Josef Chromy escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia in 1950, a penniless 19-year-old, and made his way to Australia. After working at a cement and asbestos factory in northwest Tasmania, he saved enough money to start his own butchery, although due to language difficulties and a lack of capital, the business collapsed. Nevertheless, Josef continued on with his new venture to Blue Ribbon Meat Products, which became one of the state’s leading butcheries. Josef acquired farms, piggeries, factories and other properties, eventually taking the company public. Fast forward a few years and Josef’s company, the JAC Group, had acquired several leading wineries, and after more purchases and sales, he started the Josef Chromy brand in 2007 - at age 76. The winery quickly gained many awards and became one of the most successful wineries in Tasmania. The 150-acre vineyard produces a number of varieties made from estate fruit, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris. Despite suffering a stroke just before his 76th birthday, Josef, with utmost determination, trekked the road to recovery. The wines are now produced by Chief Winemaker and General Manager Jeremy Dineen, a Tasmanian with much experience crafting vintages in Margaret River, McLaren Vale and the Goulburn Valley, Victoria.
Josef Chromy Wines are available across several labels. ‘Pepik’ is the ‘informal’ range of wines, made for everyday drinking, and includes Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Sparkling Rosé. The ‘Josef Chromy’ label is for wines that showcase the varietal expression of the cool-climate vineyard, and includes a range of sparkling, white, red and dessert wines. The ‘Zdar’ range (named after Josef’s hometown in the Czech Republic) is reserved for parcels of wine that truly excel, and therefore is only made in limited releases.
For more information on Josef Chromy and his fascinating story, head to his website.