Go behind the vines with a new tell-all television series where wine writer Tyson Stelzer pops a cork on Tasmania’s leading winemakers.
It’s certainly not all froth and bubbles when it comes to wine making in Tasmania, as a new TEN series, People of the Vines, shows.
Award winning wine writer and Brisbane local, Tyson Stelzer, takes viewers behind the scenes to give viewers an insight into what really goes on. Tasmania seems like a winemaker’s paradise with its consistently cool climate but deep in the northern Tamar Valley the conditions are challenging and can severely impact on the amount of grapes produces in the smallest wine producing region in Australia.
“We follow the entire process, from the first sparkling wine grapes to the flavoursome reds in what is make or break for the year’s income,” says Stelzer. “If it’s a good day, we show that, and if it’s a bad day, well, you get that too.”
Tom Wallace, head winemaker at Tamar Ridge, one of the six vineyards to feature in the show, says people will get a very real insight into a frequent problem on the island state.
“We had a very cool and wet December, which reduced our yields greatly, subsequently our wines are extremely high quality, and have retained great acidity, but the up and down nature of the climate makes it very difficult to get consistent yields, and can be very stressful,” says Wallace.
Josef Chromy’s chief winemaker Jeremy Dineen agrees, saying you only get one chance a year to get it right and climate plays a key role.
Dineen says the hours during vintage mean he often doesn’t see his two young daughters, or his wife for that matter, for weeks on end but he concedes it’s worth the effort.
“We get very passionate and so involved in what we’re doing there’s not much room outside of that for much else, but that’s the way we like it.”
I asked Tyson Stelzer how he became involved in the series and why he was so passionate about wine.
Where did your passion for wine come from?
It was the remarkable places and the diverse people who first drew me to wine. The incredible stories of the way in which Australian rural lives, at the mercy of the elements, can become names of international repute, going down in folk law as world class winemakers. Fifteen years later, I am more inspired than ever by these stories, and it is this that has motivated the creation of the People of the Vines series.
How did you get a break into television?
In February 2011 I was approached by two young film producers with a vision to take wine to television. In the three years and eight months since we have together built a team and gathered the support of partners and Network Ten to make People of the Vines a reality.
What surprised you most about Tasmania’s wine makers?
As a wine writer on a hectic schedule, my typical interactions with winemakers have a duration between minutes and at most a few hours. To have the privilege of being immersed in their lives for weeks on end had a profound impact on me. The way in which they opened up their home and family life and warmly invited me and my crew into all the joys and heartbreaks of vintage in a cold and marginal place was an incredible experience. I think our viewers will be surprised at just how much hard work and how many long hours go into the creation of a bottle of wine.
Did you have a favourite wine out of those you sampled?
Jansz Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2008.
Was there a disaster or funny moment when filming?
I arrived at Josef Chromy at 4am one morning in the middle of vintage, to discover $12,000 worth of coolant leaking on to the floor, shutting down operations in the winery. Within an hour, the harvester had blown a hydraulic hose and harvest was put on hold for half a day. The overnight shipment of coolant from the mainland arrived five days later.
Are there more winemaking shows in planning?
People of the Vines will be an ongoing series. We are currently engaging in conversations with a large and famous mainland region regarding filming series 2 in 2015. We are also in discussion with an overseas region for series 3 next year.
People of the Vines will show on TEN at 1pm on Saturdays from November 1.