When I (Stuart) first thought about owning a vineyard in 1976 I looked at three areas in Australia
- in Queensland around Cunningham’s Gap,
- Margaret River in WA and
Having a lot of experience in meteorology as a military pilot I did some research, mapping the climate in each area from 1939 to 1976. Interestingly, before the outbreak of WWII, details of weather in Australia were largely confined to major population centres or simply basic readings of regional temperature. Having done this and having enough graph paper to wallpaper a large room, I considered Tasmania as worth some further research.
This led to a trip to Tasmania in 1976 and the discovery of what was then La Provence Vineyards. Following an attempt to create a small vineyard on a property at Nabowla, about 20 Kms north of Lalla, a beer with a colleague, Gavin Scott, a once part owner of La Provence, led me to further look at that property. In 1979 I made an offer to the then sole owner and in January 1980 took possession of a very run-down vineyard needing a lot of love, with a view of making the best Tasmanian Pinot Noir..
In 1985, following a move to Tasmania with the RAAF as Senior Air Force Officer, we bought the neighbouring property, originally an old apple orchard then carrying stock and in September that year, became full-time residents.
Progressively, vines were planted on the property acquired in 1985 and also the old Miguet vineyard was extended. Further plantings in what was the Semillon block will be carried out in the near future. Notwithstanding the additions, Providence remains a very small vineyard with production at around 600 Doz pa.
Concentration is on producing the best Tasmanian Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and that is exemplified in the show successes recorded. Most significantly, Providence holds the honour of winning the Australian Gourmet Pages National Pinot Challenge – both sections (wine against wine and wine with food) twice. This achievement has yet to be matched and we are forbidden from re-entering that wine!
From 1980 to 1985 grapes from our vineyard were sold to Graham Wiltshire of Heemskerk fame and the recognised father of Pinot Noir in Tasmania. From 1986 to 1993 Heemskerk made wines under contract for La Provence/Providence Vineyards. The relationship with Graham Wiltshire was intrinsic in us focussing on excellence in viticulture and the aim to produce one of the best Pint Noir wine in Tasmania. When Graham died in March 2014 the industry lost a true pioneer and I lost my mentor.
In 1993, following a change in management at Heemskerk, Andrew Hood was contracted to make wine for Providence Vineyards and that arrangement was in place until 2007 when Guy Wagner of Bass Fine Wines took over that role. Current winemaker is Josef Chromy whose general manager winemaking was making our wine under Andrew Hood over a decade ago.
In the community
Providence Vineyards is a strong supporter of Life Education, empowering our children to make reasoned decisions about the influence of alcohol and other drugs on their lifestyle.
Stuart has also been a member of Launceston Legacy since 1986.