The island’s unique, wild beauty and laid-back style helped it take the top spot in Cooking Light readers’ votes for ultimate up-and-coming destination.

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For Wine Lovers: Coal River Valley

Tasmania has gained an enviable reputation for its crisp cool-climate wines, particularly chardonnay, pinot noir, and sparkling wine, but differing microclimates and soil types throughout the state make a range of grapes viable. The Coal River Valley is the state’s fastest-growing wine region, and driving through the rural splendor you’d hardly believe you’re only 15 minutes northeast of the capital city of Hobart.

At Meadowbank Estate, you’ll find a tasting room and first-class restaurant with a broad menu of appetizer-sized dishes, including half-shell scallops with Tasmanian truffle-infused butter and brioche crumbs. Try them with a glass of the estate’s Grace Elizabeth chardonnay, redolent of stone fruit.

Up the road from Meadowbank is Puddleduck, a small family-run vineyard. You’re welcome to bring your own picnic (stock supplies in Hobart, or in the nearby town of Richmond), or the friendly owners Darren and Jackie Brown can provide a platter of local cheeses. If there’s any of their sparkling wine to be sampled (the fabulous Bubbleduck is prone to selling out), consider yourself lucky; if not, the rosé (one of few made in Tasmania, with hints of strawberry) makes a fine and flavorful substitute.

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