation, high in appeal.
I do hope this rundown helps plan a suitably stable yet entertaining festive celebration. If none of these wines floats your boat, head on over to Holm Oak’s wine page and choose your own adventure. I won’t hold it against you.
If you fancy sharing, head to my Facebook page and tell me all about your own festivities.
High hooves to one and all.
Did you know the Tamar Valley Region – the home of Holm Oak – is under an hour’s drive from beautiful Launceston? That’s less than a whole episode of The Block. So if you’re planning a Tasmanian escape this summer and want to check out gorgeous scenery, sip on delicious Holm Oak wines and meet our very friendly swine Pinot d’ Pig, come to our cellar door and stay for the day.
Our cellar door is always open (between 11am and 5pm that is!) with all our great wines available for tasting. Dry or sweet, light or full-bodied drops, the choice is yours. We also have our home-grown cider available for tasting. Winning! Your wines can be taken to the next level with a range of local produce, including cheese, terrines and salmon.
Bring the kids, who can take apples from our on-site orchard and feed our resident Pinot d’Pig. We might be off the beaten track, but we’d love to welcome you to Holm Oak one day this summer.
Other hot spots to check out on your way to Holm Oak…
Just a hop, skip and a jump from Holm Oak vineyards is the always interesting Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre, where you can learn about the history of the Beaconsfield Mines, engage with over 10,000 historical pieces from Beaconsfield and the Tamar Valley, and interact with buttons, tunnels and levers throughout the grounds while searching for gold. There’s even a 3D experience to take you into the mine and discover what lies beneath.
Another must for your time in Launceston is to discover the great outdoors and there’s no better place to do that than at The Cataract Gorge. Only a 15-minute walk from Launceston’s city centre is mother nature at her best. Take a ride on the Scenic Chairlift and view the gorgeous surrounds from high above, wander the pathway along the cliff face and take in the views of the South Esk River, or chow down on a Basin Burger or some Creamy Seafood Chowder for lunch at the Basin Café. Day sorted.
Ever wondered what a Seahorse farm might look like? Wonder no more. Born from research by local marine biologists to help protect the species, Seahorse World in Beauty Point (around 50 minutes from Launceston) gets you up close and personal with this underwater creature in its unique habitat. The Cave of the Seahorse exhibit features various types of seahorses, while The Southern Ocean Aquarium – where the headline act meets seadragons, cuttlefish and even sharks – provides a sensory overload of the aquatic kind. Plus, the kids will love the touch pool so much, you’ll be hard pressed to get them outta there.
Off to market
Every Saturday from 8.30am to 12.30pm the local farmers and friendly volunteers get together to host the Harvest Launceston, Community Farmers’ Market to show off their produce and sell their wares. Chat to the stallholders about how best to cook their delicious local produce and discover what’s in season, or stop and have a bite of tasty ready-to-eat foods on offer. Korean pancakes or Tasmania’s best seafood plates, anyone? It’s a must visit.
Talk to the animals
After a day out and about driving through Tamar Valley to Launceston, keep heading south as the sun sets, and meet the local fauna. Low Head Penguin Tours is a beautiful family experience you’ll never forget. Gathering at the Coastal Reserve beach, which is right on magnificent Bass Straight, where you’ll see Little Blue Penguins (you might know them as Fairy Penguins) waddle onto the beach from the water. If you listen really carefully you might hear them sing when they come out of the surf. It’s Happy Feet in real life! For tour details, read more.
All Hail Riesling, King of the Grapes.
Riesling reigns in both the old (European) and new (everywhere else) worlds of wine. Its “King of the Grapes” moniker comes from its reputation for being versatile, sturdy and ageworthy, with pure fruit flavours that tell authentic stories of the grapes’ provenance. Wine enthusiasts call it a ‘noble’ variety, which is another way of calling it an ‘International Variety’ label, as it’s grown and enjoyed in most wine-producing countries of the world. A noble variety also has the ability to evolve into a great wine that speaks volumes of its provenance. At Holm Oak, we grow and produce most of the noble varieties, and Riesling is one of our favourites.
