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Situated around Hobart, the Derwent Valley stretches north west from the capital, following the river. It is similar in climate and topography to the Coal River Valley, which lies just over the hills of the Meehan Ranges to the east. On the western side of the river lie the Mount Wellington and Mount Faulkner hills, with the distinctive Mount Direction silhouetting the eastern horizon and the towering Mount Field to the west. It is a scenic and picturesque area, with its proximity to Hobart making it a very popular wine region to explore and discover.
Along with the rest of Tasmania, the Derwent Valley enjoys a moderately cool climate with strong maritime influence - in this case from the cool Tasman Sea. The mountains to the west protect the valley somewhat from the prevailing westerly weather systems which lash the western half of the island, making the Derwent Valley a calm, sunny region with cooler nights from the Tasman Sea breezes.
Many of the vineyards planted throughout the Derwent Valley region are located on the north-facing slopes that rise up from the river on the western side, providing plentiful sunshine exposure. Site selection for the Derwent is quite closely linked with grape varieties: reds are usually planted on the higher slopes where they receive plenty of sunlight and benefit from the region's diurnal temperature variation. White varieties, however, tend to be planted near the river, where the natural flow of the Derwent helps to temper the heat of the afternoon during ripening and mitigates the danger of spring frosts.
Like the Coal River Valley, the soils of the Derwent Valley are mostly alluvial sands deposited by the river over millions of years. But away from the water, further into the foothills of the surrounding ranges, the soils become thinner and less fertile, and composed of degraded sandstone and schist.
Like many regions in Tasmania, the Derwent Valley produces exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Both of these varieties grow well in the cooler climate, and are produced as single variety wines, as well as blended for sparkling.
Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are also grown with great success throughout the Derwent Valley, with the influence of the river helping to cool the vines and retain freshness and acidity.
Pockets of Shiraz are also found in the Derwent Valley, as well as some alternative varieties such as Gamay and Gewurztraminer. All of these varieties are used to make elegant, cool climate wines with complexity and finesse.