Barristers Block guilty of being a great wine brand!
"The combination of fire and pandemic has shown our Barristers Block team to be creative and passionate; strong, resilient and determined to be bigger and better in every way we can. We’ve looked through to a shining future!"
Judge: Have you considered your verdict?
Jury Foreman: Yes sir
Judge: Is Barristers Block guilty or innocent of being a great winery?
Jury Foreman: Guilty!
Judge: Is Barristers Block guilty or innocent of making excellent wines?
Jury Foreman: Guilty!
Judge: Is Barristers Block guilty or innocent of delivering a complete wine experience?
A legal fracas inspired the name for the brand much admired by not only legal eagle loyal clients but a gallery of wine buff customers.
Barristers Block was created over 20 short years ago, from little more than an idea. It was fashioned into a dream, built into reality and realized into a future legacy for Jan Siemelink-Allen’s family. Jan grew up in a rural family; a move to the South-East of South Australia, adjacent Coonawarra exposed her to some of the region’s most influential vintners and winemakers and set her on her groundbreaking path… starting with hand-stone-picking 30 acres of land for her first vineyard.
Jan oversees the production of over 15,000 cases of wine (and growing) and the management of almost 50 acres over two vineyards at Wrattonbully in the South-East of the state and Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. Sales are conducted nationwide and most importantly to customers direct, on-line and via an outstanding cellar door and headquarters at Woodside.
Barristers Block’s success is evidenced by the ‘sell-out’ of every recent vintage. A rare claim in a crowded market achieved by an “integrated wine tourism business” as described by Jan. It didn’t just happen… in usual Jan fashion, it was planned.
As a single mother of two young boys Jan appreciated many years ago, the value and need for a family experience. The Woodside estate combines a cellar door and separate intimate tasting room for tutored wine tastings. The historic former dairy property includes a fine dining space for weekday 5-star food offerings, a blended indoor/outdoor weekend casual area for tasting and grazing, as well as a function venue. For those that love a picnic or walk – beautiful gardens, rolling lawns and paddocks of petting animals, play areas and even a sandpit. All topped off with the gracious 3-bedroom Vigneron Villa accommodation in the original homestead.
Jan is proud of what she achieved as her own boss and a one-man-band (or one-woman-band?) in the early days. Barristers Block as founded by Jan is now firmly a family concern. Agricultural Production graduate son Lachlan is Operations Manager; Double degreed James, an accountant, accomplished in his own right, responsible for matters financial and business advice.
Involvement over many years throughout the whole wine arena from that stone clearance in deep ripped vineyards, to sales in retail, wholesale, hospitality and export; to trips and tastings through Europe and Asia; to banker wrangling; to cellar door sales and even making pizzas and B & B beds – has given Jan a humility born from the hard graft of a complex business. And Jan has seen it all – including the destruction of her entire Woodside vineyard in the 2021 Adelaide Hills fires.
“The fire…was the greatest shock and knock down at the time, it tested us all and brought all of us closer together at the same time. From the local community to my staff and friends; wine industry associates, to the amazing customers who purchased wine to support us and help us work through the devastation.
“We now are working at being as positive as we can be and using all the skills our agricultural upbringing has taught us. We never assume anything, never give up, are never complacent and never take the little things for granted.
“The combination of fire and pandemic has shown our Barristers Block team to be creative and passionate; strong, resilient and determined to be bigger and better in every way we can. We’ve looked through to a shining future!
“Finally, it’s important to us the Barristers Block vineyards are managed on minimal intervention principles. This means there is minimum irrigation, a preference for natural pest control and fertilisers over chemical solutions. We run sheep through the vines during winter and early spring. We believe caring for the soil, building up the organic matter and fertilising naturally, yields more resilient vines, producing better tasting fruit for wine. The wines themselves are vegan – not processed with fish or animal products as is often the case in the industry.”
When asked to describe herself in wine terms, Jan’s reply was “…zesty and lively, with great fruit characters, lengthy palate, with a memorable finish!” A little like her current favourite Barristers Block wine – the ’21 Aston Fiano. Or of course, maybe the Barristers Block hero wine – 2016 JP Shiraz. Or then it might be the ‘21 Sparkling Blush from the Poetic Justice Range – a superb entry level wine. It’s a bit like asking a person to nominate their favourite child…there is no definitive answer.
Finally, Jan nailed it – the Wrattonbully 2019 Sparkling Shiraz. “This wine speaks a lot for me – it comes from the region where my love of wine was born, it reminds me of the interesting phases I have gone through in my life. It’s gutsy but elegant, intense but vibrant. The grapes from Wrattonbully have not only produced numerous award-winning wines, but it also validated my belief in the region, when they were included in the blend for the 2004 celebrated Jimmy Watson Trophy winner. The ‘Bully’ Shiraz also reminds me of my achievements as a single mum to Lachlan and James – giving them an appreciation for the land and hard work, of the importance of family and the importance to care, share and celebrate friends and family.”
‘Force of nature’ is another term that springs to mind when describing Siemelink-Allen. Determined to forge her way in one of the most competitive industries in Australia is not an easy task, nor is Jan a push-over, as many who have stood in the way ultimately understood. Including the barrister’s involved in that original legal battle.
Telephone: (08) 8389 7706