lunes, 5 de agosto de 2013

Henschke Winery - Australia


More than 140 years of grapegrowing and winemaking, spanning six generations of the Henschke family, constitutes an integral part of the Australian quality wine history.

Fifth-generation Stephen Henschke and his wife Prue together with their children Johann, Justine and Andreas are the current custodians passionately upholding the family name and reputation.

The Henschke family have been making wine since 1862 with each generation building upon the foundations of their forebears.

C A Henschke & Co
PO Box 100
Keyneton S.A. 5353
Telephone +61 (0)8 8564 8223
Fax +61 (0)8 8564 8294

For visits the street address is: 1428 Keyneton Road, Keyneton SA 5353

Latitude: 34.5787
Longitude: 138.240299


The Henschke family has been making wine since Johann Christian Henschke planted a small vineyard on his diverse farming property at Keyneton in 1862. He was one of many Silesians who had fled their homeland in search of religious freedom, and he arrived from Kutschlau in 1841. The wine was initially intended for consumption by family and friends, but with the first commercial release in 1868, believed to be principally riesling and shiraz, the wheels were set in motion for greater things to come.

Each generation has built upon the foundations of Henschke. In more recent times, fourth-generation Cyril Henschke pioneered varietal and single-vineyard wines at a time 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, it is fifth-generation Stephen Henschke and his wife Prue at the helm, passionately upholding the family name and reputation. This highly regarded team has won a multitude of awards that recognise the complementary nature of their roles - Stephen as winemaker and Prue as viticulturist. One of the most notable things about the couple is their ability to keep devotees fascinated. While they are perhaps most famous for Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone, they continue to surprise with their new styles and techniques. 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.

Henschke boasts a strong portfolio, with a focus on ultra-premium single-vineyard wines. They maintain their ‘Exceptional wines from outstanding vineyards’ by sourcing additional fruit from growers of excellence, from the Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills regions.

Stephen and Prue are well recognised for their complete integration of vineyard and winery, and have received many accolades. Most recently, Henschke was named 2011 Winery of the Year at the inaugural The Age/Sydney Morning Herald Good Wine Guide awards.

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.

- Stephen Henschke (Winemaker): has a wonderful family heritage of more than 140 years of grapegrowing and winemaking spanning five generations. He is proud that the Henschke name and reputation is inexorably linked with red wines in general and Hill of Grace in particular, but with winemaking his lifeblood he approaches all wine styles with the same depth of passion and commitment to quality. He is also mindful of his European roots and is a proud supporter of the historical language, food, religion and wine culture of his Silesian forebears still alive in pockets in the Barossa. Stephen’s support and contribution to the Barossa was acknowledged in 1984 when he was inducted into the Barons of Barossa wine fraternity, of which his father Cyril was a founding member.

Stephen has retained the traditional approach to red winemaking used by his forebears. You can imagine their surprise at finding how ripe the grapes became in their newly adopted sunny country. Their table wines would have become high in alcohol and fermented dry, due to the warmer conditions. Wine exports towards the turn of the century required fortifying the wines due to microbiological spoilage problems. This technology lasted throughout the war years, until the demand for table wine flourished due to the contribution to their wine and food culture by the newer immigrants from southern Europe, predominantly from Italy and Greece.

The shift from fortified wines meant they picked the grapes ripe to achieve full maturity and to gain intensity of colour, flavour and mature tannins - something that is not out of place for rich, full-bodied reds - while the winemaking itself took a minimalist approach. They handled the wines gently, used minimal racking, low sulphur, gentle fining and filtration and like 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 '40 Years of Hill of Grace' celebration in 1998 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.

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. As the Australian wine industry has advanced, Stephen has adopted recognised technology such as the use of inert gas to minimise oxidation and more flexible refrigeration in the winery. The increase in the understanding of the chemistry of winemaking has also contributed to the success of the white wines - a raft of chemical analyses gives greater control than just a few.

If Stephen shows a traditional influence with red winemaking, then it is true to say he has been influenced by German technology for 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 embarked on a new direction for Henschke that his forebears could never have imagined.