So it’s music to our ears that Riesling is enjoying a revival of sorts. There are so many reasons why this ancient variety is so hot right now. Let us count the ways…
First, our eating habits have changed over the last decade or so. We’re eating lighter, more health-conscious foods like salads and seafood that lend themselves to wines with clean, zippy fruit flavours discovered in a chilled glass of Riesling. And despite the cool temperatures we experience in Tassie, the rest of the continent sweats through a long, hot summer season, which can begin in September and extend right through to March or April. So it’s a no-brainer that drinking refreshing whites is far more appealing than glugging heavy reds.
Secondly, the way Riesling is being crafted by loads of winemakers these days brings the refreshingly racy flavours to the fore. Take a sip of Holm Oak’s Riesling and bite into a perfectly ripe Pink Lady apple. The balanced fruit flavours are not affected by oak, tannins or other secondary elements. The essence of the wine smacks of pristine cool-climate fruit with palate-cleansing zestiness.
Thirdly, this variety can age. Oh yes it can! When the vineyard and winemaking conditions are right, it can develop complexity for years to come. So why can Riesling age when other white varieties scream ‘drink me!’ when they clock a year in the cellar? Because Riesling’s naturally occurring high levels of acidity make it primed to develop gracefully over time. (Some German Rieslings have been known to not only age but improve to 100 years of age!) Certainly not every Riesling has the propensity (or the intention) to age. Generally, with forethought from the winemaker, a Riesling will reach its peak drinking age 15-20 years after its vintage year. Depending on the region in which it’s produced and other factors such as winemaking technique and the wine’s position on the dry-to-sweet spectrum, Riesling can develop lovely flavours and aromas of toast and honey, peaches, nectarines and apricots through the course of ageing.
On the dry end of the spectrum, Rieslings tend to lose their citrus overtones and develop more minerally, smoky characteristics. In sweeter Rieslings, the fruit becomes more subtle as the sugar and the acids integrate, rendering the wine a fuller, richer drop. In fact, high levels of residual sugar in Riesling act as a natural preservative.
All of the above goes a fair way to explaining why Riesling is considered King of the Grapes. The best way to discover its brilliance is to drink it up. So jump over to Holm Oak’s range and try one for yourself. Holm Oak’s Riesling embodies all the wonders of this noble variety, with amazing aromatics of lime and jasmine, mineral characteristics on the palate and steely acidity all the way through to the very last aftertaste. We dare you not to get hooked.
Roast Pork with Apples and Cider
2kg boneless pork leg roast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
500g eschalots, peeled or red onions, chopped
355ml Holm Oak apple cider
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 large apples, sliced into thick wedges
1. Preheat oven to 200°C fan-forced. Pat pork rind dry with paper towel and score with a sharp knife. Place pork in a large, flameproof baking dish. Rub all over with oil, then salt. Roast for 25 minutes or until rind is golden and crackled.
2. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C fan-forced. Place eschalots or onions around pork. Add cider, garlic, stock and fennel seeds. Season with pepper. Roast, covered, for 2 hours 30 minutes. Remove cover. Add apples. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until apples are just tender.
3. Transfer pork, eschalots and apples to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Place baking dish with pan juices over high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Slice pork. Serve with eschalots, apple and sauce, and a glass of Holm Oak’s Pinot Noir. Cheers!
Recipe inspired by Kim Coverdale’s recipe in August 2010 Super Food Ideas issue. Image by Rob Palmer.
The Wizard – ever wondered why our premium estate-grown Pinot Noir carries this moniker? It’s because our vineyards are steeped in sporting history. Yes, an unlikely match – sport and winemaking – but one that we are proud of nonetheless.
You see, in the 1930s, the original use of our fertile Tamar Valley site was to grow Holm Oak trees, whose durable trunks would end up at the Alexander Patent Racquet Company. In those days, the Alexander factory toyed with the idea of crafting a new style of racquet, one with a semi-flat top – an innovation for the time. It was this racquet, named The Wizard (a nickname given to Sir Norman Brookes during his winning days) that was used by Jack Crawford to win Wimbledon in 1933.
In a fortuitous turn of events, the wood from the Holm Oak trees didn’t meet the Alexander Factory’s high standards to be crafted into racquets. And herein lies the kicker – the racquet industry’s loss was the Tassie wine industry’s gain. In 1983, instead of focusing on racquet production, grape vines were planted in our rich land, rendering Holm Oak one of the oldest vineyards in Tasmania. Those original Pinot Noir Cabernet and Riesling plantings continue to yield superb fruit and we have since planted Arneis, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz and a lot more Pinot Noir
Here’s how our 14 hectares are divided:
1 hectare of Riesling, which consists of three clones established in 1991
1 hectare of Sauvignon Blanc, established in 2005
1.5 hectares of Pinot Gris, established in 2007 and 2013
1.5 hectares of Chardonnay, made up of two clones, established in 2007 and 2008
6.5 hectares of Pinot Noir. Clones currently planted include: MV6, D5V12, 114, 115, 777, D4V2 and 521. The first two clones were established in 1983 making them some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in Tasmania.
