Are Velo Wines Getting On Their Bike?
Micheal and Mary Wilson have achieved a lot as wine producers, with their small vineyard in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.
They named it Velo (French for bicycle), in reference to Micheal’s sporting career as a cyclist. He was an Olympic and international road cyclist and lived in France and Italy for a decade, racing in all the major European events.
But when I visited in February there was a large ‘For Sale’ sign at the bottom of the driveway. The property is listed on Domain.com.au for $1.25 million.
The Wilsons bought the established Legana Vineyard, first planted in 1968 by veteran Tassie winemaker Graham Wiltshire*, in 2001. They revitalised and expanded the vineyard to its current four hectares and added a winery, as well as a cellar door sales, restaurant and deck, all of which take advantage of the superb view down to the river. But after 13 years of hard slog, with few holidays and most weekends devoted to either cellar door sales, catering for functions or doing vineyard work, the Wilsons reckoned it was time for a rest.
The latest update, however, is that the ‘For Sale’ sign has been removed and while the Wilsons are still open to offers, life continues as normal.
The restaurant has been operating for 16 months and with good, stable staff and an excellent chef they are less focused on selling up.
The white wines continue to be made by Julian Alcorso’s Winemaking Tasmania, the reds by Micheal. (And, yes, that’s how he spells it.)
Velo has produced some very good wines across a range of styles, including sparkling. Velo’s 2005 Dominique sparkling pinot noir chardonnay ($30) (tasting) won a gold medal at this year’s Tasmanian Wine Show in a class dominated by the House of Arras (tastings). The ’06 of the same wine (tasting) is also very good, if more reserved (it was a trophy winner in the 2013 show).
Velo’s 2011 Pinot Noir ($32) (tasting) scored a gold medal and is an impressive wine, especially from this tricky vintage. The 2010 Velo Willo’s Reserve Chardonnay ($50) (tasting) scored a silver medal. The 2011 Riesling (tasting) (bronze; $28) is also good in a tight, reserved, delicate style. The most surprising wine was the 2007 Willo’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($40) (tasting), which scored a silver medal and is one of the most enjoyable Tassie cabernets I’ve tasted in years.
*Footnote: Graham Wiltshire OAM passed away just a few weeks ago, on March 23, aged 82. A celebration of his life was held at Velo attended by over 100 people who, appropriately, sipped Jansz on the deck. Jansz was originally the sparkling wine of Heemskerk, which was co-founded by Wiltshire in 1975. He was its original winemaker, and after retirement continued to be a valued mentor and sage, to the benefit of many Tasmanian winemakers.