Henschke is one of Australia’s leading winemakers and grapegrowers recognised for its rich heritage, innovative spirit and commitment to handcrafting exceptional wines for 150 years. The Henschke family’s grape growing and winemaking tradition spans six generations, from outstanding sustainable vineyards in Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills.
Over the last 30 years Stephen and Prue Henschke have nurtured 105 hectares of vineyard, spanning from Eden Valley to Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills wine region. Stephen and Prue continue to craft their white wines with a focus on purity, while their red wines have a strong focus on terroir, using traditional winemaking techniques.
“Prue and I are the current ‘keepers of the flame’. Just as earlier generations have done, we want to manage the vineyards and winery so they can be passed on to the next generation in better condition than we inherited them. The last 50 years have been an incredible journey for the Australian wine industry. Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone are arguably the two oldest single vineyard wines produced in this country that tell the wine story of Australia. Our vision would not be complete without the expectation that future generations will uphold and perpetuate our belief that such ancient and unique single-vineyard sites can produce exceptional wines that are prized for their beauty and rarity.”
Stephen has retained the traditional approach to red winemaking used by his forebears. They handled the wines gently; used minimal racking, low sulphur, gentle fining and filtration, unlike what is so often done today for ‘cosmetic’ reasons. Stephen’s forebears took a puristic, holistic approach that had been passed down from generation to generation so it was almost intuitive. At the ’50 Years of Hill of Grace’ celebration in 2008 when Stephen tasted every vintage – some for the first time – he was struck by how closely he was emulating his father’s winemaking of the late 1950s and the 60s with his minimal intervention techniques.
With today’s advanced viticultural practices, of course, the greatest focus is given to the quality of fruit in the vineyard. And just as success of the reds is largely attributed to fruit quality, so too is the quality of the whites. If Stephen shows a traditional influence with red winemaking, then it is true to say he has been influenced by his German studies for the whites. In a way he is using the best of Old World tradition coupled with New World technology. He retains a purity of fruit through careful handling of the juice and wine, which brings out the intense, varietally pure perfumes of the natural grape flavours. Combine this with the today’s technology – and taste the resulting whites – and it is clear that Stephen has created a new direction for Henschke that his forebears could never have imagined. In recent years they have welcomed next-generation family members into the business. Their son, Johann, has carried on the family winemaking tradition in his capacity as winemaker and viticulturist since 2013, as the fifth and sixth-generations transition through this important period of the transfer of knowledge, skills, and traditions.