Tasmania - Huon Valley


“There was a handwritten sign on the wall at the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet, our local coffee and cake respite from the Tasmanian weather. It said, “Sailor Seeks Horse” and went on to explain that the author had sailed solo around the world and ridden across the US from coast to coast and back again. On a mule. He’d then decided he wanted to travel around Tasmania by horse but didn’t have one. So, was there anyone who would lend him one? If they didn’t have a horse then a pony would do.

It was an idea that resonated with us. Here we were, trying to do something a little bit crazy, without much money and requiring a little bit of help to get to where we wanted to be. We loved the use of language and the rhythm of the wording and for some reason it stuck with us. When it came time to naming our vineyard, Sailor Seeks Horse just felt right. For us, it’s about not being pigeon-holed in life, it’s about doing something you really want to do and seizing the moment and just doing it.

So what happened to Bernie Harberts, the sailor who sought a horse? Well, no-one lent him a horse in the end and he ended up buying a $10 bike from the local tip-shop and off he went around Tasmania. That’s the other thing. He didn’t just give up, he got creative and down here in the Huon, where there aren’t too many other vignerons around to help, sometimes you’ve got to get creative.”  - Gilli and Paule Lipscombe

Gilli and Paule's story began in 2005 when they resigned from their (unspecified) jobs in London, did a vintage in Languedoc, and then headed to Margaret River to study oenology and viticulture. While combining study and work, their goal was to learn as much as possible about Pinot noir and Chardonnay. They gained experience working in large, small, biodynamic, conventional, minimum and maximum intervention vineyards and wineries including Woodlands, Xanadu, Beaux Freres, Chehalem and Mt. Difficulty.  Four years later, after experiences in the Margaret River, France, Oregon and New Zealand, they decided it was now or never to dive into their own project...

In 2010 they traveled to Huon Valley, Australia’s Southernmost municipality and coolest wine region. Aside from two of the most awarded vineyards in Tasmania (Elsewhere and Home Hill), the industry had barely scratched the surface of the myriad of microclimates within the valley. They stumbled upon a dilapidated 6.5ha vineyard planted in 2005. Opportunity beckoned. It had a NE-facing slope, sheltered from the prevailing cold, and planted to six different clones of Pinot; perfect right? Not quite. Half the vines were dead, blackberries crowded around and about one hundred trees littered the vineyard. Not-so-perfect, but it was right on the edge of viticultural possibility. They found a diamond-in-the-rough (literally!) with tons of potential for beautiful expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Their risk paid off - their first release of the 2013 Sailor Seeks Horse Pinot was an instant success. 

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