Possibly the best part of our trip to Tasmania was the Long Lunch Tour we did in Freycinet. After mainly eating simple meals cooked on our gas cooker or at camp sites, we were ready for a bit of a splurge and indulgence.
With heavy rain the day before we were worried that the tour would be cancelled, but our guide, Brad very kindly assured us that the tour would go ahead even if it was just the two of us. “You have to do the twos to get the tens” he said cheerfully as he picked us up from our Coles Bay camp site, and escorted us on a private tour along the Freycinet Coast. He turned out to be a font of knowledge about wine, wine-making, local food and produce, local history and even our own Perth and Margaret River!
Our first stop was Freycinet Marine Farm, where we were treated to a glass of local reisling, scallops in herb butter, steamed mussels and the best oysters I have ever had. A few years ago I would not have even considered trying the oysters, but after reading Hemmingway’s A Moveable Feast I challenged myself to try them whilst in France and have enjoyed them ever since.
As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.
So although I don’t have a huge breadth of knowledge about oysters, I do know that I can be very finicky with seafood and things that ‘taste like the ocean’, and these freshly shucked natural oysters appealed to even my tastes. I’ve heard these are oysters which will convert oyster-haters, and at $15 for a dozen there were definitely a lot of oyster fans stopping by.
Next we drove to Gala Estate, a family-run winery with their cellar door housed in a historic little weatherboard cottage. We learned that rieslings don’t have to be sickly sweet – the ones we tasted here and actually throughout the region Pokies were crisp and refreshing, perfect with the local seafood and cheeses. We also helped ourselves from a bowl of local walnuts, and chatted with Grainne and Brad about other wineries in the region.
At Spring Vale winery we tasted wines matched with samples of Tasmanian cheeses and cured salmon (with a wineglass in one hand a food sample in the other, I was in heaven but unable to take many photos). We bought a bottle of their fantastic gewürztraminer, which is actually still sitting in our wine rack waiting for a special occasion.
Our next stop was Milton Vineyard‘s cellar door, with beautiful views over a lake and vineyards. Here we tasted the wines then chose one to drink with our lunch: a spread of local cheeses, cured meats, bread and salad. Some surprising favourites were the ‘bush dust’, a dukkah-like grind of pepper berries, bush tomatoes and other good things; local wasabi, which is a million times nicer than the bright green ‘wasabi’ you get with sushi here (which is usually horse radish and green food colouring); and a wasabi cheese, which sounds bizarre but is actually pretty amazing. We lunched with Brad and chatted about how he came to be in Tasmania, running the tour company with his wife, and what else we should see whilst in Freycinet.
Our last stop was to Kate’s Berry Farm for dessert – the most ridiculously huge ice cream I’ve had in ages. It was chilly and drizzly, but nothing will stop me from eating ice cream!
I’ve been on wine tours before, with larger groups, which feel rushed and impersonal – one tasting after another, without getting a chance to talk to anyone about the wine or really pay much attention to actually tasting. This tour was everything that a foodie and wino could possibly want – real conversations with people who know the area and the industry, coupled with fantastic food, wine and scenery. I realise I must sound like I’m gushing, but I really can’t recommend this tour enough.
I have no affiliations with The Long Lunch Tour Co and was not in any way compensated for this post, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to people! We did the Freycinet Food & Wine tour ($130), but they also run Hobart wine tours and an epic-sounding helicopter tour.