Visiting the historic stone Henschke Cellar Door, built in the 1860s by Johann Christian Henschke, is one of the most charming experiences in the Barossa. It’s a tiny cellar for such an internationally acclaimed winery but in these intimate surrounds, tasting a line-up of beautiful wines, watched over by portraits of Henschke forebears, you feel very connected to six generations of family who have contributed to the success of Henschke.
The landmark Gnadenberg Lutheran church, which overlooks the Hill of Grace vineyard, was built by the early Silesian settlers who migrated to this area, including Henschke ancestors. It is possible to visit this singular vineyard now as Henschke offers an exclusive VIP Tour and Tasting experience which includes a visit to the Hill of Grace, followed by a tour of the working winery and a private hosted tasting.
The first commercial release of a Henschke wine was in 1868. Initially Johann Christian made wines for his family and friends, but inevitably demand grew and wines were made for sale. Each generation has added to the Henschke philosophy of making high quality handcrafted wines.
In more recent times, fourth-generation Cyril Henschke pioneered varietal and single-vineyard wines in an era when blended wines and fortifieds were in vogue. His greatest legacy was the creation of Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone in the 1950s, shiraz wines from Eden Valley that have captured the red wine world’s imagination.
Today, fifth-generation Stephen Henschke and his wife Prue are passionately upholding the family name and reputation. They are a highly regarded team who are recognised for the complementary nature of their roles – Stephen as winemaker and Prue as viticulturist. While they are perhaps most famous for Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone, they continue to surprise with their new styles and techniques.
Fruit is handpicked and then fermented at the winery, the reds in traditional open-topped fermenters using a submerged-cap fermentation method, with no fining and minimal filtration so that maximum flavour, structure and wine complexity is maintained.
Prue’s meticulous, innovative viticultural management has seen not only new life breathed into the venerable vines, but also a new direction given to white winemaking that their forebears could never have imagined.
The sixth generation, Johann, Justine and Andreas, are all actively involved in helping Stephen and Prue explore new and exciting developments. Among these are organic and biodynamic principles that will enrich the land of their forebears and strengthen a future in winemaking for the generations to come.
By working with the environment and nature’s cycles, Stephen and Prue are finding better natural ways to manage disease, insects, pests and soil nutrition. For decades they have been
reaping the benefits of mulching, composting and the use of native permanent swards to build up the health of soils and preserve soil moisture. The inclusion of biodynamic principles in vineyard management gives a twofold benefit – replacement of inorganic fertilisers with compost, and the end of using herbicides. Cow manure and eggshells, together with the recycling of the grape marc, combine to produce compost to improve soil health, while local native plants provide nectar to attract beneficial insects that help with pest and disease control.
In the vineyards, Prue’s ‘nursery program’ on Mount Edelstone and Hill of Grace will preserve these vineyards’ precious genetic heritage by growing new vines from meticulously selected cuttings of the original vines, and developing them over the coming years.
The influence of the moon cycles associated with the biodynamic calendar has always been an important and familiar feature in the operation of the Henschke vineyards, with the Hill of Grace vineyard often picked just before the full moon of Easter and the Mount Edelstone vineyard a week or so after.
To gain a fascinating insight into the Henschke history and principles of winemaking and viticulture, book a VIP Tasting and Tour. For details, call the winery on +61 8 8564 8223 or email email@example.com