Julie Finnerty and husband Rohan Hirst established Cabbage Tree Hill Wines in Beaconsfield from scratch, purchasing the land in 2013. They were living in Darwin at the time, Julie originally from W.A, Rohan from S.A.
The couple moved to Tasmania in December 2015 and got planting, with the vines going in a year later. ‘We had our first berries in April 2019,’ said Julie, ‘but we decided to cut all the fruit off, which is a technique commonly used to help the younger vines, in 2020 we achieved 50% yield.’
The couple opened the cellar door in March 2019. ‘Prior to our first vintage here in 2020 we were purchasing local fruit and having our contract wine makers make the wine for us. We insisted on using local fruit so when we eventually caught up it would be fairly similar,’ said Julie.
‘In those early days we did a small amount of wholesale in Sydney, over 30 odd small boutique bottle shops at one point but we realised it was in our best interests to sell direct. So, all of our sales now are either online or through the cellar door, we do a small amount of wholesale at a couple of the local restaurants but that’s it, we sell direct now.’
‘It’s a distinctly Tamar Valley product.’ Julie added.
The business closed for a while during Covid however Julie and Rohan were fortunate enough to have other income coming in from jobs working remotely interstate and that income is really what carried them through those challenging times. ‘We probably wouldn’t have managed it without having those 2 incomes coming in,’ said Julie.
‘Once we reopened after Covid it was hard to measure how we were going as we had no historical data.’
‘I think when we opened up and Tassie was closed off to the rest of Australia it was a bit of a false economy because there was a lot of Tasmanians travelling around and sales were really good and then when borders opened up again, it was a bit of a stabilising time for us I guess with numbers.’
‘Things are going really well now,’ Julie added ‘we have a lot of interstate visitors and also lots of local people supporting us too which is great. We get a lot of tour groups, consisting of local, interstate, and internationals.’
Despite only operating for a relatively short time so far, Cabbage Tree Hill Wines has won a series of awards.
‘2020 was our first vintage here and at the Tas wine show we picked up Top Gold for our Pinot Rose so that was a nice trophy, then we picked up a trophy as well for our 2020 Sauvignon Blanc!’
‘We are really renown for our Pinot Noir now, it’s been winning a lot of medals! In 2022 we picked up a gold medal at The Royal Hobart wine show for our 2021 Pinot Noir. We also, at the national climate wine show in Bathurst, picked up top gold in its class and picked up Champion Pinot Noir of the show! We’ve been really lucky; the vineyard is in good condition and our wine makers are awesome.’
‘We will be exhibiting at the Tasmanian wine fest next month at the botanical gardens in Hobart.’ Julie added.
Rohan and Julie are both locals who proudly call Tasmania home. A ‘Freo’ girl originally, for those who know W.A! Julie is great to have a chat too, extremely laid back despite her success and a big supporter of helping other local businesses. 3 dogs and a pet sheep also keep her busy!
‘Small businesses in town are very supportive of each other which is a great thing. Beauty Point/Beaconsfield is such an amazing community.’
Here’s to many more great vintages to come for Julie and Rohan over at Cabbage Tree Hill Wines!