Swinging Gate Vineyard: A Tamar Valley getaway

The cellar door at Swinging Gate Vineyard
Swinging Gate Vineyard was closed off from the world for 22 years. It was being used to grow grapes and the only time people visited was to prune and pick the vines. That was until the Cox Family decided to purchase the vineyard and get the gate swinging again.

Doug Cox purchased the vineyard with his wife, Corrie in 2014. Doug had worked in horticulture and propagation for most of his life and decided to combine those skills with his love for food and wine.

He noticed that the vines on the property were mature and saw a great opportunity to start making Pinot Noir, his favourite wine. Over time, Doug and Corrie resurrected the vines on the property, started making wine, and opened a cellar door.

Starting from scratch

Doug was aware that he had to build his credibility in winemaking. He had counted 30 exceptional cellar doors in the Tamar Valley wine route and visitors were spoilt for choice. He knew that if he made great Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Rosé like everyone else, he would get lost in the mix.

So, Doug and Corrie decided to make unique wines. Today, they have about seven or eight varieties and produce 25 different styles of wine.

You can find a distinct style of white wine at Swinging Gate Vineyard. The fruit is picked at the peak of its ripeness to allow fresh, fruit flavours to shine through. However, all of the sugar is converted into alcohol so the fresh, fruity flavours are delivered up front with a dry, clean finish. Soft, ripe fruit flavours also shine through in their red wines with older, less tannic oaks used for aging.

The benefits of an open mind

Pouring a bottle of Swinging Gate wine into glasses

Doug tries to make wine simple in the same way that Jamie Oliver made food accessible to him when he read his first book.

Doug realised that Swinging Gate was the only vineyard with Muscat in Tasmania and decided to make a dry style. He had tasted a lot of dry Muscat from the Alsace region and used the style as his first point of difference.

Neighbours also started pitching in their ideas when they saw progress happening at Swinging Gate Vineyard. One of Doug’s Italian neighbours tasted his Pinot Gris and was quick to advise him that it was far too clean. As per his recommendations, Doug started leaving the wine on its skin and producing skin-contact wines just before they took off in Australia.

Next, some winemakers from Austria dropped in for a tasting and asked Doug why he wasn’t making Pét Nat. Those were added to the range too.
When the rain kept falling and Doug’s Cabernet couldn’t ripen, his neighbour stopped him from making balsamic vinegar and suggested Amarone instead. This wine style involves air drying the fruit to intensify the sugars and fruit flavours. Now, Swinging Gate Vineyard is the only winery in Tasmania producing it.

While the classics are still made, Doug has taken the kind input on board and created a worldly and delightful collection of wine. The breadth of the range means Swinging Gate’s five-course-degustation meals with paired wines can get very creative.

Doug and Corrie also concentrate on creating healthy soil, adding natural ingredients such as bacteria, fungi, carbon, and organic fertilisers to help it come alive. When the microbes are fed and the soil is healthy, the fruit turns out to be delicious.

Pinot grapes

Making wine accessible

Doug tries to make wine simple in the same way that Jamie Oliver made food accessible to him when he read his first book. That means leaving out complicated terminology when speaking with his guests and helping them to relax. He has seen people get intimidated by the wine world and loves helping them to explore. Swinging Gate’s four-legged resident, Nellie is also good at helping guests to feel welcome at the cellar door.

There are now many ways for people to enjoy the rustic, boho-chic property. The monthly degustation dinner features the best local produce of the season paired with different styles of wine. When it’s warm outside, a long table is set up in the vines so that guests can look up at Tasmania’s starry skies.

Swinging Gate Vineyard also has a bus which has been converted into a charming event space for extra guests in winter. Guests can also sleep amongst the vines in luxurious domes, each with their own private bathtub on the deck and panoramic windows that let the morning sunshine flow in.

A bright future

Cool-climate wines are growing in popularity, but are becoming harder to grow due to changes in the climate. Doug is happy to have found a beautiful place in the world with just the right conditions for growing delicate Pinot Noir. He is also happy to share everything he has learnt about wine so far with his guests.

Experience wine from Swinging Gate Vineyard

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