2 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, established in 1983
0.3 hectares of Merlot, established in 2013
Vine spacing? It varies from 2000 to 4000 vines to the hectare. The plantings post-2007 are just more than 2000 vines to hectare. All plantings run north/south to maximise their exposure to the sun.
Let’s talk viticulture
We carry out the majority of our own vineyard management – these berries in production are our “other children”, so it’s vital we keep a firm hand and keen eye on vineyard changes and fruit quality outcomes.
In our experience, arched cane VSP (vertical shoot positioned) seems to produce the best results. We prune the majority of the vineyard this way. During the growing season we shoot-thin, leaf-pluck and remove shoulder bunches if necessary. We may need to trim tops of shoots prior to veraison (on-set of ripening) depending on the level of vigour (and by golly, those little berry babies can get vigorous!). We only leaf pluck the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling on the eastern side of the vine.
Irrigation is used cautiously on some of our older vines to maintain good growth with the level of rainfall received during the year. By the way, annual rainfall in the Rowella area of the Tamar Valley sits at about 700-800mm.
Harvesting of fruit
Our premium parcels of fruit are harvested by hand – and parcels harvested on any given day are reasonably small. Working in this micro capacity allows us to identify nuances in different parcels of fruit and process them accordingly in the winery. We keep our fruit sorting action as close to the picking source as possible, so most of it goes on in the vineyard. Any inferior or diseased bunches are removed prior to picking, or are selected by our small, well-trained picking team. To date, we’ve found we can keep our fruit reasonably defect free in the vineyard, so the need to use a sorting table is avoided.
Time for a Tim snapshot: agronomy is my thing. What’s that? Agronomy is the use of science and technology for maximizing plant production; more specifically, focusing on maximising the crop yields while preserving a healthy eco-soil system. I worked in that field for a large horticultural firm for more than 10 years. Add to this my background as a third-generation hands-on grape grower and together with Bec, we make a formidable team in the vineyard and in the winery.
But back to viticulture. Our growing philosophy is to produce the cleanest fruit with the softest management practices available. This involves using some organic and soft modern chemistry. We’re in the process of adopting a few organic measures on a larger scale but we’ve seen disastrous results from the use of these practices elsewhere so we’re proceeding with caution, believing these practices are more easily adopted in lower rainfall areas. We’re also challenged by the use of the lunar cycle for vineyard management practices. Yes, biodynamic practices.
But in general, as a result of stringent export requirements, the Australian wine industry as a whole adopts quite a minimalist approach when it comes to chemical usage. And at Holm Oak, we follow suit.
We don’t mind saying that Tasmania enjoys a climate that can deliver super premium wines. It’s that simple. Our region is one of only a handful of places in Australia regarded as producing superior Pinot Noir table and sparkling wines. Why? Tassie is cold. Our moderate maritime climate is further cooled by westerlies off the Southern Ocean, providing conditions that are generally (and thankfully) free from extremes. Mild spring and summer temperatures, with warm autumn days and cool nights, allow the grapes to ripen slowly on the vine, resulting in maximum varietal flavour development. This maturation happens without squandering that essential natural acid that affords Tasmania’s wines their pristine freshness and balance.
Fortunately for us, the Tasmanian landscape is dwarfed by dolerite-capped mountains – their robust presence shelters our vineyards from damaging winds and heavy rainfall. On the lower slopes, the vineyard soils are formed from ancient sandstones and mudstones, as well as from more recent river sediments and igneous rock of volcanic origin.
Back at Holm Oak, we sit on a few different soil types but the majority is acidic grey kandosol on Permian mudstone. Some of the land area is deemed too rocky for viticultural production with quite a bit of sheet rock that only blasting can penetrate. But thankfully, most of our dirt is fertile and abundant with natural minerals – it’s this fertility that attracted the planters of our original Holm Oak trees to put down roots in our neck of the woods.
