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Visit the only cellar door not all that bothered about selling its own wine

Words by Myffy Rigby

How many cellar doors have you visited over the years where the only thing on offer is the wines grown on the property? If the answer is ‘all of them’, it might be time for an excursion to the Tamar Valley. 

Winemaker Joe Holyman and his partner Lou aren’t concerned whether you think their wine is good. They are concerned you’re having a good time at their winery. To that end, they’ve built a cellar door so generously filled with other people’s wine, you’d be hard pressed to call it a cellar door at all. It’s more of a monument to good drinking in one of the most picturesque landscapes in the country.

“There’s nothing else like this,” says Holyman.

Pheasant’s Tears, Mac Forbes, Dr Loosen, JJ Prum, Ochota Barrels, Tony Bornard. Count ‘em, they’re all there, along with pages of big swinging Burgundies, alongside their own wine.  “We’re very open people,” says Holyman. “I’m not one of those winemakers who thinks their wine is the best. I just want people to come and get a cheese plate and sit on the grass out the front with a bottle of wine from Georgia.” 

It’s a fairly unconventional way to run a cellar door, but it’s also a family-run winery with nothing to prove. “I don’t drink the same wine all the time, and I don’t expect other people to either,” says Holyman. The wine offering at the Holyman’s cellar door menu is pretty much a shopping list of good things you want to drink, highlighting regions the Holymans love from Burgundy to Chianti, the Hunter to Rhône and the Adelaide Hills, making it one of the most accomplished cellars in Tassie. There are even a selection of non-alcoholic options for drivers. 

The next part in the equation is moving the snack options from the current offering of cheese/charcuterie/sardines to running chef and sommelier residencies every few months, from different restaurants around Australia. “I grew up only drinking wine with dinner. I believe if you’re going to have nice food, you should also drink nice wine,” says Holyman.

Can’t get to Stoneyrise? Swillhouse have collaborated with the Holymans on a fresh, semi-skin contact-y chardonnay. The label is designed by Sydney artist Allie Webb, inspired by the ultramarine waters around Launceston, and found objects in the kitchen.  

Swillhouse CEO, Anton Forte, bottling the Swillhouse x Stoney Rise Chardonnay.

Stoneyrise Vineyard; 96 Hendersons Lane, Gravelly Beach Tasmania. 

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Writer & Editor

Myffy Rigby


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