It’s a glorious Saturday afternoon in the picturesque Barossa village of Krondorf and Jess Greatwich is in her element.
Laughter ricochets around the old stone cottage as Jess – co-owner and current custodian of Krondorf Creek Farm guides her guests through a wine tasting.
“This is my happy place, absolutely,” smiles Jess and her delight at introducing her guests to the nuanced wonders of the Barossa is evident.
Jess and her partner James Ehrat have been working for fifteen years to bring Krondorf Creek Farm to life. When James purchased a ramshackle old farming property on Krondorf Road in 2002 it had been abandoned for nigh on sixty years and was in a state of almost total disrepair, with multiple stone cottages in imminent danger of collapse and more weeds than anything else on the former sheep property and butchery.
“This property was owned by the Lindner family for over 150 years,” explains James. “It was the butchery for the little village of Krondorf, and supplied all the local families here and in Bethany with their meat. I just fell in love with it. I’d always wanted to have a piece of land where I could plant my own vineyards and eventually make my own wines and when this opportunity came up I grabbed it with both hands.”
It stands to reason then that the first order of business was the vineyard, with James sourcing cuttings from trusted friends across the Barossa. He nurtured every cane in a home nursery and in the following spring paced out and planted them by hand – all 7547 vines. Cabernet and Shiraz are trellised, with the Mataro and Grenache planted as bushvines.
Says James, “we knew there was once an old Mataro vineyard planted along this ancient creek line and I wanted to bring that back into the landscape. The bushvines are a lot more work but the fruit they produce is incredible.” There are 13 acres in total, a drop in the ocean of the Barossa, but the centre of life for Krondorf Creek Farm.
“Our beautiful vineyard is the foundation of everything we do,” says Jess. “James spends countless hours out there throughout the year, pruning, dodging, working the ground. We manage the vineyard organically as much as we possibly can and I think all that love and care really shows through. Come vintage each year we have this beautiful fruit that really speaks of this little patch of earth – it really is of this place.
The notion of place comes up time and again as Jess and James tell their story. It’s clear that they are passionately invested in their property, in its stories of the past and in its exciting future.
They opened their Cellar Door to the public in September 2018, housed in the old butchery smokehouse, which boasts one of the most impressive open fireplaces in the Barossa. It’s here that Jess personally hosts every wine tasting.
“James’ wines are generous, fruit-driven and characteristically soft,” explains Jess. “It makes sense when you consider how much work goes into growing the grapes – we really want those abundant fruit characters to be the primary element that you can see in the wines. We don’t use new oak, and we aim for modest alcohol levels so that the fruit can really shine.
In addition to hosting wine tastings in the Cellar Door, Jess offers a weekly Heritage Walking Tour through the village of Krondorf.
“It’s a bit of a passion project,” smiles Jess. “I just love it. The opportunity to share the cultural history of the Barossa, to delve a little deeper into the characters and stories of this region… It’s really special to share that with our guests.”
Jess’ enthusiasm for the Barossa is infectious and it means her guests always leave with a list of recommendations for other Cellar Doors, restaurants, cafes, providores and experiences to seek out during their stay.
“The Barossa really is an incredible place to live. We have been so supported by our community and other wine businesses since we opened our Cellar Door and we try to pay that forward every opportunity we get.”
It’s been fifteen years of work to bring together the vineyard, James’ wines, and the restoration of the numerous old stone buildings. Opening their Cellar Door has allowed Jess and James to welcome people to their special corner of the Barossa is a way that hasn’t been possible in the past.
“It’s such an exiting time,” says Jess. “Krondorf Creek Farm as it stands today is a living link back through 150 years of Barossa heritage, and it’s a wonderful thing that we can now invite people to share in that with us. Come in for a wine tasting and a chat, or join us for a Heritage Walking Tour on a Sunday morning. We’ll look forward to welcoming you.”
Krondorf Creek Farm offer wine tasting and sales of their true estate wines from their restored stone Cellar Door Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 12-5pm. Heritage Walking Tours are hosted every Sunday from 9am to 11am through the village of Krondorf.
For more information, please visit krondorfcreekfarm.com.au
VISIT KRONDORF CREEK FARM TODAY
PHONE 0424 895 309
VISIT 224 Krondorf Road, Krondorf, South Australia