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Thursday 23 July 2015

Meet the Tasmanian winery where you are greeted by a wine duck

Puddleduck Vineyard has two unique selling points; You can't buy the wines anywhere other than at their cellar door; and you may be greeted by a duck on your arrival. 

Puddleduck owners Darren and Jackie Brown this week unveiled a $550,000 makeover of their tasting facility, complete with a playground and a beautiful deck on the dam overlooking the vines.

The boutique producers now offer a range of tasting options and plan weekend music sessions on the deck. 

The couple reflected on the changes to the wine industry in Tasmania since they opened their Coal River Valley facility a decade ago. 

“We never dreamed 10 years ago when we opened our cellar door that we would become so popular," said Jackie Brown. 

"Our renovations have been necessary to cater for the increasing number of visitors to our door each year during this exciting time for tourism in Tasmania.” 

Visitors can still pay $5 for a tasting (refundable on the purchase of a bottle), or opt for a structured sit-down tasting, with a cheese platter if requested), using premium Plumm glasses. 

This year marks Darren Brown's 30th year of working in the Tasmanian wine industry. 

When he started in the industry at Moorilla Estate (better known for MONA these days) he was 17. “There were only eight vineyards in Tasmania and the state crush was 120 tonnes,” he recalls.

The Browns started Puddleduck in 1997 after they purchased a 15 acre property in Richmond. 

They have built their family-run business from humble beginnings to become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Coal River Valley - Puddleduck is currently listed on TripAdvisor as the #2 attraction in the Richmond area.

Puddleduck is a fun name but the wines are serious. The Bubbleduck sparkling wine (2012 is the current release) is outstanding and retails for $52, while the newly-released 2015 Riesling is another standout. 

Both pinot noir and chardonnay have strong followings.

What started as a part-time job for one now employs the equivalent of six full-time staff, plus vineyard dog Polly and Lucky the pet duck, who is happy to be stroked by visitors. 

Puddleduck wines can only be purchased at the cellar door or online, and can only be found on one wine list; at Henry's at the Henry Jones Hotel in Hobart, where Darren's daughter is the maitre d'. 

It is a formula that has enjoyed great success, so much so that several hectares of new vines have planted in the hillside overlooking the cellar door. 

And visitors to Puddleduck are welcome to bring their own food to enjoy on the lawns while the kids enjoy themselves in the new playground - as part of the the winery's "Reverse BYO" policy. 

Puddleduck Vineyard, 992 Richmond Road, Richmond, Tasmania. 
(03) 6260 2301
Open daily 10am-5pm 

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