TOCA (Tas) convoys to Meadowbank Vineyard - 17 January 2021

7th May 2021
By Dick Friend
The first major event in Tasmania.

With just 15 members of TOCA (Tas) we began with 12 Teslas dockside near Salamanca Place, Hobart, including Kevin & Leonie Brewster who joined us from Launceston. Tasmanians are a relaxed bunch but had all arrived promptly, but for two who telegraphed they had early commitments but wished to join us at Meadowbank.

You may spot a couple of interloping cars, but enthusiast Clive Attwater (National Vice-President of AEVA) was invited to join us in his long-range LEAF, en-route to Derwent Bridge to check the sixth charge station of his company Electric Highway Tasmania. His “I Want Energy” business partner Rob Manson was with us in the company Tesla S.

The Convoy proceeded around the waterfront and past the Botanic Gardens, following the Derwent River upstream...

Pic from the open sunroof of the lead vehicle

Pausing at New Norfolk to meet one another (most for the first time) we chatted briefly and organised for Clive and guests Cameron & Shelley to go ahead to strategic locations and capture the passing convoy.

Facing the Derwent on the New Norfolk riverbank

After crossing the Derwent we proceeded up the Lyell Hwy through vast cherry orchards toward Rosegarland, and descended the hill to the turn-off to Bushy Park, the centre of Tasmanian hop-growing. The verdant hop fields on the river flats quickly give way to grazing lands in the surrounding hills, and along the final 7km of dirt road into the Meadowbank property.

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Water makes a difference and solar-powered pumps provide water from the Derwent far below to the vineyards far above, such as the hill-top in the background

And so we parked at the winery where we were joined by two more Tesla owners Helen & Jason Smith, and Michael Boon and family, to be welcomed by Alex Deane and the Ellis family with a Harvest Sparkling Wine, made from their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes which also are grown for Arras Sparkling - and composed `80% of the 2004 vintage which recently won the Decanter World Wine Award for Best Sparkling Wine of Show.

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One X, two Ss, and a multitude of 3.

Walking through vines planted from the early 1970s, we were served Riesling from the adjoining vines, and learnt the development of the vineyard from a solitary acre of Riesling and Shiraz, to over 50 hectares, now predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot, but also Cabernet, Pinot Meunier, Gamay, and Sauvignon Blanc. And on to the long table…

Lamb and chicken from the BBQ was accompanied by salads as well glasses of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Gerald Ellis also served a glass of his recent favourite Gamay. Wife Sue worked the kitchen with their daughter Mardi (who lends her name to their sparkling wine “Mardi”) who, with husband Alex were expecting their third child in the next week - a sibling for 5 yo Cecilia (“CC”) who deftly waited on tables.


Innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and resilience was evident around the table, not just from the Ellis family who hosted us, but matched by attendees such as Dave Warren - who pioneered computer-aided circuit-board design in Hobart in the ‘70s, building it through multiple iterations to become Altium. When not building electric planes (which he’s flown in Hobart) and improving his electric Chris Craft-style speedboat which graces the Derwent River, Dave does some consulting on battery technology for Space X. Also present was Robert Clifford who, when the Derwent Bridge was pulled down by an ore carrier in 1975, turned from fishing to designing catamarans to fast ferry cars and commuters from dormitory suburbs to central Hobart. His latest 100m Cat “Buccoo Reef” was leaving for Trinidad & Tobago in the week after our event.

Before dessert, Piet van der Woude demonstrated the falcon wing door dance of his Model X, the first public demonstration seen by almost all attending. Berries are a seasonal delight in January, and a tart rounded out the generous lunch. Wines were purchased by the bottle and case for home consumption and people dragged themselves away from interesting conversations without possibly having had the chance to meet everyone. But there was keenness for further events and Dick received suggestions for further winery trips to the East Coast (Craigie Knowe perhaps), or the Huon Valley (Willie Smith maybe), or the Central Highlands (Lark Distillery by chance), or to a track day or race meet at Baskerville Raceway.

Thanks to all who contributed to the success of the day & assured the future growth of TOCA (Tas) chapter from the 15 members before the event. Thanks Meadowbank Vineyard and convoyers:

Dave Connell
Rob & Deborah Manson
Rosalind & Cas Pitt
Phillip Stoneman
Kate Johnstone & Damian Hope
Kevin & Leonie Brewster
Piet & Jo van der Woude
Robert & Kerry Clifford
Michelle & Dave Warren
Helen & Jason Smith
Nigel Williams
Michael & Amanda Boon 
Clive Attwater
Dick & Julie Friend

ps - don’t forget the 2+ min video:

Website: Video of the Event

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