Upon arriving at Emilia Wines, it may feel like you’ve taken a wrong turn to Italy. A stonewall and Italianate wrought-iron gates greet you, opening onto a driveway that winds through grape vines and up to a beautiful Cellar Door.
This stunning, Spreyton-based winery is owned and operated by Gail and Marcus Burns. Tasmanian born and bred, the pair moved from Marcus’ family orchard in Spreyton to Italy in the 1980s, when Marcus was awarded a two-year contract with the Italian cycling team. Over the next 24 months, they fell in love with their Italian life in the Emilia-Romagna region, discovering an affinity with the food, wine and family traditions associated with the Italian lifestyle.
When they returned, they resumed a life on the orchard farm, but the vines kept calling their name. In 2009 they planted their first pinot noir on the land, slowly expanding to include chardonnay, pinot gris, sauvignon and nebbiolo. The year 2013 marked their first commercial vintage, and Gail and Marcus are yet to look back.
In this venture they are joined by seasoned winemakers, Fran Austin and Shane Holloway. Given that Gail and Marcus had no prior winemaking knowledge, they were looking for innovative and well respected winemakers who would allow their grapes to shine. As owners of nearby Delamere Vineyards, Fran and Shane were perfectly placed to work with Emilia’s vines.
Together, the talented group endeavours to produce low-yield wines that reflect the unique characteristics of their microclimate. When it comes time to harvest, grapes are hand-pruned and hand-picked, before being crafted into drops that combine the best of Italy and Tasmania.
You can try the full range at the Cellar Door, designed to reflect the winery’s Italian influences. Housed inside an extension of Marcus and Gail’s own home, the Cellar Door overlooks hectares of vines and 100-year-old apple and pear trees. The beautiful building features a terracotta-tiled roof, classic archways held up by huge sandstone pillars and some very impressive and heavily detailed wooden doors. The interior makes the most of the intimate space, with an enormous hardwood dining table in the centre, creating a lovely communal place for tastings.
If you only taste one wine, make it Emilia’s Chardonnay, which pairs perfectly with dishes like wild mushroom risotto and roast chicken. Matured in French oak, it is clean, crisp and complex, with a fresh acidity that balances out the creamy vanilla, stone fruit and oak flavours. Emilia Wines holds strong to the values of both Italy and Tasmania. Gail and Marcus endeavour to keep things as boutique as possible, producing beautiful, terroir-driven wines that celebrate the very best of their little patch of paradise.