Every September, Great Eastern Wine Week makes a sunny splash on Tasmania’s east coast – a big-hearted celebration of fine wine and local food, with much music and laughter.
This decadent 10-day festival occupies cellar doors and vineyard lawns along the East Coast Wine Trail, from St Helens in the north to Orford in the south. There’s a lot happening: wine tastings, fine dining, live music, walks, workshops…all with a focus on the people, places and stories behind the east-coast wine scene.
From little things, big things grow
Great Eastern Wine Week started small in 2015, when passionate east-coast wine doyens Claudio Radenti and Tim Goddard hosted an intimate wine-matched dinner for 12 at Freycinet Lodge. It was a late night…and a raging success.
Inspired, local winemakers and producers saw the opportunity to showcase their excellent wine, food and wilderness experiences. Great Eastern Wine Weekend was born. Then in 2021, riding a wave of wine-fuelled enthusiasm, Great Eastern Wine Weekend became Great Eastern Wine Week.
Today, the festival hosts 40-plus events in around 20 different locations, attracting almost 3000 wine fans to the east coast.
It’s not a competition
Great Eastern Wine Week isn’t about awards and accolades: it’s a cheery celebration of east-coast wine, food, culture and landscapes.
Every year is different, but visitors can look forward to a launch party and black-tie event, degustation dinners, long lunches, beach feasts, cellar-door sessions, pop-up tastings, live music, seafood-and-wine pairing masterclasses, high teas, sip-and-paint workshops, twilight tapas…even yoga classes, all cast against a backdrop of classic east-coast scenery.
And it’s not just east-coast wine on show: local beer, gin and whisky also get their moment in the spring sunshine, with the likes of Ironhouse Brewery and Distillery, Bicheno Beer Co (based at the Farm Shed East Coast Wine Centre), Spring Bay Distillery and Splendid Gin (based at Spring Vale Vineyard) plying their craft.
Every event involves food – either included in the ticket price, at an on-site eatery, or perhaps via a food truck dishing out plates of full-flavoured east-coast seafood, meats and produce.
Where it’s at
There’s no particular festival hub or town; rather, the key venues are wineries up and down the coast, including (but not limited to):
- Boomer Creek Vineyard and Cellar Door
- Craigie Knowe Vineyard and Cellar Door
- Darlington Vineyard
- Devil’s Corner Cellar Door
- Freycinet Vineyard
- Maclean Bay Wines
- Mayfield Estate
- Milton Vineyard
- Priory Ridge Vineyard and Cellar Door
- Spring Vale Vineyard; and
- The Bend Vineyard
…plus local restaurants, cafes, taverns, bars, accommodation operators and seafood venues.
Wine and heritage
The east coast’s intoxicating blend of low rainfall, warm days, crisp nights, mineral-rich soil and fresh ocean air helps the local winemakers create some sublime drops – especially cool-climate riesling, pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and sparkling white that will make your senses hum. Notes of blackberry, briar and violet; young, dry and citrusy undertones… Nose your way into a few and see what takes your fancy.
The oldest vineyard here is Craigie Knowe, just north of Swansea. The first vines curled out of the soil here in 1979, planted by Hobart dentist John Austwick, who saw the east coast’s wine-growing potential. Austwick passed away in 2023, leaving the east-coast wine industry as his legacy – a collaborative community of growers, sharing know-how and resources under the east-coast sun.
Let’s get practical
It’ll only take a moment. Promise.
Tickets and bookings
The Great Eastern Wine Week is released in early/mid-June, well ahead of time. There are usually a few event tickets still available just before wine time – but to avoid disappointment, book your tickets and accommodation pronto.
Local taxis operate from St Helens, the east coast’s largest town, bordering the larapuna / Bay of Fires area. But for most people, the easiest option is to self-drive. Pick a designated driver, and compensate them for their kindness with just-shucked oysters, a crayfish roll…maybe a shoulder massage or serenade in the vines.
Alternatively, organisers run shuttle buses to/from the main events, with pick-up/drop-off points in Swansea, Coles Bay, Bicheno and beyond. Check the Great Eastern Wine Week website for details, and book in advance.
What to pack
Great Eastern Wine Week essentials include:
- hat and sunscreen (it’s spring, but the Tasmanian sun always has a bite)
- outdoor chairs for music events
- empty car boot for bottle purchases
- jacket (September can be chilly…and it might rain)
- good friends; and
- sturdy shoes (…you can’t come to Great Eastern Wine Week and not walk to Wineglass Bay).
Great Eastern Wine Week FAQs
What does Great Eastern Wine Week include?
Great Eastern Wine Week includes 40-plus events. How many you experience is up to you: maybe one or two over a lazy afternoon, four or five over a long weekend, or a dozen over a busy 10-day stretch. Some events are free; most are ticketed. Organise your own transport and accommodation (there are some shuttle-bus services). But however you spin the bottle, you’ll be guaranteed of some fine food and east-coast wine, entertainment and good times.
Where are the vineyards and wineries on Tasmania’s east coast?
The vineyards along Tasmania’s east coast stretch from Dunalley south-east of Hobart, to St Helens in the north east. Most of this scenic coast is covered by the Great Eastern Drive – 176km of laidback fishing towns, white-sand beaches, national parks and vine-striped hillsides.
What is the East Coast Wine Trail?
The East Coast Wine Trail is a wine-themed touring route, linking together 14 like-minded wineries and cellar doors between Orford and St Helens along Tasmania’s east coast. Great Eastern Wine Week is the Wine Trail’s flagship event – a great chance to sample some top east-coast drops.