Considered remote even by mainland Australians, Tasmania’s isolation is part of its appeal. For rich doomsday preppers, “Tassie” has become the latest hillside bunker Plan B. For adventurous gourmands, however, this heart-shaped island offers serious enticement to compensate for the long flight. Capital city Hobart’s flourishing dining scene, urban wineries, countryside cellars doors and whisky distilleries are worth all the hassle alone. But the island’s relaxed pace has also drawn-in travelers who seek an undiscovered slice of heaven, with bountiful natural resources and plenty of world-class wine. —Lauren Mowery
Blessed with Australia’s coolest climate, sparkling wine persists as the island’s calling card. High-quality fizz made in the traditional method first established Tasmania’s wine reputation. Purity and freshness, however, define most Tassie pours, and dry still wines like electric Riesling, taut Chardonnay, graceful Pinot Noir and peppery Shiraz prove just as exciting as the bubbles. A range of microclimates and styles brings diversity within the cool-climate framework. For example, the Tamar Valley receives the highest amount of rainfall, while Coal Valley enjoys warm, dry weather. Huon Valley excels at the production of riveting, textured wines.
Where to Taste
Most wineries offer cellar-door tastings, though some require appointments. In a warehouse outside Hobart, Nick Glaetzer-Dixon splits from his famous Barossa-based brother with elegant Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Museum of Old and New Art’s (MONA) wine bar pours Moorilla Estate and Domaine A Cabernet. Along the picturesque Derwent River, biodynamic-certified Stefano Lubiana Wines teases terroir from three vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs. Taste nervy Riesling and elegant Chardonnay in an old stone house at Pooley Wines. Derwent Estate Wine’s skin-contact Pinot Gris consistently sells out. Along the dramatic east coast, Freycinet Vineyard offers a high-end visitor experience, as does Josef Chromy Wines, which also boasts an outstanding restaurant. Look for exquisite Chardonnays from Sailor Seeks Horse and Tolpuddle Vineyard. Neither have cellar doors, though Hobart’s waterfront bar The Den Salamanca stocks a selection of wines from each. For traditional-method sparklers that put Tasmania on the global map, visit Jansz Tasmania in Pipers Brook or seek the Blanc de Blancs at Clover Hill Wines, near Pipers River up north.
Where to Dine
Wine industry pros in Hobart favor bistro-bottle shop Ettie’s and tiny, back-alley Templo. Franklin is categorically Aussie, with local ingredients like wallaby. Don’t miss handmade pastas and smart Burgundy selections at Fico. Twenty miles north is The Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School & Eatery, a hands-on, farm-based culinary school. Catch the ferry to the MONA for two options: to plunder the Tassie-deep list at The Source Restaurant, or step into an art installation between small plates at Faro.
Where to Stay
Hobart has a high density of top hotels, from the former jam factory that’s now the Henry Jones Art Hotel to the striking blond-wood hulk of MACq 01 Hotel right on the wharf. In a quiet suburb, boutique Islington Hotel blends art and antiques with superb dining that’s only available to stay-over guests. The Mona Pavilions, each named for an architect or artist, deserve at least two nights to soak up river views and explore the provocative museum. On the peninsula, about two hours from the capital, the spectacular Saffire Freycinet encapsulates isolated wilderness luxury.
When to Go
Tasmania’s notoriously chilly and fickle weather means the summer months between November and February are best.
Visit Bruny Island, a veritable mini-Tasmania. An economic option includes a group outing with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. You’ll ferry over to Adventure Bay for a boat ride across strong swells in search of wildlife. Be warned: the sea is rough. Otherwise, pick the luxe Bruny Island Traveller food tour to experience a whole spectrum of food and beverage bliss, including slurping oysters beachside with wine.
If it’s Saturday, go grazing. Trail Hobartians to the Salamanca Market street fair to sample goods from artisan vendors. Try sourdough breads, smoked salmon and craft spirits outside Hobart’s historic sandstone buildings.