The Barossa Valley in South Australia is arguably Australia’s best wine producing region. Representatives from some of Australia’s other great wine regions may disagree with that statement, but what is undeniable is that the Barossa Valley produced the first great wines in Australia.
Although it is a relatively small area, the Barossa is home to some of the top names in Australian winemaking, and the level of wine production there is mind bogglingly large.
One of the largest produces it Orlando, and its winery at Rowlands Flat is immense, and seems to operate for 24 hours a day to produce a great number of wines.
Jacob’s Creek is one of Orlando’s best known brands. So named because Jacob’s Creek does actually wind its way through one of its vineyards, the Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre is a magnificent, new building that is set in one of its most important vineyards.
Surrounded by large windows to highlight the panoramic views of the vineyards and distant hills, the Visitor Centre is large, airy and welcoming. According to winemaker Bernie Hicken, the Visitor Centre is attracting about 200,000 visitors per year. It is so spacious that, even on a busy day, it never seems to get crowded.
As well as the tasting area, the Visitor Centre is part museum, and also boasts a popular restaurant which gets some of its produce absolutely fresh from its own kitchen garden. The restaurant is the perfect place in which to marry good food with great wines in an ambience which makes you feel part of the Barossa.
Jacob’s Creek is one of Australia’s most successful wine exports, and is now available in 70 countries throughout the world.
Just outside the Visitor Centre is a small section of vineyard which has samples of each of the grape varieties used to produce Jacob’s Creek wines.
I was fortunate to be able to taste the fruit of these vines, as it was harvesting season and they were almost ripe enough for picking. Bernie explained that part of the winemaker’s role is to taste the fruit several times per day to determine the exact time to harvest, when the fruit was at its peak. According to Bernie, a good winemaker can tell how the wine will taste just by trying the fruit.
Of course, one of the pleasures of visiting a winery is actually to taste the product, and Jacob’s Creek wines are superb.
The grounds and facilities at Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre are superb, and it is an attraction that should be visited on a trip to the Barossa Valley.