About Native Point Wines

Native Point Wines is owned and managed by Sheena and Tim High.

Proverb: “If you decide to do something, do it as well as you possibly can”.

Our wine story began on  a cold winter’s evening when we started making plans to establish a vineyard in Tasmania.  While the idea was not particularly unique we were living in Denmark on the other side of the world at that time.

Born in the UK we had the opportunity to re-locate to Melbourne in 1987 through Tim’s involvement in the dairy industry, where we rapidly developed a taste and passion for Australian wine styles.  International assignments have been a feature of Tim’s career, so the idea of embarking on a 15 year plan with wine production in mind brought together this passion with the opportunity to establish roots in one place, while utilizing Sheena’s skills in biology and horticulture along with Tim’s business experience.

After several years exploring the established wine growing regions of Australia in search of the perfect location, a chance visit to Tasmania, attending a Dairy Conference, and a drive along the very scenic eastern shores of the Tamar Valley provided that opportunity.  A run down 100 acre cattle grazing property, with a wonderful north east facing aspect, close to the Tamar River to mitigate frosts and provide reflected heat and light to enhance grape ripening in this cool climate.

The DPI and a local vineyard consultant advised us that our selected site was marginally suitable for growing vines but part of the attraction of the Tamar Valley for us was being part of the newly emerging wine industry in Tasmania, and the fact that there were few established vineyards on the East Tamar.  We were excited but undaunted by the challenges of the unknown ahead.  We did however take comfort in the knowledge that even if we could not grow vines on this site, it was a beautiful piece of land, close to Launceston where we would enjoy living and establishing ourselves in the community.

We were also greatly encouraged by local historical information regarding Dr Matthias Gaunt, who planted the first vineyard in the Tamar Valley in the 1840’s on the property he named Windermere, reminiscent of the Lake District in England from where he emigrated in 1830.  His obituary (1874) in the local Examiner newspaper records “30 years ago he commenced the cultivation of grapes and from his vineyard some very superior wine is annually produced”. We planted our vines on the northern slopes of Gaunt’s Hill, Windermere.

In July 1994 we purchased the property. Sheena embarked on a 4 year degree course in viticulture/winemaking through Charles Sturt University.  Every opportunity between then and February 2009 we travelled from wherever Tim was currently based, Chicago, London, Minneapolis, Amsterdam, Auckland back to our chosen spot to put the theory of  vineyard establishment into practice.

Surrounded by natural bush land and Native Point Nature Reserve our vineyard plans focused initially on re-vegetation to encourage native biodiversity.  We planted 4,000 native trees for perimeter windbreaks, built wild life fences around the planned 5 hectare vineyard site, installed a 15 mega litre dam and drip irrigation system, built a cottage, 300sq m shed with cool room and erected trellising for the vines.

Sheena and Tim High

Native Point Wines' Sheena and Tim High at their scenic vineyard in northern Tasmania

Having researched both the global and local markets we selected the true cool climate varieties, best suited to Northern Tasmania, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.  Sourcing appropriate clones was a particular challenge locally so cuttings were sourced through vine improvement schemes in Victoria and South Australia to ensure heritage and virus free status.  The vines are planted on their own roots with the hope that Tasmania will remain phylloxera free.

The first vines were planted as rootlings in 1999 and yielded our first small crop in 2001.  From then until 2009 we sold the grapes to allow the vines to mature before launching our own label..  With the exception of 6 tonnes of Pinot Noir in 2005 which was an exceptional vintage, so we would have an aged wine as part of our portfolio.

During these years we have learnt that the location of the vineyard and unique microclimate allows us to selectively harvest different clones at optimal flavour ripeness and acidity.  Low yields and long slow ripening conditions result in wines with distinctive varietal intensity, elevated fruit spice and mineral complexity.  To ensure the highest possible quality fruit, meticulous attention is paid to canopy management and vine nutrition.  The vines are nurtured and pampered throughout the season by a dedicated team of local helpers with all pruning and picking done by hand.
Our first wines were launched in February 2010, comprising 2005 and 2008 Pinot Noir, 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling.  The wines are a natural expression of our site and reflect the pristine surroundings and cool maritime climate of Tasmania, displaying crisp fresh acidity and well defined fruit flavours.
We are very happy to share our naturally elegant wines with you

Sheena and Tim in the vineyard, January 2011

Sheena and Tim in the vineyard, January 2011