Best Tamar Valley wineries: The ultimate Tamar Valley self drive itinerary
To get the best out of the Tamar Valley you need a plan. Not an elaborate D-Day (Drinking Day) plan undertaken with military precision although some wine lovers would like this idea I’m sure. The reason you need a plan is the Tamar Valley Wine Route has some of the best food and wine not only in Tasmania, but arguably the entire country. To get the most out of it, you need a little inside knowledge and a good Tamar Valley self drive itinerary or a knowledgeable Tamar Valley tour guide.
Where is the Tamar Valley
The wineries of the Tamar Valley are a maximum of two hours away by car from Launceston, with some wineries less than 30 minutes away. With over 32 vineyards and scores of amazing regional eateries, the Tamar Valley is worth taking your time with – just like a fine wine.
The Tamar Valley is divided by the Tamar Estuary with a varying selection of large and small vineyards on the east side and west side. A good selection of wineries is essential, as the smaller less known wineries are without a doubt some of the best.
Plan for two days to get to most of the wineries and dining options or three days for some ultimate indulgence. With so many wineries, you have an abundance of choices to make but be aware that the wineries on the east side of the Tamar are very different to the west and neither should be missed. The reason for the difference comes down to topography, weather and elevation.
Both areas have a similar choice of varietals and styles with the east having a bigger selection of bubbles and the west having a larger assortment of pinots. This might help if you favour a particular style of wine and want to focus on one side over the other but in my opinion, you need a balance so as not to miss some exceptional and often very distinctive wines on both sides of the river.
Tamar Valley winery bookings
You will need to book tastings ahead of your visit as the days of just dropping in for wine tastings in Australia are well and truly over. With often limited space in the wineries and also very limited staffing, most wineries have set strict limits on cellar door visits, patron numbers and times.
Most Tamar Valley wineries also have a tasting fee of around $10 to $20 per person, per tasting depending on the type of tasting experience. So plan your visit and book via the wineries’ website or give them a call. Almost all of the wineries gave me multiple options for times and experiences.
The tasting experience in the Tamar is very personal with most wineries now investing in spending time with visitors to give them a very personal tasting experience that makes it very memorable and enjoyable. We loved our tasting experiences in the Tamar Valley and despite wincing a bit at some of the tasting fees ($20 per person at Apogee for a handful of wines – ouch!), we felt they offered excellent value.
Tamar Valley restaurants other Tamar Valley dining options
Some wineries are a must for lunch or a cheese board and others more for savouring of the high quality of the wine. One great idea is to look at the winery’s website to see the dining options offered, the location of the winery on your potential itinerary and around what time you’ll be there.
One interesting aspect of the eastern side of the Tamar Valley is the lack of cafes and restaurants, but there is a choice of cheese boards and small eats available. As always, it is worth booking. The western side has a much greater choice of dining with loads of small-town cafes and winery restaurants to choose from.
If you’re basing yourself in Launceston, you will also have a great choice of eateries, especially for breakfasts and coffee. There are also four vineyards less than a 30 minute drive from Launceston. When we visited the eastern side of the Tamar Valley, we opted to have a hearty brunch in Launceston and a late afternoon tea when we got back.
Tamar Valley tour or Tamar Valley self-drive
Your first option is to take a Tamar Valley wine tour with a driver, with prebooked tastings and lunch. Or you could choose a Tamar Valley self drive itinerary to get your own choice of wineries, dining and times. Both options have pluses and minuses and come down to cost and who might be the designated driver.
We decided to self-drive and I was glad we did, even despite the fact I was the designated driver. My top suggestion is to study the Tamar Valley wine route map and have a look at possible best locations for morning tea, lunch or a cheese board. Also, use Google maps to get an idea of what times you want for different experiences and to mix up your day so it’s not just wine (not that just wine is a bad thing).
On our visit we asked many of the wineries for suggestions as well went along and came away will multiple options that turned out to be amazing. We were able to tweak our leisurely itinerary to add an extra stop or two after a phone call to check we could drop in.
Tamar Valley self drive itinerary
Here is a Tamar Valley self drive itinerary for 48 hours exploring the Tamar Valley wine route, staying at the Peppers Silo hotel in Launceston. Day one takes place on a Friday as many restaurants and wineries are only open from Thursday to Sunday. Please check each winery’s website for opening times, bookings and current tasting costs.
