Perth-raised star of Channel Seven’s Packed to the Rafters, Jacob ‘‘Jake’’ Allan is no stranger to wine, but his love of French-grown grapes began with home-grown hard work.
At 14, Allan holidayed in Bordeaux with his insurance lawyer father, ‘‘a romantic, Rumpole-esque-type character’’. On the flight back, Allan’s father decided to establish a vineyard three hours south of Perth, which still operates 22 years later.
The future actor spent the latter part of that year helping his parents, aunt and uncle dig and plant vines – ‘‘shoving sticks in the ground’’ – to establish the family vineyard, Rosily Wines in Margaret River.
‘‘Wine was always around the table at home,’’ Allan says while relaxing at a small Paddington bar, 10 William Street.
‘‘Every Thursday night we’d have blind-tasting night. Ever since I was a kid, I’d have to smell and taste and guess what the wine was.’’
At 29, Allan temporarily shelved acting for two years to learn more about wine, possibly to start his own business.
He moved to London and took a management job with Corney and Barrow. He trained wine staff and somelliers across the wine merchant’s 15 wine bars and explored more of Bordeaux.
Copious staff wine tastings at Corney and Barrow led Allan to the wine that has become his favourite – a chenin blanc from the Vouvray region in France’s Loire Valley.
Allan drinks Vouvray wine on social occasions with groups of friends, who tease him about his choice.
‘‘‘Who ordered the vouvray?’ they always say. Because it’s always me. I’m obvious in my choices and I don’t deviate too much,’’ he says.
A good Vouvray has ‘‘a great minerality, great acidity and yet a great voluptuousness – is that a word?’’ he says, laughing. ‘‘Its got a lovely texture and Ilike that it often has a bit of sweetness.’’
Returning to Australia, the acting career having cooled off, Allan was forced to make a living by selling wine for a multinational company by phoning strangers.
‘‘Not that I like to admit it,’’ he says. ‘‘I was selling my soul and felt terrible, dirty, flogging wine to people who didn’t want it.’’
So he moved to Victoria’s Yarra Valley, where he worked for the Giant Steps winery for two years, a much happier experience.
However, Allan realised he could start his own business and, in 2010, began Garrick’s Wine, which wholesales wines to restaurants. He has also had an acting renaissance, landing parts in the television series Winners and Losers, and in Packed to the Rafters as long-lost brother and musician Matt Rafter.
He manages his wine business on his laptop between filming scenes – a sure sign that, in television, there’s a lot of waiting around.