Review: Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston with Prestige Tours Tasmania inner banner

Review: Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston with Prestige Tours Tasmania

Immerse yourself in one of Tasmania's most beautiful landscapes and taste a variety of top drops on this small group Tamar Valley wine tour from Launceston. It's a decadent day of grape grazing.
Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston
Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston. Image: Adam Ford

Top Oz Tours offers a great range of Launceston tours and experiences. You can browse the options here.

Tassie has turned on a day that only our island state can.

The soft morning sunshine glitters on the water of the Tamar as we make our way north from Launceston through the river’s eponymous valley and wine producing region, past trim hillside vineyards, rolling fields of deep green, groves of native bushland and riotous explosions of colour from roadside gardens tumbling over old country fences. If you were to try and define paradise in Oz, this landscape would have to be a serious contender.

Our guide David shares some of the region’s history and heritage. He’s not a local, but you wouldn’t know unless he chose to tell you. Both his knowledge of the region and its wine scene, and his passion for sharing it with visitors, are hugely impressive.

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Launceston Tours, Activities & Attractions

I’m travelling with Prestige Tours Tasmania on their full day Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston. There’s also a half day option available. During the course of the day we’ll visit up to six wineries (depending on time) for included tastings, and enjoy a grazing platter lunch with a glass of wine. Our transport is clean and comfortable. There’s generally a maximum of six guests per tour, which keeps things very intimate. Today’s group is made up of myself, another Aussie, two Brits, and David at the wheel, and we’re soon chatting away like old friends.

Tassie is predominantly known for cool climate wines like chardonnay and pinot noir. However, lovers of heavier reds like shiraz and merlot shouldn’t go into a cold sweat. You will encounter some bolder drops on this tour. It’s also interesting to hear from David that while Tassie’s wine grape production accounts for less than 1% of the national total, the fruit fetches in excess of three or four times the national average price. Good things do indeed come in small tonnages.

Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston
Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston. Image: Adam Ford

It’s not long before we make our first stop of the day. Boutique family-run Velo Wines is home to some of the oldest vines in the state. The cellar door is simple and stylish. It’s the perfect showcase for the vineyard’s handpicked and largely handcrafted wines. The sparkling rose is magic, and the award-winning cabernet shiraz has personality plus. Onsite eatery Timbre Kitchen is open for lunch Thursday through to Sunday, and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. I take a quick squiz at the menu and find myself vowing, ‘I’ll be back.’

Watch our video of ten great things to do in Launceston:

Ten Great Things to do in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, 2024 | Launceston Travel Guide

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Our next stop is Tamar Ridge, where it’s all about pinot noir. Owned by wine giant Brown Brothers, half the estate is devoted to growing pinot fruit. The cellar door offers a tasting flight of four pinot noir vintages, best enjoyed while you drink in the stunning valley views.

Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston
Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston: Tamar Ridge. Image: Adam Ford

From there, it’s a very short drive to Small Wonder Wines (formerly Goaty Hill Wines) — our lunch venue. But first, David swings by the Auld Kirk. This beautiful stone church dates back to the 1840s and was constructed largely by convict labour. It’s an enduring link with the region’s colonial past.

At Small Wonder, we taste a range of Certified Organic wines — including a seductive sparkling rose. Out comes our impressive lunch platter, which is chock-a-block with local bounty.

Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston
Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston: Small Wonder Wines. Image: Adam Ford

It’s no small task to drag ourselves away from this sublime setting and the remnants of the platter, but needs must. David takes us for a leisurely drive through the town of Beaconsfield — scene of the tragic mining accident of 2006 and the miraculous rescue of Todd Russell and Brant Webb two weeks later. While this tour doesn’t include a stop there, the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre is well worth seeing if you get the opportunity.

Heading south, we pull into roadside Loira Vines — a gorgeous boutique winery, ciderie, and brewhouse. Owned and operated solely by a husband and wife team (who visited the property on a wine tour in 2017 and decided to buy it!), this small property just couldn’t get any more delightful. It grows pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, and shiraz, and we try a selection of vintages in the characterful cellar door. There’s even some onsite accommodation, where guests can wake up overlooking the vineyard and a pond rimmed with rushes (and home to a platypus!).

Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston
Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston: Loira Vines. Image: Adam Ford

We have one final winery to visit — Swinging Gate Vineyard — and in terms of the wine itself, this is probably the most memorable stop of the day. You may not love them all, but you’ll certainly remember them. In the rustic, re-purposed machinery shed — now the estate’s cellar door — we meet owner and winemaker Doug, who talks us through the range. Highlights for me include the 2018 Sweet Blush — a sugary summer drop of 100% pinot gris with eight hours on skin, and the pungent Modern Monk Pinot Noir Pet Nat ’19 — based on the centuries-old process of bottling the wine before the fermentation process is complete (thought to have originated in the 15th century monasteries of the Loire Valley).

Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston
Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston: Swinging Gate Vineyard. Image: Adam Ford

We all troop down into the vineyard to check out the Domescapes glamping domes — futuristic tented accommodation options, complete with panoramic windows, plush furnishings, and ensuite bathrooms.

On the way back to Launceston, David makes a quick final stop at Brady’s Lookout in Rosevears. Yet more vineyard rows cascade down the hill below us towards the Tamar River, which meanders gently through the emerald green landscape. If this isn’t paradise in the land of Oz, it’s pretty darn close.

The writer travelled as a guest of Prestige Tours Tasmania. You can book this tour here.

Browse our full range of Launceston tours and experiences here.

Cover image: Tourism Tasmania/Rob Burnett

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.



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