So we thank you, Alexander Patent Racquet Company, for choosing our site – if it wasn’t for your (failed) attempts to craft gorgeously sturdy tennis racquets we wouldn’t be growing pristine Tassie fruit in our Tamar Valley home.
Now, that’s a Grand Slam.
Hi there, my name is Pinot ‘d’ Pig. Holm Oak’s General Manager.
A pig. For real? Absolutely. Why not? Pigs are highly social creatures, with incredible long-term memories and cognitive complexities. We are smart, damn it. The most underrated creatures of d animal kingdom. Our smarts are only met by our superlative sense of humour – Jerry Seinfeld (if you’re still alive), eat your heart out. My mates’ tummies jiggle and snouts snort when I regale them with my stand-up (or rather bum-down) routine.
Despite my crusty exterior, Holm Oak winery would not be d success it is today without my shrewd business directives and hospitable sensibility. I run d joint. And d joint gives me creative licence to be d incredible pig I was destined to be. Like any good manager, I wander d grounds, keeping a close eye on daily operations in d vineyards and winery with a keen eye (and nose) for detail.
My family tell me I embody d heart and soul of our winery. When I’m awake, my intention is certainly to enrapture Holm Oak’s visitors (check out my Facebook page that features my motivational video, and more). Although I struggle to keep up with Max and Will, Bec and Tim’s robust young fellas, who do their best to keep me fed and happy in my luxurious pigsty.
You wouldn’t know it, but I was supposed to be a miniature pig, but like all incredible feats of nature, I defied d odds, growing to be a full-size team member, and bringing my larger than life personality to d Holm Oak estate. Every good manager, however, has a weakness – toss me a couple of fresh apples (from Holm Oak’s own orchard I’ll have you know), and d worries of general management fade away into oblivion as sleep comes a knockin’.
My other weakness has to be my Fanta orange Datsun 200b – if you ever want a once over, drop me a line on my Facebook page. Happy to parade it in its full splendour with bonnet up and bits on show. It is pristine. Just like the terrain that delivers us d top-notch fruit for Holm Oak’s whiz-bang wines. Do yourself a favour and knock back a few before word gets out we’re d best Tassie wino on d block.
Visit Tamar Valley and discover a veritable feast of amazing producers – from wineries like our own Holm Oak, to dairy and honey farms and fresh fruit and vegetable growers. One of our top-shelf producers is Tamar Valley Truffles, located on Lake Trevallyn about 40 minutes south of Holm Oak, and only 15 minutes from Launceston CBD in Northern Tasmania.
The truffle is one of those highly covetable products crafted by Mother Nature – its arresting aroma and pungent flavour prompt foodies and chefs to refer to this fungi as “the diamond of the kitchen”. Restaurants pay thousands of dollars per kilogram for these magical foodie delights. But do you know how they actually grow? A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean fungus, one of the many species of the genus Tuber. In the right conditions, when the stars align, these fungi grow on the roots of trees. One of the factors in making the stars align in truffle production is ensuring you have the right tree and the right fungus.
Successful truffle cultivation requires hot summer temperatures and cold winter temperatures – climate is probably the primary issue. As a general rule, a mean daily temperature of about 20 degrees in January and mean daily temp of about 5 degrees in July is desirable. Therefore, Tasmania’s climate makes it the perfect breeding ground for the truffle.
Given truffles are fungi, they are usually found in close proximity to the roots of trees. Which trees? Certain species are best for truffle growth, including beech, poplar, hazel, birch, pine and oak.
Tamar Valley Truffles boasts 3000 oak trees planted over eight hectares of fertile north Tasmanian terroir. Quercus Robur (regular common deciduous English oak) and Quercus Ilex (a prickly leaf much like a small holly leaf) are planted alternately on the property. As an aside, Quercus Ilex is the botanical name for the Holm Oak tree, which is why Holm Oak Wines uses the name Ilex for one of our ranges of wines.
Like all truffle estates, some trees produce more frequently and more prolifically than others. Tamar Valley Truffles employs the use of a computer system to monitor each tree individually, showing the production in each row and the yield of that tree. With overlays it’s easy to see the rapid expansion of the production of the truffle plantation. Harvesting occurs at different times throughout the year depending on region and truffle species, but in Tassie, harvest period begins at the onset of winter through to September.
