THE cellar doors of one small vineyard are set to open later this year and invites wine lovers and explorers to the farm.
Owners Premaydena Hills in the Tasman Peninsula, Ella and Daniel Kelleher are renovating what used to be their 1910 cosy two-bedroom farm house to a cellar door where they have been stockpiling bottles since their first harvest in 2021.
Premium wines like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are all to be released in December this year, but only on the farm.
Mr Kelleher had 15 years of working in management roles around Australia and overseas while Mrs Kelleher was Hobart born and bred with a career as a medical researcher.
The pair have fallen into a farmer’s way of life in an unconventional way and the vineyard seems to be just the start of a long and rewarding journey ahead.
Their vineyard is a small-scale operation with 6500 vines planted over two years between 2018 to 2020.
Initially the property was a retirement dream for Mr Kelleher and with previous visits to the Tasman Peninsula he knew that it was a prime spot for fishing and surfing paired with the immaculate views. But that plan was scrapped quite quickly when he figured out the opportunity before him.
They planted their vines on a north-facing slope that is sheltered from winds and have great soil.
Mr Kelleher said the weather where they are situated is kind to the vines which makes for the great fruit.
“I just had a look around and realised it was an awesome opportunity with the land because it is clearly suited for viticulture,” Mr Kelleher said.
“We have a beautiful maritime climate here in summer so the summers aren’t as extreme as other parts in Tasmania and the winters are a little bit warmer.”
The pair’s journey has no doubt been a series of challenges but they could not be happier with the rewards the workload has brought.
“It’s a huge investment both financially and in terms of our time to get to this point,” Mrs Kelleher said.
“There’s been a lot of literal blood, sweat and tears that’s gone into the process.
“Occasionally when we’ve got big picking days and we need to get vineyard nets out or just big days, we bring a crew in, but 12 months of the year it’s just us.”
Previously the farm was solely a cow and calf operation with their herd of Black Angus cattle. Instead of going through the traditional sale yards at Powranna, the Kellehers have made the transition to a direct beef business in 2019 selling professionally butchered sides of Premaydena Hill beef to homes and businesses across the region.
Mrs Kelleher said that their beef business has been greatly supported by local restaurants in their regions.
“When they have people coming in from interstate or overseas they can tell them where the beef their eating comes from and it’s nice to know it’s from that place over the hill,” Mrs Kelleher said.
Their beef business has been stable since starting but their expansion focus right now is on the vineyard.
“We planted the vineyard and now we’ve made the wine processing facility with the cellar door planned to be operational by December,” Mr Kelleher said.
“Basically it’s about getting that cellar door open and then we can think about what we’re going to expand and work on next.”
“We are now up to our third year of making wine and stock piling it away.”
“We want to have cheese platters and charcuterie boards to go with the wine.”
“We want people to come to the farm and see the view we see everyday and experience the wine and food that way. We’re not interested in selling to shops.”
Tasmania is filled with a whole bunch of small producers and the Kelleher’s want to encompass a level of tourism that will provide people with produce that is straight from the farm to the table.
“Small time producers take time, care and effort. It’s generally owned by mum and dad operations who have invested a lot of their money, time and have passion for what they do.” Mr Kelleher said.
“We could go and get our wine made from a big commercial wine maker in town but we thought, no, let’s vertically integrate this business.
“We own the vines so let’s build it here.
“We found a wine maker, we built the facility where our wine can be made on the farm and on site.
“If we can get products such as oysters from friends’ farms, and cheese from across the bay, it integrates their business with ours, they’re telling our story and we’re telling their story.”
They are teamed up with contract winemaker and founder of Hurly Burly Wines, Di Aldous, who specialises in small-batch winemaking.
The partnership between Ms Aldous and the Kellehers makes for a great arrangement where the sharing of knowledge about wine making comes together and they are able to facilitate the space the farm offers.
“The grapes are coming from their own vineyard and there’s no travel at all so the quality of the grapes won’t deteriorate because they will be processed on site,” Ms Aldous said.
“It is also so exciting that their wine is going to be sold from their new cellar door.”
Mrs Kelleher said that there’s a growing trend in people wanting to know about the history of their food, how their wine is made and where the grapes are grown.
“People want more transparency in what they’re eating and drinking now and I think the best way you do that is to get as local as possible,” Mrs Kelleher said.
“If we want to know how somebody’s cheese is made, we just go around and have a cuppa with them and they’ll show us how it’s made, their milking practices and cheese factory.
“Whereas if I am buying from a supplier overseas, I can ask questions but you can’t get that first hand information.”
Mr Kelleher said that they wanted to take the risk and be independent, not just with their wine but with the beef business too.
“It’s the experience people want when they come to Tasmania. They want to meet the small producer, they want to engage with them and understand what’s going on.
“I had a customer call me up the other day after we delivered them some beef telling me they have never eaten a steak with a butter knife before.
“When you’ve got people calling you up and giving you this feedback, why wouldn’t you keep doing it?
“All of a sudden our businesses is a price-setting business and not price-taking business.”
Agriculture differs from other industries and what the Kellehers wanted was price certainty for their products so in 2018 they changed their business model and worked towards an independent beef business.
“Most agricultural producers are price takers and we wanted to expand, we’ve got a family, we’re building a house,” Mr Kelleher said.
The hard work behind their new venture has seen them bring their vision to fruition.
“The farm has been so fulfilling in terms of challenges and it definitely hasn’t been just sitting around and raising the kids and baking scones,” Mrs Kelleher said.
“There’s a lot more in terms of planning what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it and learning how to grow vines and make wine.”