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.
Meet the team
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.