Nick Glaetzer is something of a trailblazer. His family has been making wine in the Barossa Valley since the late 1800s, forging their reputation with shiraz, turning out some of South Australia's finest. Nick's dad, Colin, is a celebrated maker of Barossa shiraz. His uncle, John, also makes Barossa shiraz. Nick's brothers, Ben and Sam, make Barossa shiraz.
And yet, Nick Glaetzer gave it all up to make pinot noir in a Hobart ice factory.
That's where I find myself today, in that 1940s warehouse on the northern edge of the Hobart CBD, opposite a couple of car dealerships and an Officeworks outlet. Here, blocks of ice were once made for various industrial purposes; these days, fine wine is produced under Glaetzer's expert eye.
Yes it's actually made here. Grapes are trucked into the city from various parts of the Apple Isle, they're dumped into vats and fermented, transferred to barrels to age, and then eventually bottled right here in an old warehouse in the middle of the city. High-quality riesling, award-winning pinot noir, and even, in a nod to Glaetzer's heritage, a cool-climate shiraz.
This is Tasmania's first "urban winery", established after an inspirational trip Glaetzer took to Santa Barbara in the US, home to an extensive array of winemaking facilities and cellar doors within the city limits. The wines produced here are now highly sought after, and the cellar door experience is a must for anyone in Hobart with an interest in fine food and wine from the source.
That's something of a trend in this city, in case you didn't notice. Though Tasmania is well known for its fresh produce and its gourmet, farm-to-table eating, what's most surprising is that this from-the-source experience isn't limited to the countryside. It's available in the middle of Hobart.
The most obvious example is Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers, both home and office, a place to make wine and raise a family, as Nick and his wife Sally live on the premises, just upstairs from the old ice factory. But there's more in this city for those who want to forage, as it were, for the freshest ingredients and for culinary experiences provided by the very people who have created the product.
Move further into the city, to the very heart of the historic wharf area, and wander into Institut Polaire, a smart gin bar that also functions as an urban cellar door for Domaine Simha. This is a small-batch winery run by Institut Polaire owners Nav Singh and Louise Radman. The pair's lo-fi wines are much sought after, and the opportunity to try their incredibly good riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah, served by the very people who created them, is impossible to turn down.
Just across the road from Institut Polaire, check out Peppina, a high-end Italian eatery where local chef Massimo Mele takes meticulous care to source food as locally as possible. "In Tassie everything is so close, you can reach your hand out and touch the produce, or get connected to where it's coming from," Mele says. "I know where everything we cook with comes from, who grew it, where it's been grown, how it got here, and the name of the person who delivered it."
Visitors to Hobart can learn all of those names, too. Wander up Bathurst Street at the northern end of the city on a Sunday morning and you'll find Farm Gate Market, where stalls selling fresh local produce, from fruit to cheese to meat to even gin, are all staffed by the producers. Got a question about the vast array of world-class ingredients on sale? The person in front of you knows the answer. He or she grew it, or made it.
And Nick Glaetzer, of course, has the answers to your wine-related queries. He or his wife, Sally, will be the ones pouring tastings at their city cellar door, sharing their passion, sharing their product. And you don't have to leave the city.
The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism Tasmania
Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers is open for tastings daily by appointment. See gdfwinemakers.com
Institut Polaire is open Thursday to Sunday, 4pm-11pm. See institutpolaire.com.au