In keeping with world's best practice, Stephen and company secretary Mark Graetz embarked upon a project to develop a Quality Management System. Henschke was one of the first wineries in 1998 to achieve ISO 9002 Certification.

The highlights of Stephen's career include the following awards and nominations:

. Induction into Family Business Australia (SA) Hall of Fame 2011
. The Age/Sydney Morning Herald Good Wine Guide 2011 Winery of the Year
. 2006 Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year
. Induction into the 2005 USA Wine & Spirit Magazine Hall of Fame
. 1998 Volvo/Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year nominee
. Advance Australia Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Wine Industry in 1995
. Joint International Red Winemaker of the Year 1994/95

- Prue Henschke (Viticulturist): In 1987 Prue took on her current role as viticulturist for Henschke and her research, which is still ongoing, revolves around vineyard sward management, green waste, compost and mulches, trellis design, canopy management, soil moisture management and trials with native grasses and organic and biodynamic viticulture. Prue has always been an active participant and protector of her surroundings and as such is a member of many committees including the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology, Adelaide Hills Vine Improvement Group, Barossa Viticultural Technical Group, Adelaide Hills Wine Region Environment committee and the Barossa Water Allocation Planning Advisory committee.

Prue began her career by studying botany and zoology at Adelaide University, graduating in 1973. On completing her degree, when she and Stephen spent two years in Germany, she become involved in viticulture and plant physiology. During this time she worked in the Geisenheim Institute vineyards, as well as becoming involved in grafting and breeding. Since it was hard to get a job at the time, she worked without pay in the Botanic Institute at Geisenheim on a project to isolate root inhibitors in rootstocks.

After studying Wine Science with Stephen at Riverina College of Advanced Education in Wagga Wagga, Prue worked in 1978 at the Roseworthy Agricultural College (now Roseworthy campus of the University of Adelaide) as a technical research assistant under Peter Dry, running trials on top-grafting grape vines at the time of the Vine Pull scheme.

In 1980 Prue became a viticultural consultant and began working with Stephen in order to further develop their own research ideas and theories on cool-climate viticulture, site selection and canopy management. In 1981 Prue and Stephen purchased an apple orchard at Lenswood, in the Adelaide Hills, with the aim of eventually converting it to vineyard and establishing the site as a research tool to apply their learnings from Geisenheim. The use of VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioned canopies) and permanent swards was then extended to their Eden Valley vineyards.

In 1986 Prue began a project in the old Mount Edelstone and Hill of Grace shiraz vineyards, with the assistance of a fellow Geisenheim graduate Uschi Linssen, to select the best genetic material for vineyard replanting. This long-term project was aimed at selecting the vines that produce the most intense colour and flavour in the grapes, through a process of mass selection. With assistance from Patrick Iland from the University of Adelaide, Prue initiated trials on varying trellis styles looking at grape colour in relation to crop load and leaf area to fruit weight ratio. The results led to the development of Scott Henry trellis on the old shiraz vines to enhance the unique flavours of each of these old vines.

Travels to many different wine regions around the world has inspired Prue to trial new grape varieties and clones in the three different vineyard regions: grenache, mataro and counoise in the Barossa Valley; tempranillo, barbera, nebbiolo and various clones of shiraz and riesling in the Eden Valley; and grüner veltliner and clones of pinot noir, chardonnay and merlot in the Adelaide Hills.

The highlights of Prue's career include the following awards and nominations:

. Induction into Family Business Australia (SA) Hall of Fame 2011
. 2011 In Style and Audi Women in Style Awards - ‘Environment’ category award
. The Age/Sydney Morning Herald Good Wine Guide 2011 Winery of the Year
. 2010 Advantage SA Regional Awards - Sustainability award
. 2006 Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine Winemaker of the Year
. Induction into the 2005 USA Wine & Spirit Magazine Hall of Fame
. Selection for the Australian Rural Leadership Program Course 7, conducted in 2002
. 1998 Volvo/Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year nominee
. Barons of Barossa Viticulturist of the Year in 1997
. Advance Australia Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Wine Industry in 1995
. Regional finalist in SA Rural Women of the Year 1995
. Joint International Red Winemaker of the Year 1994/95


