Stargazer Vineyard wins 2019 Gravitas Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year Award

Tea Tree vineyard recognised for excellence in viticultural management

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Limestone Coast Wine Show Judge 2018 Samantha Connew

Limestone Coast Wine Show Judge 2018 Samantha Connew [©Limestone Coast Wine Show]

The Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania


Stargazer Vineyard at Tea Tree in the Coal River Valley has won the 2019 Gravitas Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year. This program is an initiative of the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania to promote excellence in Tasmanian viticultural management.

Judges Paul Smart, Matthew Pooley, Frank Walker and Jen Doyle undertook vineyard inspections as part of their judging process. Everything from soil management and pruning to canopy management and spray programs were assessed.

Stargazer’s winemaker, Samantha Connew, is also the vineyard’s owner. An accomplished industry identity, Samantha was named International Red Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge, London, in 2007.

“This win is just so exciting,” says Samantha. “My background is in winemaking, and it’s been a huge learning curve since acquiring this vineyard in 2016. What the Award tells me is that I’m on the right path when it comes to management of a vineyard to ensure quality grapes for the wines I’m producing.”

Samantha has already added two further hectares to her original one hectare of vines under cultivation. “It’s been a very busy few years and it’s wonderful to have expert judges validating my approach to vineyard management.”

As part of the Award of Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year, Stargazer will host a field day on May 31. It’s an opportunity for wine professionals and lovers of wine alike to learn about the techniques employed at winning vineyards. Anyone interested can register at the RAST office on 0362 726 812. This year’s presentations and luncheon will take place at the Tea Tree Community Hall, followed by a short drive to inspect the vineyard.


Background notes

Stargazer produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. It currently consists of three hectares with another two to be added next year.

The ground is Jurassic Dolerite which is high in calcium and vital to the production of high quality grapes. Calcium is important for a number of reasons, including improved berry quality, improved firmness and storage potential, and a reduction in the disorder known as stalk necrosis.

Stargazer wines are exported to the UK, Hong Kong, the US and Singapore.

The judging panel comprised Paul Smart from Wine Tasmania, Matthew Pooley representing the wine industry, Frank Walker representing the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania, and Jen Doyle being last year’s winner.

Vineyard of the Year is sponsored by Gravitas Energy in conjunction with Bennetts Petroleum, Geotas, and Wine Tasmania.


Samantha Connew

Samantha comes to the Tasmanian wine industry with an impressive background. She obtained a postgraduate diploma of oenology and viticulture from Lincoln University, Canterbury, NZ, and ultimately moved to Australia.

Among other accolades she was made the youngest and first female judge appointed Chair of Judges at the Sydney Royal Wine Show in 2014. After working as chief winemaker at Wirra, and then in the Hunter Valley, Sam looked to Tasmania to make the first wines for her own business, Stargazer.

The name commemorates Abel Tasman, who sighted Tasmania before proceeding to the South Island of NZ, navigating by the stars.


Judges notes

Following a vineyard inspection and review of vineyard records, the judges gave a tick to Stargazer’s performance in pruning and trellising. Soil management, irrigation management, vine health and disease control; vine balance, canopy management, spray control and yield management also rated well.

Vine wounds were painted which the judges described as excellent. Also described as excellent was leaf health. Vine health was described as “great”; and there were no noticed pest or disease issues.

The judging panel summed up: “Having inherited a challenging site, it is being well managed and expanded”.



  • Coal River Valley (TAS)

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May 07th, 2019
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