Loving between the vines
Josef Chromy Winery, Launceston
Words: Damien Woolnough
Photography: Giuseppe Santamaria and Discover Tasmania
11th October 2018
A good marriage should age like fine wine, so it makes sense to start the journey as husbands among the vines.
Tasmania is a relatively recent addition to the familiar roll call of wine regions in Australia, having garnered international prizes in record time with many of the trophies awarded to Josef Chromy on the outskirts of Launceston.
With its 1880s homestead and more recent architecturally award-winning addition, the 61-hectare vineyard looks like the movie set for a Sandra Bullock (or Matt Bomer) romantic comedy but there’s drama behind the scenes.
Aged 19 Josef Chromy fled his Czech village following years of Nazi and Soviet occupation, making his way to Australia in 1950 where he established a flourishing meat business. From veal to vines, Chromy went on to establish Rochecombe (now Bay of Fires), Jansz, Heemskerk and Tamar Ridge before launching his eponymous winery in 2007, when he was a spritely 76.
Chromy’s passion and experience can be seen in every award-winning sparkling bubble and corner of the property, which effortlessly blends history with an unpretentious nod to the contemporary.
“The team at Josef Chromy have been fantastic with the planning. They seem nearly as excited about our wedding as we are.”
The property’s potential for weddings obviously didn’t escape Chromy’s shrewd eye with a Lakeside Pavilion erected for ceremonies, with rows of vines as a backdrop. Side note: For eagle-eyed stylists keen for the perfect photograph the vines are usually verdant and green from October to April, majestic red and gold from April to June, and minimalist (bare branches) from June to September.
The view can also be enjoyed behind the floor-to-ceiling windows of the restaurant which can house 150 guests on round tables plus the Grooms’ Table or 180 on long tables. For those with wanting to maximise their wedding registry options the restaurant can accommodate 300 people for a cocktail affair but once you see executive chef Nick Raitt’s menu you’re going to need a seat.
Raitt has cooked for the royal families of Oman and Britain so he knows a thing or three about picky queens and his choices are flawless.
In the name of research my boyfriend and I sampled pork jowl with caramelised cauliflower and watermelon radish, slow-cooked beef cheeks with Brussels sprouts and mushroom and olive tapenade, along with dark chocolate mousse. Perhaps advise the tailor for your wedding suit to include adjustable straps.
Naturally, there’s an award-winning cellar to select your drinking packages from with an accessible option offering the wineries diffusion brand Pepik.
Since becoming the last Australian state to decriminalise homosexuality in 1997, Tasmania has developed a reputation for inclusion and support of LGBTQ rights.
"Clearly, Tasmania has become a far more tolerant and inclusive and happier society, I think, over the last couple of decades because of the way that Tasmanians have gone from rejecting LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people to embracing us and I think that's an important story for not just the nation, but the world, to hear," respected campaigner Rodney Croome told SBS.
Dr Lindsay Zhou and Timothy Dart
Josef Chromy will host a gay wedding next year with Timothy Dart and Dr Lindsay Zhou exchanging rings at the foot of the vines.
"It has a great setting with a vantage down their valley," says Dart. "The team at Josef Chromy have been fantastic with the planning. They seem nearly as excited about our wedding as we are."