Tasmania's Southern Open Vineyards

By Anna Webster

8 Dec, 2022

On the first weekend of March 2023, wineries in Tasmania’s southern wine regions will throw open their doors for Southern Open Vineyards. All a short drive from Hobart, here’s a selection of participating wineries to visit either during the event or to bookmark for your own self-guided adventure. 

It’s a cold but clear and sunny morning in Hobart when we pull up outside an old ice factory on the outskirts of the city. Inside is Hobart’s first (and only) urban winery and cellar door, home to Nick Glaetzer of Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers, and the first stop on our self-guided tour of Tasmania’s southern wine regions. Our trip becomes a preview of the state’s Southern Open Vineyards weekend, due to take place March 3–5, 2023.

Over 30 wineries across the Coal and Derwent Valleys (surrounding Hobart) and the Huon Valley and D’Entrecasteaux Channel (south of Hobart) participate in the three-day event, throwing open their doors to visitors far and wide. As well as special tastings, wineries will also host vineyard picnics, dinners, live music events and more.

Southern Open Vineyards has been running annually since the mid ’90s, with local winemaker Greer Carland taking over management of the event in 2020. As well as making wine at her parents’ winery, Laurel Bank, Greer runs her own label, Quiet Mutiny, inspired by Australia’s first female pirate.

“This event is about encouraging people to get out into wine country, see the vineyards, meet the people behind their favourite wines and discover some new favourite wines,” Greer says. “Many of these guys have limited mainland representation and many don’t have cellar doors, so there’s something really honest and beautiful to connect with here during that weekend.”

Here’s a small selection of participating wineries to visit during Southern Open Vineyards weekend next year, or whenever you next feel like exploring Tasmania’s southern wine trail at your own leisurely pace.

Jonny HughesMewstone's Jonny Hughes with Solomon.

Huon Valley & the D’Entrecasteaux Channel

Sailor Seeks Horse

Using the tray of his ute as a makeshift table, Paul Lipscombe knocks the crown seals off a few half bottles he’s brought out to show us. We’re standing among the gnarled winter vines at his Huon Valley vineyard, which he and his wife, Gilli, bought in a dilapidated state in 2010 and nursed back to health. Now, Paul and Gilli make bright, elegant and ethereal chardonnay and pinot noir (consistently rated in the mid-to-high 90s) from it, under their Sailor Seeks Horse label. They don’t have a cellar door – the setup is, in their words, “tres rustique” – but they’ll let you pop by for a vineyard tasting if you send them a message via Instagram prior. They’ll also be offering similar back-of-the-ute tastings of their super-limited '21s during the Southern Open Vineyards weekend.

Mewstone Wines

In Flowerpot, about 40 minutes’ south of Hobart and on the other end of the spectrum setup-wise, is the staggeringly beautiful Mewstone Wines. Owned and operated by brothers Jonny and Matt Hughes (and dog, Solomon), the Mewstone vineyard is planted to pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling and syrah. The wines are lovely but what draws visitors back is the stunning cellar door, all concrete and timber with floor-to-ceiling windows offering incredible views over the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island. As well as the full suite of Mewstone wines, the brothers’ négociant label, Hughes & Hughes, is on tasting. The latter incorporates experimental techniques Jonny has picked up from vintages worked in New Zealand, Italy and Canada, and includes their range of lo-fi, living wines. 

Lyn and Michael RochfordLyn and Michael Rochford of Viridian Wines.

Derwent Valley 

Viridian Wines

Lyn and Michael Rochford have 6000 vines on their tiny two-hectare property in Granton, about 20 kilometres north of Hobart, and, with the help of Alain Rousseau at Frogmore Creek Wines, produce limited quantities of premium single-vineyard riesling, pinot noir and chardonnay. For the Rochfords, winemaking has always been a hobby first and a commercial imperative second (Lyn’s a lawyer and Michael runs an IT business), which has given them the luxury of doing things the way they want to do them – they age their blanc de blancs on lees for a minimum 10 years, for example, and make chardonnay only when they don’t make sparkling. Tastings are by appointment only, and you’re unlikely to find their wines in bottle shops – particularly on the mainland. Their extremely limited quantities are quickly snapped up by local restaurants such as The Agrarian Kitchen (who discovered their wines at a previous Southern Open Vineyards event), or those in the know who buy direct.

Domaine Simha

Born in Delhi, India, Nav Singh moved to Australia after he finished high school and fell into wine while working in hospitality. After a degree in winemaking from Adelaide University and vintages in France, he moved to Tasmania to make wine with his wife, Louise Radman.

