Australian wine legend Philip Laffer has retired as chief winemaker of Jacob's Creek and will step down from his international duties at the end of the year.

Laffer steps down after 20 years at the company, where he was credited with driving the development of Australian wine to export.

His successor, Bernard Hickin, has 34 years experience making Jacob's Creek.

"My initial focus will be on launching our Regional Reserves to reflect the quality of our grapes across our winemaking regions, from Barossa Shiraz to Coonawarra Cabernet," said Hickin. "The 2010 vintage is looking outstanding, so I would expect the quality across our portfolio to be exceptional."

Hickin has worked with Laffer for nearly 20 years. "My philosophy is very similar to his in that quality will always come first and foremost in my wine­making."