Prickly Mo puts its best foot forward

EUGENANA just south of Devonport is synonymous with the now water-filled quarry that pierces the farm-filled land – scape, but there are some small producers carving their own agritourism attractions into the countryside. Prickly Mo vineyard is one such attraction.

The cellar door is operated by Tim Lynch, who took over his families existing vineyard and began the process of developing the site and value-adding what they were producing.

“The farm has been in my family for almost 130 years with sheep and orchards, but these vines we grow from today were planted 26 years ago,” Mr Lynch said, “I came back to Tasmania from a retail-based career and started to look at what we could do with the vineyard.

“From this tiny vineyard we figured just growing the crops and selling to someone else to add to their wine would barely cover costs. “The only way to possibly make a living from the vineyard was to grow the grapes, have it made by a winemaker and put it into bottles with our own label on it to sell it directly to the customer from the site.”

And that is what they did. From the 3500 vines that stretch across the hills, a typical season yields between six and 10 tonnes of chardonnay and pinot grapes, picked by a smattering of friends, family, backpackers and locals.

“When we first started picking, we hosted a barbecue as a bit of an enticement. We’d have 20 or 30 friends and family over to pick all day,” Mr Lynch said.

“We started with such a successful morn – ing that we rewarded ourselves with a beer or a wine along with the lunch. “The problem was I couldn’t get the bug – gers back out in to the vine after that. “These days we’re trying to utilise back – packers or locals when they’re available, though they are obviously harder to find over the last few years.” The sites cellar door is the hub of the operation and is itself a site to behold.

“There was an old shearing shed my father had built on to the side of my great grandfather’s old barn in 1971 which was full of junk. “We thought if we cleared that out, we could host the cellar door from there and see where we could go from there.”

In the years that have passed the shed has seen significant renovations, reinforcing and expanding the cellar door which now fea – tures a bar, fireplace and plenty of seating to compliment the expansive outdoor areas which often host live music on Fridays.

“In this part of the world, agritourism is a bit of a buzzword and that is exactly what we have that right here.” “On one side of the fence is the agriculture and the other side has the tourism and they complement one another.

And the cider’s Next Door …

PROVIDING an alternative to the red and white wines at Prickly Mo is neighbour David Rundle and his brewed ‘Next Door Cider’ from one of Australia’s first organic apple orchards.

When Mr Rundle took over the orchard from his father almost 35 years ago it was in the middle of a tree-pulling scheme.

Despite the incentives to lift the orchard, they kept the trees in the ground and endeavoured in the apple markets.

“When a few markets had collapsed there was an opening for us, but we had the wrong varieties in the ground,” Mr Rundle said. “It was either change varieties or go organic, so that’s what we did, and we’ve kept it going for 30-plus years.”

The orchard once covered over 10ha of the Eugenana property, where trials like builders’ lime and periwinkle as a natural mulch have been conducted over the years.

Today the orchard covers around 5ha where apples and plums are picked to order for markets across Australia. Any secondary fruits or anything unpicked is what he uses in his Next Door Cider.

“It’s a matter of value-adding what usually would go to waste. “Whatever isn’t used goes in a can.

“We’re moving in to preserves too. It’s all about getting absolutely everything from the harvest.

“Our next ideas are around on-farm accommodation and really making the most of what we have here.