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Wednesday 9 September 2020

From politics to pinot noir

David Llewellyn traded the rough-and-tumble of Tasmanian state politics for the altogether more genteel world of wine production.

Llewellyn was a Labor Party member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly from 1986 to 2010 and again from 2014 to 2018, when he retired. He had a stint as Deputy Premier.

Nowadays, Llewellyn, 78, and his wife Julie - who manages the business - concentrate on producing fine wines from their Priory Ridge vineyard inland from the Bay of Fires on Tasmania's East Coast.

"We both enjoy drinking wine, so it is a pleasure to be able to produce our own," he says. "And politics is a young person's game."

Priory Ridge is a boutique vineyard on 20 hectares with north-facing slopes which maximise sunlight. The soil is Devonian granite, which is rich in mineral content. 

Formerly known as Tarpot Farm, the property has been in the ownership of Julie Llewellyn’s family (Reid/Clifford) for over 120 years. 

Before its conversion to grapes the property was mainly used to graze sheep as an adjunct to a much larger property, grazing sheep, cattle and some cropping. 

Priory Ridge has the George River as its Northern boundary and the vineyard draws its water from a small dam on the property, although Llewellyn prefers his grapes dry grown if possible. 

The vineyard was first planted in 2008 after an enthusiastic assessment by viticultural expert Richard Smart and Llewellyn does much of the vineyard work himself. 

Priory Ridge produces pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay and riesling with the red wine made by Brian Franklin from Apsley Gorge and the whites at Tasmanian Vintners. The vineyard also produces a small amount of the rare variety siegerrebe, which is sold to Rivulet Wines.
All the grapes are hand-picked and indigenously fermented - and the wines a very fairly priced given their quality. 

Priory Ridge is the only cellar door in the St Helens region, with tastings conducted in an atmospheric 80-year-old shearing shed. There are many objects of local and family history to engage visitors. It is well worth a visit for both the wines and the views. 

The cellar door is currently open weekends and during the week by appointment. Phone (03) 6376 1916. 

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