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Tumbarumba is one of the most remote wine regions in Australia – unless you are a fly fisherman (I am) or a skier (I was once). I have a special affection for this alpine high country, so perfectly captured on screen in the film The Man from Snowy River; the Tumbarumba region vineyards may be a little lower (ranging as they do from 300 to 800 metres) but are unequivocally part of the Snowy Mountains.
The first vines were established by Ian Cowell at Tumbarumba and by Frank Minutello at Tooma in the Maragle Valley, 18 kilometres south-east of Tumbarumba, in 1982 and 1983. The first harvest from Ian Cowell’s vineyard was sold to Rosemount Estate for sparkling wine, and to this day the majority of the pinot noir and chardonnay grown in the region is put to the same (sparkling wine) use. What is more, these two varieties account for 75 per cent of the total plantings, a double testament to the cool climate.
Between 1983 and 1992 the pace of development was slow. As at the end of that period, there were eight vineyards established with 78 hectares in total. By 1997 there were over 25 vineyards with a total of 309 hectares, thanks to a massive planting program in 1994, and continuing plantings thereafter.