Johann Henschke, born in 1983, is a sixth-generation member of the Henschke family, the eldest of Stephen and Prue’s three children. Johann has known wine since birth; he, his younger sister and brother all grew up at the family winery in Keyneton, where much time was spent surrounded by fermenting grapes and wine. Johann went on to graduate from his winemaking course at the University of Adelaide in 2005, and began gaining experience in his field throughout the winemaking world. His travels have taken him to Leeuwin Estate in Margaret River, Australia (2005), Felton Road in Central Otago, New Zealand (2006), Isole e Olena in Tuscany, Italy (2006), and Arietta in the Napa Valley, USA (2007).

After several years working within various parts of the family business, Johann graduated from a two-year European Masters in Viticulture and Oenology (Vinifera EuroMaster) with the final six months spent in Geisenheim, Germany. The Master, which he completed in 2012, also took him to study in Montpellier, France and Madrid, Spain, which allowed him to gain a great diversity of research and opinions from what many would argue is the historic home of wine.

In 2013, Johann returned to Australia to join his family in the business, focusing his attention and newly-honed knowledge on their cool and steep-sloped vineyard at Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills. In the future Johann will work alongside his parents.


- Eden Valley Vineyard:

Technical, geographical & other information:
. Vineyard location: Eden Valley wine region, on Cranes Range Road, 2km west of Eden Valley, high up in the Mt Lofty ranges east of the Barossa Valley, South Australia
. Varieties: Riesling, shiraz, semillon, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer, cabernet franc, merlot, viognier. New varieties on trial:tempranillo, graciano, nebbiolo, barbera
. Age: Planted in 1968
. Average yield: 5 t/ha (2 t/acre) - varies across different varieties
. Soil: Sandy loam over gravel and bedrock, with patches of clay
. Trellis: Two Wire Vertical, Vertical Shoot Positioned, Scott Henry
. Planting: 2m x 3.4m. (cabernet sauvignon is sited on a north facing slope - generates 'solar panel' effect)
. Treatments: Undervine mulching and permanent sward, incorporating organic and biodynamic practices
. Maintenance Quality: Variation in site, variety and trellis gives us many combinations to enhance quality. Trials on canopy management and trellis style, old and new semillon clones and eutypa control
. Rainfall: 700mm
. Altitude: 500m
. Latitude: 34° 38'
. Longitude: 139° 05'
. Aspect: North through west to south
. Size: 32ha (80 acres)

Pioneer Charles Crane, after whom the village of Craneford is named, established the region in 1866, on a tributary at the source of the North Para River near Eden Valley. In 1877 George Crossman Thyer purchased a nearby property at the top of the range overlooking the valley, from a tract of land granted to George Fife Angas in 1856. This land was in the fertile area called Flaxmans Valley, named by German geologist Johann Menge in 1839. After Thyer’s death it was transferred in 1912 to Joseph Hill Thyer, who pioneered the first vines on this property.

Cyril Henschke purchased the property from his son Kenneth Crossman Thyer in 1966, and established a large planting of predominantly riesling and shiraz at a time when riesling was scarce and bonuses were being paid by the large wineries. Today the riesling is the source of the Julius Eden Valley Riesling, named in honour of Stephen's great-uncle Julius Henschke, a highly acclaimed artist and sculptor, while the shiraz is used in the Keyneton Estate Euphonium blend. This wine is named after the early English pioneer Joseph Keynes who settled at Keyneton in 1842 and after whom the village was named.

