What a busy year we've had since opening. Busy and very rewarding. Thanks to the hard work and attention to detail that went into the planning and construction of these facilities during 2015, we were able to hit the ground running when we opened our doors last Christmas Eve. Equally important, the refinements made in 2016 – including April's launch of the Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit Garden and Birthday Centre – have not only enhanced our visitor offerings but given us industry kudos as well.
With the number and quality of Australian wines increasing each year, finding a place among the country's best is becoming harder and harder. Here's what we've achieved so far in 2016:
It's been almost 30 years since Torquay's renowned Fawlty Towers closed its doors to guests in the UK. The good news is that 2017 will see Basil, Sybil, Manuel reunite at a venue that is a good deal closer to home for Tasmanian fans. Yes, Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is coming to Riversdale Estate in May next year, with six theatre restaurant performances scheduled from Thursday 4 May to Sunday 7 May inclusive. For $99 per ticket, guests can enjoy a three-course meal and a very entertaining 2-hour show. Beverages are purchased separately.
Initially conceived and performed in Brisbane in 1997, Faulty Towers The Dining Experience has since become a comedy theatre phenomenon. It is based on the popular 1970s BBC sit-com Fawlty Towers, written and performed by John Cleese and Connie Booth. While the former husband-and-wife team and the irrepressible Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs play no part in The Dining Experience, the show has been acclaimed by audiences and critics for almost two decades.
With the sparkling bases and aromatic whites of 2016 now in bottle, there are already signs that this year's busy vintage successfully combined quality with quantity, a rare feat in Tasmania's cool maritime climate. The State's 230 individual vineyards harvested a record crop of 15,343 tonnes in 2016, according to industry body Wine Tasmania. A large proportion of it – around 35% – was committed to sparkling wine production.
That neatly mirrors our decision to produce more fab fizz in 2016. In addition to perennial favourites Crux Vintage and Crux NV, we now have Blanc-de-Blancs and Rosé wines resting quietly in the cellars of our contract winemakers. These looked particularly impressive before secondary fermentation, but only time in bottle will reveal their ultimate quality.
While mere mention of the Mediterranean coastline of France's Cote d'Azur never fails to conjure up images of sun, sea and glamorous beach resorts, it is the dazzling array of small perfumeries in the hilltop town of Grasse further inland from the French Riviera that are regarded as the olfactory paradise of Europe. Here, few fragrances are more admired than those of the House of Fragonard.
This year may well have marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of renowned author Beatrix Potter, but great writing never loses its charm. Recent news from the UK reveals that the Peter Rabbit creator is once again among that country's best sellers. Her new release, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2016, thrusting it into a cover-to-cover tussle with JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and four other titles.
The British bookseller's nomination for the award is all the more remarkable because The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots was only published for the first time in 2016, more than a century after it was written. Potter sent the manuscript to publishers Frederick Warne in 1914 but its illustrations were never completed. That task ultimately fell into the hands of acclaimed British children's author and illustrator Quentin Blake when the manuscript was re-discovered in 2014.
Vineyards are truly remarkable places, and our 38ha site has produced more than a dozen trophy winning wines in the past five years. Over three consecutive Sunday mornings in December, resident wine advisor Mark Smith will take you on a journey of discovery through the vineyard before settling down to a table-top tasting of six wines, including international benchmarks. Starting time is 10:00am.