So when did truffle production begin in Tassie? In the early 1990s, after years of planning, a group of truffle aficionados decided to inoculate Tasmanian trees with the truffle fungus in the hope of creating a local truffle industry. Their hopes were well founded and instincts proved right. The first Australian truffles were harvested in Tasmania in 1999. Their success and the value of the subsequent truffles have encouraged a boutique industry to develop.
Tamar Valley Truffles is one of the most productive truffières (the French word for a truffle plantation) in Australia and the truffles that result from this producer’s hard work end up in restaurants and homes all over the country.
Head to Tamar Valley Truffle’s website to discover more about our fellow Tassie producer and to purchase its amazing delights, from truffle honey, cheddar and butter to truffle risotto, sea salt and brie.
The Holm Oak team has been crafting luscious expressions of cool-climate Tassie wines for more than 10 years – and the winery has gone from strength to strength. So how did this success come about? It’s worth considering the juxtaposition of the roles that Holm Oak’s team, Bec Duffy and her husband Tim Duffy, play.
Bec is winemaker. With 18 years experience gained in Australia and the US, she is well and truly ensconced in her winery domain. Tim is viticulturist, a third-generational grape grower and an agronomist with extensive viticultural experience. Their worlds collide occasionally – most often when they go about the business of raising their two young boys. But mostly they stick to their own worlds, with a singular goal in sight – to produce single vineyard wines with personality and character that reflect the place in which they live, Tasmania’s pristine Tamar Valley, and their own personalities, rustic, down to earth, not super polished but genuine and authentic.
The relationship shared by the winemaker and the viticulturist can be fraught with opposing short-term focuses and timing issues, but thankfully, Bec and Tim survive quite happily throughout harvest time, robust winemaking periods and all the bits in between. They are better off for their combined 360-degree view of the winemaking process.
One of Bec and Tim’s shared passions is to create things. They simply love to craft treasures from Mother Nature’s wonderland. They are creative winemakers, pushing boundaries and trying new techniques, but always remaining true to Tasmania’s highly regarded winemaking reputation.
Bec believes much of Holm Oak’s success can be attributed to Tim’s natural intuition as a viticulturist. “Tim once said to me that just because your kids behave a certain way one year, doesn’t mean they’ll behave the same way the next year, and vines are like that,” Bec explains. “At the end of the day you need to get out in the vineyard, look at how the vines are behaving and respond appropriately. Tim is very good at doing that.”
Bec is incredibly passionate about winemaking, and has been since the day she left high school. After a short work experience stint at Pipers Brook, Bec hightailed it to Adelaide University where she studied for a Bachelor of Agricultural Science majoring in Oenology.
“Even though I didn’t grow up in a wine area and my parents didn’t drink wine, I knew from the time I was 14 that I wanted to be a winemaker,” Bec says. “I enjoyed agriculture, biology and chemistry at school and thought that winemaking might be fun.”
Her vision of winemaking, not just for Holm Oak, but for the Tamar Valley and Tasmania as a whole, saw her win The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Rural Women’s 2016 Award. As Australia’s pre-eminent award for regional women, it supports emerging female leaders who have the commitment and leadership potential to make a greater contribution to primary industries and rural communities. As the winner, Bec will visit cellar doors and wineries throughout Australia, the US and South Africa, with the assistance of the $10,000 prize.
Bec believes Tasmania is well positioned to become one of the world’s greatest touring destinations for agricultural and wine tourism, and the end goal of her study tour is to inject fresh ideas into the Tasmanian wine industry. “My project is to do a cellar door study tour, and discover unique and dynamic cellar door experiences to bring back to Tasmania and the Tamar Valley in particular,” she says. “A lot of cellar door experiences in Australia represent standard tastings. We want to create something different and compelling to give people a reason to visit us.”
Together, Bec and Tim intend to make Holm Oak a successful sustainable business while raising their family in one of this country’s most distinctive and hospitable places. Try one of Holm Oak’s wines and you’ll notice they’re packed with flavour and a wonderful natural acidity. Bec believes this natural acidity is a covetable asset from their Tassie terroir and results as an important attribute in the wines as it gives lightness and balance, built around the texture and flavour composition. Lately, Holm Oak’s wines are also benefitting from a more minimalist approach, with an increase in the percentage of natural fermentation and reduction in additives and finings.
Each month we are giving away a Holm Oak wine twin-pack valued at $120 just for signing up to receive our enewsletter and special offers!