Other plantings subsequently took place. The cabernet sauvignon is the source of the Cyril Henschke, the wine made to honour the fourth generation of the Henschke family and one of Australia’s outstanding winemakers and pioneers in the production of varietal table wines. In addition, it was Cyril who in 1958 created the wine that has so captured the heart of red wine drinkers around the world, the Hill of Grace. The cabernet franc and merlot are used as blending components of the Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon. The 1983 Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon won the Tucker Seabrook Trophy judged as the best Cabernet in all national wine shows. The semillon provides fruit for the Louis Eden Valley Semillon, named in tribute to vigneron Louis Henschke who tended the Hill of Grace vineyard for 40 years. The Cranes Chardonnay is named after Charles Crane and the Joseph Hill Gewürztraminer is named after Joseph Hill Thyer. The Eleanor’s Cottage Sauvignon Blanc is blended with Semillon and is named after Eleanor, the wife of George Crossman Thyer, who built their settlers cottage on the tributary of the North Para River, adjacent the sauvignon blanc vineyard.

The Henschke Eden Valley vineyard is located in the cooler part of the Mount Lofty Ranges, in the Barossa Range just east of the Barossa Valley, at an altitude of 500m and a rainfall of 700mm. The vines are planted on their own roots on a contour planting to conserve soil moisture and reduce erosion. They are effectively dry grown, although the soil moisture is monitored and in drier years drip irrigation is used to keep the vines physiologically active. Vines are planted on a spacing of 3.4m between rows and 2m between vines, and yield an average of 5 t/ha. There are a number of trellis types ranging from single wire to VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioned) and Scott Henry. There is ongoing research on canopy management and trellis style. A clonal research trial for semillon, including old and new clones, is being run and eutypa control trials on shiraz will help discover ways of improving the longevity of old vines.

The Eden Valley vineyard is on a range of well-drained duplex soils from sandy loam over gravel and bedrock with patches of clay to sandy loam over clay. Originally the ground was cultivated for weed control. Nowadays the vineyard has a permanent sod culture of early-maturing perennial rye and cocksfoot grasses in the row. A wheat straw mulch is used under the vines to retain soil moisture, build up organic matter, and inhibit weed growth. Prediction of disease pressure through an integrated pest management program results in minimal chemical input in the vineyard. Organic and biodynamic practices are being introduced.

- Mount Edelstone Vineyard:

Technical, geographical & other information:
. Vineyard location: Eden Valley wine region, 4km west of Henschke Cellars at Keyneton, in the Mt Lofty Ranges east of Barossa Valley, South Australia
. Varieties: Shiraz, on own roots, dry grown. Vines sourced from pre-phylloxera material from Joseph Gilbert's nursery; believed to originate from James Busby's selection
. Wines produced: Single-vineyard bottling since 1952
. Age: Planted in 1912 by Ronald Angas
. Average yield: 2.5 t/acre (6 t/ha)
. Soil: Deep sandy loam over gravelly medium-red clay, overlying laminated siltstone
. Trellis: Two Wire Vertical, Scott Henry
. Planting: Wide planting 3.7m x 3.7m giving 783 vines/ha. Rows are planted east-west; dry grown
. Treatments: Undervine mulching and permanent sward, incorporating organic and biodynamic practices
. Maintenance quality: Mass selection carried out over three growing seasons from 1986. Establishment of a nursery source block in 1989. Assessment of trellis systems and use of rootstock
. Rainfall: 600mm
. Altitude: 400m
. Latitude: 34° 32'
. Longitude: 139° 06'
. Aspect: Easterly
. Size: 16ha (40 acres)

The beautiful and historical name Mount Edelstone is a translation from the German Edelstein meaning gemstone. In 1839 Johann Menge, a German geologist, mineralogist and gardener explored and surveyed the regions around Adelaide in the new free colony of South Australia, on behalf of George Fife Angas and Colonel William Light. He travelled through the Barossa Range and named rivers and hills including Mount Edelstein, which with time was anglicised to Mount Edelstone.

This land was granted to George Fife Angas shortly afterwards, together with large tracts of land in the most fertile region along the North Para River in the Barossa Range. The land passed to his great-grandson Ronald Angas who in 1912 established a large orchard and vineyard on the eastern slope of Mount Edelstone near his homestead Hutton Vale.

