Australia has been on my Bucket List for as long as I can remember.
But being quite so far away, it’s somewhere I felt I really needed an excuse to visit.
Thankfully, Jacob’s Creek offered me just such an excuse! They asked if I would like to visit their world-famous winery, see the Creek in Autumn as the leaves begin to turn, learn a little of their 167 year heritage and meet some of the craftsmen who make every drop special. This all ties into their “Made By” campaign, which is about the people, places and passions that make the wine what it is today.
You don’t have to ask me twice!
I hopped on a plane with my chap, and a couple of days later we woke up in the Barossa Valley, in Southern Australia.
Immediately met one of the key pollination craftsmen.
Who wished me a g’day and carried on his way.
The Jacob’s Creek winery is one of the oldest and biggest in Australia. The place welcomes visitors every day, whether they’ve flown in from London, or are just riding through on their bicycles.
There are bean bags for lounging in the sunshine, and old barrels set up as lunch tables.
The grounds are surrounded by swaying eucalyptus trees, where if you look very carefully you might see a koala bear…
Not in that picture however. (Made you look!)
We started the day with a little wine education.
(If school had been like this I might have paid a little more attention!)
“The Sensory Tasting Session” is an exercise for all senses, looking at how the complex flavours within the wines change with different foods.
It’s all about wine pairing and how the right combination can really take the food and wine to the next level.
Having explored all of your senses, the black cup is there to deprive you of them.
To see if you can name the wine without seeing it first.
Which is harder than it sounds!
I won’t give away the answer, because it’s an experience you should try for yourself. You can book in online.
After a little break, a walk around the vines and a snooze in the sun… we moved on to our next round of education.
If the Sensory Experience was school, the “Food & Wine Masterclass” is University!
You try six of Jacob’s Creek’s most spectacular wines, each paired with a treat from the exceptionally talented chefs.
Followed by a two course lunch, with some more wine.
After lunch we went for a tour of the vines with Tim McCarthy, the utterly charming Viticulture Manager.
We stood in a vineyard with 14 different varieties of wine grapes, each variety planted as one row.
Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, all grow here.
During the growing season, October to March, you can observe the differences in the growth pattern, leaf shape, bunch size and appearance, and ripening progress of the grapes to learn how unique each grape variety is.
Some ripen early, some late, some have big berries, and others are small.
Each has its own character and requirements to get the best quality fruit at harvest time.
We came just after harvest and just before pruning, so didn’t get to see the berries.
But Autumn has its own unique beauty.
I was even allowed to plant my very own Shiraz vine on the northern bank of Jacob’s Creek!
I dug, tucked it in and gave it a bath.
In four years that is going to be the best damn bottle of Shiraz you have ever tasted!
As the sun set, we took to our bikes and headed off into the hills.
(With a well stocked basket, naturally.)
We rolled through fiery golden vineyards, nestled in lush green valleys.
Along chalky white tracks in the dwindling light.
Up in the hills we got the most amazing view of the Barossa below.
We sat and looked out over the land.
Johann Gramp (an immigrant from Hamburg) planted his first vines on the banks of Jacob’s Creek in 1847.
Isn’t it incredible to think that something with humble beginnings, so very long ago, can be a worldwide household staple in 2015?
Everyone knows someone who has had a glass of Jacob’s Creek.
Talk about goals!
On our way back down into the valley, two locals crossed our path.
My first kangaroo sighting!
They stopped, looked at us, wiggled their ears, and hopped off again.
I don’t think I could possibly have asked for a more magical introduction to Australia.
This post was commissioned by Jacob’s Creek who wanted me to see what it was like to spend time as their guest; which is something everyone can do. Have a look here and see which experience you’d like best.
I spent a few days in the creek, so don’t worry, there’s lots more to come!