DAY ONE: Western side of the Tamar Valley itinerary
10:00 AM – Josef Chromy Winery
The Josef Chromy Winery is located just 10 minutes south of Launceston and open for wine tasting 7 days a week. It’s a great spot to kick off your wine tasting adventure before heading north towards the Tamar Valley.
11:00 AM – Tamar Ridge Cellar Door
With views over the Tamar River and showcasing a stunning assortment of pinot noir and chardonnay wines, Tamar Ridge offers a tasting experience to savour. Don’t miss the Expressions of Pinot wine flight if you’re a big pinot fan.
12:00 PM – Timbre at Velo Wines
We came for the wine but were more excited by the food. Timbre at Velo Wines focuses on all things local with changing menus that reflect the season. But I hope the miso caramel and honeycomb dessert never disappears.
1:30 PM – Glendale Estate
Venture down a winding dirt road to Glendale Estate and get a personal wine tasting that is both rewarding and memorable. This old apple packing shed has become the backdrop to many an Instagram photo and is also a place to savour some extraordinary wines.
2:30 PM – Iron Pot Bay Vineyard
Located in a 1907 cottage, Iron Pot Bay Vineyard is as lovely as its wines and a great venue to pull up a seat and enjoy a wonderful wine tasting experience. With multiple white varieties on offer, the hardest bit will be picking a favourite to take home.
3:30 PM – Winter Brook Vineyard
Winter Brook Vineyard offers something a little different and is a breath of fresh air for those bored with pinot (strange people, I know). Don’t miss the lesser known European varieties like Dornfelder.
DAY TWO: Eastern side of the Tamar Valley itinerary
8:00 AM – Mojo On The Avenue Launceston
Rub shoulders with the locals and enjoy a lazy breakfast and great coffee at Mojo on the Avenue in downtown Launceston which delivers with great food, friendly service and a welcoming vibe.
10:00 AM – Marigolds on the Tamar – The Hillwood Coffee Shop
If you would prefer to grab a bite to eat for breakfast in the Tamar Valley, Marigolds on the Tamar is a popular local hangout for coffee and house made treats. Lunch is also available if you feel like something a little more substantial.
11:00 AM – Apogee Tasmania
Apogee Tasmania was constantly recommended by many of the other wineries we visited, and it was easy to see why with award-winning winemaker Andrew Pirie at the helm. This is a place you definitely have to book as it is very intimate. The selection of wines here might be small but they certainly make an impact.
11:30 AM – Brook Eden Vineyard
Venture down the road and up the track to a humble shack that has some very impressive award-winning wines that you will find hard to leave behind. At Brook Eden Vineyard the pinots are impressive but it was a bottle of chardonnay that I ended up bringing home.
12:00 PM – Clover Hill Wines
I have to confess we didn’t get the timing of our visit to Clover Hill Wines right and ended up there for our first stop of the day, straight after brunch in Launceston. In hindsight, we should have booked this stunning winery around lunch time for a cheese board in the stunning architectural surroundings with time to enjoy the view.
1:30 PM – Jansz Tasmania
If sparkling fine wine is your thing then Jansz Tasmania is your place with multiple sparkling varieties of differing ages on offer. For those wanting to dive deeper, there’s also the opportunity to join the winemaker for a masterclass that showcases exclusively selected Jansz Tasmania sparkling wines.
2:30 PM – Sinapius Wines
Another highly recommended winery on this side of the valley is Sinapius Wines. With a selection of wines that venture beyond the usual, Sinapius had us mesmerised by how different and exciting wines can be. The tasting experience was especially good here as well.
3:30 PM – Delamere Vineyards
The Delamere Vineyard is 100% Tassie-owned and operated with loads of passion poured in as well. We happened to venture in as a hen’s party was in full flight. Not missing a beat, the staff had us seated with a glass in hand in moments with smiles and laughter all around. Yet again, the Tamar Valley reinforced its reputation for not only fine wine but also fabulous and friendly service.
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Disclosure: The writers visited the Tamar Valley at their own expense and are already dreaming of a return visit.