The 16ha vineyard, situated in the Eden Valley wine region, was planted to shiraz, probably sourced from Joseph Gilbert at Pewsey Vale. The original pre-phylloxera material most likely originated from the James Busby selection, which was propagated by Samuel Smith of Yalumba in the 1850s. What is surprising about Mount Edelstone is that it was planted purely as a shiraz vineyard. Prue has found, however, 10 rogue vines of bastardo.

Cyril Henschke contracted the grapes from Colin Angas, the son of Ronald Angas, from the early 1950s. The first Mount Edelstone bottled as an individual vineyard wine was the 1952 vintage. It was simply labelled as Mount Edelstone Claret bottled by C A Henschke & Co, North Rhine Winery, Keyneton, South Australia. The back label read, "This wine is made from shiraz grapes grown at Mount Edelstone Vineyard, Keyneton." The 1956 vintage won First Prize in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. It literally stormed the national wine show scene and announced its formidable presence at the forefront of the pioneering days of Australian red wine. When Cyril purchased the vineyard from Colin Angas in 1974, Mount Edelstone was already well entrenched as one of Australia's greatest shiraz wines.

The vines are planted on their own roots, are dry grown and yield an average of 2.5 t/acre (6 t/ha). The vines are planted on a wide spacing of 3.7m between vines and 3.7m between rows. The original one-metre trellis consists of two wires which carry two to three arched canes with a bud number of around 50 to 60. The foliage is allowed to hang down to form a drooping canopy, which helps to reduce shoot vigour.

In 1989 Prue trialled 10 rows of a Scott Henry trellis in which the shoots from the top wire canes are trained upwards between foliage wires and the shoots from the bottom wire canes are trained downwards between foliage wires. The effect of this solar panel system is to provide a significant increase in exposure of the leaves and fruit to the sun, thereby increasing fruitfulness and promoting earlier ripening and a greater increase in colour and flavour of the fruit and improved tannin maturity. This trellis has had such a positive impact on the quality of the wine that over three quarter of the vineyard has now been converted to it. Other trellis trials were also being evaluated including VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioned), high single wire, Smart Dyson and ballerina.

The Mount Edelstone vineyard is underlain entirely by laminated siltstones of the Tapley Hill Formation. The soils are fine sandy loams over deep gravelly medium red clays. The soil layer goes to a significant depth before reaching the bedrock. The pale mottled clay/clay loam layer indicates that a large degree of leaching and periodic waterlogging has occurred. Rocks beneath the red clay soils are schists of Cambrian age. These are metamorphosed mineral-rich sediments, originally deposited in a shallow sea, then deeply buried, and finally pushed back up to the surface where they weathered to produce a thick soil layer.

Originally the ground was cultivated for weed control. Nowadays the vineyard has a permanent sod culture of early-maturing perennial rye grass in the row. The vines are no longer dodged and a mulch of wheat straw is used under the vines to retain soil moisture, build up organic matter, and inhibit weed growth. Prediction of disease pressure through an integrated pest management program results in minimal chemical input in the vineyard. The vineyard is currently run incorporating organic and biodynamic practices, including composted grape marc, cow pit peat, 500 and 501 preparations, milk whey and bicarbonate sprays.

The grapes are picked mid to late April at a sugar level of around 24°Bé. There is always a remarkable acid/Ph balance from this vineyard. The anthocyanins in the berries are very high which indicates the superior quality of the Mount Edelstone shiraz.

Prue began a clonal selection program in 1986 to identify the best vines for propagation. With her assistant Uschi Linssen she tagged and mapped selected vines in the vineyard for viticultural features during the growing season using criteria such as even budburst, absence of the wood-rotting fungus eutypa, bunch numbers per shoot, the evenness of flowering and veraison, virus, and maturity and colour figures in the fruit. It was painstaking work, which also included a similar selection of the Hill of Grace vineyard.

Cuttings from the selected vines were planted in the nursery. The research work is ongoing and is a scientific program that will take up to 30 years to work through. Cuttings have been taken from the nursery vines, propagated, and planted as needed in the vineyard to replace old vines that have expired from dying arm, Eutypa lata.

