New lease on life for old farm sheds

A VINEYARD in North-West Tasmania has managed to turn a collection of old farm sheds into a highly popular cellar door and cafe. The Eastford Creek Vineyard was established in 2018 by Rob and Sue Nichols.

Despite not being in a traditional winegrowing region, Mr Nichols said the area had the potential to produce excellent wine due to its climate and rich volcanic soils.

The aim of establishing a vineyard was to diversity their farming enterprise and make better use of what was a tricky area of land to manage in their usual cropping program. While not ideal for cropping, Mr Nichols said the stoney and undulating ground had proven to be a good location for growing wine grapes.

They started with Chardonnay vines for sparkling and Pinot Noir. Now there are 8ha of vines and they have a number of different varieties including Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and an unusual red variety called Gamay. Mr Nichols they have been surprised at the style of wine the Gamay grapes have produced.

“It’s normally quite a light style of red but it has surprised us how our Gamay is more full bodied,” Mr Nichols said. As well as having the right type of land, the area the family chose to establish the vineyard also included a number of old sheds.

One of them, the granary, has now been transformed into a cellar door and café. To preserve the unique character of the building, the granary shed was lifted off its original foundations with a crane. Once a new concrete slab had been built, it was then put back in place and renovated to become a cellar door. That side of the business is run by Mr Nichol’s daughter Rachel Turner and her husband Nick. Originally the family thought the venue may attract a modest numbers of visitors.

“Before we opened, we thought if we got 30 or 40 people a day that would be really good,” Mrs Turner said. “Now we’re getting 130 to 140 people through some days, so it has really taken off.”

The business has also recently been expanded to become a venue for weddings and other functions. A large shed next to the cellar door, which was once used to store pumpkins, has been transformed into a function facility which can easily accommodate 80-120 guests.

Nearby, next to a large dam, a special area has also been set aside for wedding ceremonies. Mr Nichols said the secluded spot has proved very popular with couples who want some privacy during the ceremony on their big day. Demand for the venue is strong and Mrs Turner said they have 28 weddings now booked in over the coming months.

As well as the old farm sheds, the family have also collected farm machinery and other equipment which have been repurposed and now feature in the facilities and surrounding landscaping. One of them includes a water feature made out of old shovels. Wine is made on site in a nearby shed by resident winemaker Andrew Gaman.

Mr Nichols said they are also offering contract wine making for other smaller vineyards in the district who do not have their own facilities. As well as providing a venue for people to enjoy, Mr Nichols said the cellar door is also a great way to help showcase their wines to people who may not have experienced them previously