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Monday 1 July 2024

Family-owned Delamere is a Tasmanian wine success story

Fran Austin comes from Kalgoorlie via Perth. Shane Holloways's family owns a vineyard in the Adelaide Hills.

Together, the husband and wife winemaking team has turned once-tiny Delamere Vineyards into one of the most respected names in the Tasmanian wine industry.

Austin made her name as winemaker at Bay of Fires; Holloway made wines at Dalrymple. And when Delamere, planted in 1982, came on the market in 2007, they gambled all on buying the Pipers River property.

Almost two decades on they have hugely expanded vineyards, a large winemaking facility, including a new tirage facility, their own bottling line, and they contract make wines for several small labels. That's a win.

The couple - who combine technical ability with good instincts - sescribe themselves as "Tasmanian grower producers handcrafting traditional method sparkling wines and table wines". 

Cool guys. Obsessive about quality.

Austin has a degree in winemaking from Adelaide University and did vintages in Burgundy and the south of France, worked with the hugely influential Brian Croser, and has a CV that involves roles at Domaine Chandon, Petaluma and Houghton before landing in Tasmania, where she worked at Heemskerk and Rochecombe before landing at Bay of Fires, where she quickly developed a formidable reputation.
Holloway, a former marine biologist, took up a vintage cellar hand position to help pay the rent whilst undertaking post-graduate research. He completed an Adelaide University post-graduate degree in winemaking and embarked on vintages in the Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley and Oregon before Tasmania called him back and he made wine at Dalrymple. 

Wine won over marine creatures. 

Last week, the couple hosted a dinner at Launceston's Black Cow Bistro to launch the new 2023 vintages of their estate pinot noir and chardonnay. A similar tasting is scheduled for Hobart later this month.  

The line-up, which showcased wines as far back as their first vintage in 2008, featuring stunning brackets of museum wines, along with a sneak peek at the 2023 Delamere Estate Chardonnay and 2023 Estate Pinot Noir, both of which are released today with an RRP of $70.

Delamere is unusual in that all its estate wines are made from just two grape varieties, the range includes not only sparkling and table wines but also a new-release NV Ratafia. 

Both new estate wines will likely sell out within weeks.

While the dinner was about the releases and showing how the wines age, diners began their night with a stunning 2012 Late Disgorged Blanc de Blancs ($150) and a 2013 Vintage Rosé ($80). 

They were then regaled with entertaining stories about the couple's Delamere journey on a 100% estate grown, made and bottled story. 

"Chardonnay is why I fell in love with Delamere - and it remains my desert island wine," said Shane, revealing how he made the stunningly youthful 2008 on his own, with Fran still working at Bay of Fires at the time.

"The combination of soil and site make our vineyards perfect for cool-climate chardonnay and pinot noir," he says. 

Fran says each wine they make "unlocks the inherent beauty of our site, as we encapsulate the story of each season in our wine". 

The rich ironstone soils at Pipers River are farmed 100% by hand, and the wines are very much a reflection of each vintage: 100% family-owned and -run. 

And the back vintages that we tried at dinner underlined just how well the estate chardonnay and pinot noir will cellar.  

100% Family owned and run, 100% grown, made and bottled at our Pipers River Estate

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