Frequently Asked Questions
Who owns Jack Estate Winery?
Jack Estate is family owned by the Lees family who have been involved in Australian farming and agriculture for over a century. Jack Estate is their first venture into the Australian Wine Industry.
When was the winery established?
Jack Estate was established in 2011 with the purchase of the Mildara Blass winery in Coonawarra, built in 1963. We are proud to be able to continue to work in this historical site that sits squarely in the centre of the Coonawarra Wine Region.
Where did the name Jack Estate come from?
The word JACK is of Ancient Celtic Origin meaning “Healthy, Strong and Full of Vital Energy”. We wanted a name that symbolized our family’s strong connection with the land, a tradition we have upheld for over a century. It also encapsulates the very essence of grape growing and winemaking. From the viticultural practices in our vineyards to the winemaking processes of crafting our JACK ESTATE wine range, each step involves one crucial key element; it is Full of Vital Energy.
Where do you grow your grapes?
The Lees family own a hectare of Cabernet Sauvignon vines at the front of our winery in Coonawarra which sits atop the prime ‘Terra Rossa’ soil that the region is so famous for. As well as the Winery Block we work closely with long term, contract grape growers from selected sites within Coonawarra and a small amount in Wrattonbully which produce the fruit for our premium Jack Estate and Mythology series wines. We also own a vineyard at Lake Cullulleraine, a short drive from Mildura in Victoria. It produces a number of varieties, in particular the Shiraz and Cabernet for our M-R series.
What is this ‘Terra Rossa’ soil that makes Coonawarra famous?
Terra Rossa literally means ‘Red Earth’ and it is this red earth that makes such intense, full flavoured red wines in Coonawarra.
These soils form a thin, cigar shape more than 20 km long but only 1 kilometre wide in parts. The Coonawarra soils differ from the other vineyard areas within Australia because of this thin, continuous shape and in the colour intensity of the red soil. Terra rossa topsoil is rich and free draining but thin - from just 5 centimetres to 100 centimetres deep. It is one of the best soils for growing vines in Australia; ideal for creating small, well coloured berries that develop in optimal sunlight. The end result is a yield of intensely flavoured grapes that are perfectly suited for making premium wine.
How many cases do you produce?
We currently produce approximately 9,000 cases of wine per year, making us a small - medium sized producer.
What is the difference between your labels?
Our M-R series is produced from fruit grown in our warmer inland vineyards around Mildura. They are medium bodied, fruit driven wines that are drinking well while still young.
Our Jack Estate range is produced using premium, cooler climate fruit from within Coonawarra and a small amount from the neighbouring Wrattonbully region. These wines are elegant, full bodied styles that can be enjoyed now or cellared into the future.
The Mythology series is our reserve range that represents the pinnacle of Coonawarra Cabernet and Shiraz. We only produce this range in outstanding vintages as the absolute best barrels are selected from within our Jack Estate portfolio. Once selected these barrels are left to mature for a total of 26 months before being bottled.
What’s the difference between the red and white wine making process?
The main differences between the two processes are: white grapes are pressed after crushing to separate juice from skins which is then fermented as a “clean” juice. To give it colour and flavour, red wine is fermented with the skins, seeds and juice all mixed together. These skins and seeds float to the surface during fermentation, so in order to extract more colour and flavour we use processes to keep them submerged with the juice.
Most of our red wine undergoes barrel maturation and malo-lactic fermentation (the use of bacterial cultures to convert the harsh malic acid in wine to the softer lactic acid) while only some of our chardonnay undergoes barrel maturation and malo-lactic fermentation. Red wine is aged for longer before being bottled while white wine is generally much faster and released earlier.
What is so good about fermenting in your concrete, open top fermenters as opposed to tanks?
Our 50 year old concrete open top fermenters allow us to ferment small, individual portions of particular vineyards. Even though they come from the same block, fruit still differs greatly from one end of the vineyard to the other. These fermenters allow us to keep those parcels separate. They also allow us to hand plunge the ferment which allows us to extract softer, more delicate flavours and tannins from the skins of the red grapes. Skins and in particular seeds of grapes contain bitter, astringent compounds that can be over extracted if you are too forceful. Keeping the ferment in constant contact with the surrounding oxygen in the air also makes for a healthier, more stable ferment. This is a particularly laborious, thus more expensive way of producing red wine, but it makes for a far superior product.
What type of oak barrels do you use? How long do you use them for?
Most of the oak barrels we use are French Hogsheads with some American to add complexity to the blend. We primarily use the cooperage companies St Martin, Seguin Moreau, AP John and Saury. We generally use very tight grained, medium toasted oak. Medium toast means the interior of the barrel has been fired (charred with open flames) to give off more flavour. French oak is typically tighter more elegant oak giving spice and aromatics to the wine, while American oak is a broader, fuller style giving off distinctive vanilla characters.
Our barrels generally see a rotation of around 3 -7 years, after which we will no longer use them for wine storage.
Brand new oak has the most/strongest flavour and careful selection of new and older oak barrels for our wine maturation is a delicate balance which requires the skill of a good winemaker. Some wines cannot handle new oak, while others will benefit from as much new oak as we can give it. Generally most of our wines will have seen a mixture of both new and old oak.