I’m no gambler, but I reckon it’s a safe bet that Ross and Judy Brown will be hot-footing it to the movies to see “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.”
Over a lunch of fresh caught rock lobster at Freycinet Marine Farm on Tasmania’s scenic east coast, Brown Brothers’ former CEO tells me “I’d fish in a puddle.” It’s why, just a little sheepishly, he admits the board banned him from visiting Brown Brothers’ recent acquisitions on the island until, he says, “cooler minds had a business model that’d stack up!”
When Coombend vineyards (pictured) hoves into view, you can well understand the board’s decision. While the older section of the vineyard (established in 1985) lies just below Freycinet Wines to the west of the Tasman highway, more recent plantings (2006-2008) on its eastern side extend several kilometres, almost to the shore of Moulting Lagoon, which overlooks Freycinet Bay.
It’s a glorious location and, according to Brand Manager Will Adkins, at 160ha, Coombend vineyard is Tasmania’s largest. That it represents less than half of Brown Brothers’ Tassie holdings says something about the scope of their ambition for their new island outposts, which they acquired in 2010 from Gunns Limited, Australia’s largest forest products company.
Aside from Coombend, Brown Brothers’ new umbrella brand, Tasmanian Estates, encompasses Tamar Ridge, Devil’s Corner, Pirie Tasmania, including Pirie Sparkling, SOUTH by Pirie and Rosevears. As for land, the acquisition included a further 220ha (the 137ha Kayena vineyard in the Lower Tamar Valley and 83ha White Hills Vineyard in the Upper Tamar Valley). All up, Adkins estimates that Tasmanian Estates’ annual production stands at around 80,000 cases – a similar figure, he reckons, to Pipers Brook and Jansz.
So what persuaded the so-called “cool minds” at Brown Brothers that these brands stacked up as a business model? Click here to find out and for tasting notes on latest and upcoming releases, including the all new Pirie 2006 Vintage sparkling, plus an insight into how different Pinot Noir clones are performing at Tasmanian Estate’s Kayena and White Hills vineyards in the Tamar Valley.