What sets Domaine Simha (the Sanskrit word for lion) apart is Nav’s winemaking approach. As his goal is to get the wine from vine to bottle in as few moves as possible, his wines are left on lees until the last moment and then racked once before bottling. He uses 100 per cent whole bunches and all wines are fermented naturally in amphora or large-format barrels. He also follows the lunar calendar for harvesting, picking on either fruit or flower days. Nav and Louise own Institut Polaire, a wine and cocktail bar in Hobart’s CBD, which also acts as their cellar door. During Southern Open Vineyards, they plan to offer matched local food and Domaine Simha wine experiences at the bar. Otherwise, tastings are usually on daily from 4–6pm.

Nav SinghNav Singh at Domaine Simha.

Derwent Estate

Winemaker John Schuts loves to show off his patch of dirt. Unlike other vineyards in Tasmania, which are largely planted on depleted Jurassic dolerite, Derwent Estate’s soils are calcareous thanks to the 200-million-year-old fossilised seabed which lies underneath. “If you look at the key regions around the world – Champagne, Burgundy, Margaret River, Coonawarra – they’re all planted on calcium-rich soil,” says John. Derwent Estate specialises in pinot noir and chardonnay (even selling some of the latter to Penfolds for its Yattarna) but also grows pinot gris, riesling and sauvignon blanc. Inspired by the caves of Burgundy, John built the Estate’s winery out of straw bales and lime render (“an above-ground cave”), but its major draw is the cellar door, housed in an 1820s-era limestone cottage overlooking the Derwent River, and the newly opened The Shed restaurant. During Southern Open Vineyards, John will show guests his soil over a wine at the Estate’s fossil quarry, but there’s plenty of reasons to visit outside this event, too.

Coal River Valley

Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers

Originally from the Barossa, where he cut his teeth in the family’s eponymous Glaetzer Wines, sixth-generation vigneron Nick Glaetzer settled Tasmania in 2006 after stints in Margaret River, the Hunter Valley, the Riverland, and Germany and France. In 2008, Nick set up Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers, initially sharing winemaking facilities with Frogmore Creek before establishing Hobart’s first urban winery. While it was his love of pinot noir that drew him to Australia’s coldest state, it was shiraz that earned him a coveted Jimmy Watson (and made him the first Tasmanian winemaker to win one) after he won the prestigious award for his 2010 Mon Père Shiraz in 2011. As well as powerful pinots and elegant shiraz, Nick makes a range of interesting rieslings. Historically he’s sourced grapes from growers in the Coal and Derwent Valleys, but from 2023 will be making wine from his own 12ha vineyard at Tea Tree.

Derwent EstateThe historic Derwent Estate.

Drew Wines

As well as growing grapes on his Tea Tree property, Rob Drew farms deer. In fact, he’s almost as well known for his venison burgers as he is his pinot noir and chardonnay. He doesn’t 
make them as often these days, but his winery is still worth a visit. Most of his wine is sold locally through pubs and restaurants, and while you might be lucky to find it in bottleshops on the mainland, direct is still the best place to buy. His tasting room, which moved from his house to the winery during covid, will be open for drop-ins and wine sales over Southern Open Vineyards weekend.

Pressing Matters

Despite his many and varied achievements – a major general in the Australian Army Reserve, a top-level barrister, and chief commissioner of the Tasmanian Integrity Commission, among others – Greg Melick would nominate wine as the major focus of his life. In 2002, he and wife Michelle, with the help of Rob Drew, established a vineyard in the Coal River Valley, and, inspired by his favourite wine regions (the Mosel and Burgundy), planted it to riesling and pinot noir. In 2006, they appointed a full-time vigneron and were able to make wine commercially under their Pressing Matters label. Today, their wines are made by Samantha Connew (of Stargazer), and Mosel-style rieslings and pinot noir are still the focus.

Nick GlaetzerNick Glaetzer of Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers.

Where to stay

Lumière Lodge 

This restored 1890s Victorian home in leafy West Hobart is the perfect base for your Tasmanian adventure. Every detail in the eclectic three-bedroom house has been considered, from the claw-foot bath and rain shower to the fridge stocked with fresh juice, milk, local cheeses and ready-to-bake croissants.

The Polaire Suite

As well as running a winery and a wine bar, Nav Singh and Louise Radman run accomodation opposite Salamanca Place. The one-bedroom Polaire Suite features a generous king bedroom with separate open plan living and dining, lofty ceilings, statement furniture and a fully equiped chef's kitchen. Book through the Mantra One Hotel.

The Bowmont 

On the banks of the Huon River in Franklin, the Bowmont is a two-storey heritage building painstakingly refurbished by well-known local stylist, photographer and writer Michelle Crawford. As well as a working kitchen studio and photography studio, the top floor has been converted into a two-bedroom self-contained apartment that can be rented out.

Southern Open Vineyards will run from March 3–5, 2023. The full program will be released in mid-December 2022. Visit for more information.

This article appears in issue #67 of Halliday magazineBecome a member to receive the print publication as well as digital access.