Gala Estate Vineyard sits at the crossroads of history and innovation, presenting truly Tasmanian wines that are infused with a sense of place and time. Now run by the seventh generation of the same family, it is a multifaceted business that produces not only award-winning wines, but also operates as a fully functioning sheep farm.
The Gala Estate story begins back in the early 1800s when Adam and John Amos, two Scottish brothers, returned from war. In their search for a better life, they spent a short time in Wales, where they met the very wealthy George Meredith. During this time, George shared his knowledge of a far away land called Van Diemen’s Land (modern-day Tasmania) with the brothers, suggesting that this would be perfect place to start anew.
Together, the Amos brothers and the Meredith family sailed on the Emerald, landing in beautiful Van Diemen’s Land in the early 19th century. Upon arriving, the governor allowed them to choose a spot of land along the East Coast on which to build their lives. They called it Gala, after the area in Scotland from which they originated – Galashiels –and started farming sheep and cattle, progressing to include wheat and flour milling. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that Gala Estate Vineyard became just that – a vineyard.
Seventh generation owners and operators, Adam and Grainne Greenhill were the first to plant vines on the property in 2009, recognising the sustainable benefits of plants that live longer than two years. Nestled between five private forest reserves and four wild rivers, the well-nurtured vines now produce chardonnay, riesling, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, and are joined by 50 hectares of walnuts.
Adam looks after the vines as farm and vineyard manager, and is helped by his dad Bob and cousin Mike. Grainne looks after the Cellar Door, ensuring that there’s a Greenhill touch in every element of the Gala Estate offering.
Adam and Grainne believe the cool-climate advantages of Tasmania are a strength for the region moving forward. Their vineyard is planted a short 500 metres from the 42-degree southern parallel – the optimal latitude for climatic balance for cool wine production, with warm days and cool nights. This enables the fruit to ripen on the vine and achieve their full flavours with tight acidity.
This can be best seen in the 2013 Constable Amos Pinot Noir, Gala Estate’s most notable wine. Produced from the finest vintages, the palate is smooth and full of ripe, dark fruit flavours. Its outstanding quality has seen it take out a number of awards, including best three-year-old pinot noir, best pinot noir and best red wine in show at the 2016 Tasmanian Wine Show. It was also awarded a huge 97 points from James Halliday.
This pinot noir is just one of the drops available in Gala Estate’s Black List Wine Club, which is maintained by Grainne. Members are sent offers twice a year, allowing for a change in the season and your drinking preferences. With an emphasis on boutique production and controlled distribution, the club presents the ideal opportunity for wine lovers to try drops not found elsewhere.
However, to fully understand Gala Estate’s boutique and personable approach, you must visit the quirky Cellar Door, which opened in 2011. Aimed to make you feel as comfortable as the Greenhill family does, the venue has a rustic vibe with velvet lounges, cosy throws and cushions, all housed in a shabby chic building. Walking into the building evokes an instant feeling of discovery, which is built on as you work through Gala Estate’s tastings. When you’ve found your favourite drop, feel free to construct your own picnic with Gala Estate wines, local cheeses and produce to enjoy on the property.
If it’s more of a sea view that you’re after, you can also take your delicious picnic to the nearby coastline, devouring local goodies with your feet in the sand. Swansea is just a 15-minute drive, while the aptly named Friendly Beaches is just half an hour down the road.
If maintaining a winery and cellar door weren’t enough, Adam and Grainne also continue to run more than 10,000 sheep for fine wool and meat production.
With a strong affiliation to the land, they are constantly looking to implement more sustainable methods, with the aim of handing the property onto the next generation in as good or better condition than they received it. As a result, they are in the process of transforming the 250 hectares of irrigated annual cropping to an irrigated perennial pasture system to fatten prime lambs.
With sustainable practices in place for both the vineyard and farm, Gala Estate Vineyard is ensuring future generations can continue to live on and love the land.