Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

Meet the Characters: Conor van der Reest, Moorilla

“If Mona is irreverent, Moorilla is reverent,” says Conor van der Reest. “We know what we grow and we know what we make and we’ve focused on that.” Moorilla’s enigmatic owner David Walsh enlisted the Canadian-born winemaker in 2007 to overhaul the winery, which shares its peninsula with Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona). Conor proceeded with reverence for the terroir of one of Tasmania’s oldest vineyards. “We’re really in it for the long term,” he says. “It’s quite different to David’s vision for Mona, which he jokes could all be underwater in 50 years!”

Conor had long seen parallels between Australia’s southernmost state and his homeland. “Here is very similar to back home, both from a cool-climate perspective but also from the size and scale of our industries.” Even so, he was surprised by the diversity at Moorilla, which yields dozens of distinct small batches. It offers an extraordinary palette to work with and has translated into three labels – Praxis, Muse and the hallmark Cloth Label Series. “That variation we see in our vineyards extends out to the island as a whole,” Conor says. “All of that natural complexity makes Tasmania a perfect wine-lover’s playground.”

Over 13 years, Conor has created something that sits alongside the cultural phenomenon that is Mona while holding its own. It’s an experience he encourages visitors to unpack at their own pace. On their commanding perch over the pristine Derwent River, Mona and Moorilla reward a full day’s exploration (or two). “Between the winery and the museum, it was always David’s desire not to point the way for our visitors,” Conor says. “It’s really about self-discovery and self-exploration. If I tell you more then I might ruin the surprise.”