- Hill of Grace Vineyard:

Technical, geographical & other information:
. Vineyard location: Eden Valley wine region, 4km north-west of Henschke Cellars at Keyneton, in the Mt Lofty Ranges east of Barossa. Valley, South Australia
. Varieties: Shiraz (on own roots) - vines originate from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early European settlers; riesling, semillon, mataro
. Wines produced: Shiraz - single vineyard bottling since 1958
. Age: Oldest vines planted in 1860s by Nicolaus Stanitzki
. Average yield: 2.5 t/ha (1 t/acre)
. Soil: Alluvial, sandy loam over clay
. Trellis: Two wire vertical, single wire at 70cm, Scott Henry
. Planting: Wide planting 3.1m x 3.4m. Most are planted east-west, some north-south; dry grown
. Treatments: Undervine mulching and permanent sward, incorporating organic and biodynamic practices
. Maintenance quality: Mass selection carried out over three growing seasons from 1986. Establishment of a nursery source block in 1989
. Rainfall: 520mm
. Altitude: 400m
. Latitude: 34° 30'
. Longitude: 139° 07'
. Aspect: North through west to south
. Size: 8ha (4ha shiraz)

Hill of Grace is surely one of the most evocative phrases in the world of wine. It is a translation from the German ‘Gnadenberg’, a region in Silesia, and the name given to the lovely Lutheran Church across the road. For Henschke, it is the name of both the vineyard and the wine that has so beguiled lovers of red wine. The 8ha single vineyard on the original 32ha block sits at an altitude of 400m and has an average rainfall of 520mm. It is situated near the family property at Parrot Hill, an isolated spot that was once an active village.

The land was originally granted to Charles Flaxman by land grant in 1842 for £1 per acre. It was then sold by George Fife Angas to Nicolaus Stanitzki in 1873, for £480. Following his death the property was transferred in 1879 to his son Carl August Stanitzki, who later sold the vineyard and moved from the district. Paul Gotthard Henschke purchased the vineyard in 1891. After his death, his sons and executors Paul Alfred and Julius Philip Henschke arranged the transfer to Julius Philip, who had married Ida Maria Magdalena Stanitzki, a granddaughter of Nicolaus Stanitzki. On Julius Philip’s death in 1928, the property transferred to his wife. In 1951 the property was purchased by Louis Edmund Henschke, a son of Paul Alfred Henschke and brother of Cyril, who worked the vineyard and property for nearly 40 years. The Henschke family continue to maintain the tradition and develop new ways of preserving the precious genetic heritage for future generations.

As with the winery, each generation has added to the vineyard, which is now home to eight blocks of shiraz of various ages, as well as semillon, riesling and mataro (mourvèdre). The whites are used in Eden Valley varietals while the mataro, with its rich colour and complex flavour, often complements blends such as Henry’s Seven.

The Grandfathers, as the oldest block is called, was planted by Nicolaus Stanitzki around the 1860s. These vines are planted on their own roots from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early settlers. The sturdy, gnarled vines are dry grown and yield an average of 2.5t/ha (1t/acre). The shiraz vines are planted on a wide spacing of 3.1m between vines and 3.4m between rows. The 1m trellis consists of two wires which carry two or three arched canes with a bud number of around 40 to 50. The foliage is allowed to hang down to form a drooping canopy, which helps to reduce shoot vigour. The more vigorous blocks have been converted to VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) and Scott Henry to open up the canopy.

The mataro is grown as bush vines, which suits the upright growth of this variety. The whites are planted closer together than the reds, down to 2.2m, and have the regular 3.4m between rows to suit the old tractor widths.

Originally the ground was cultivated and the vines were ‘dodged off’ in spring and ‘hilled on’ again in early summer for weed control. Nowadays, under the guidance of viticulturist Prue Henschke, the vineyard has a permanent sod culture of early-maturing perennial rye grass in the row, which is mowed down low. The vines are no longer dodged and a mulch of wheat straw is used under the vines to retain soil moisture, build up organic matter, and inhibit weed growth. Prediction of disease pressure through an integrated pest management program is a strong part of Henschke’s viticultural management, resulting in minimal chemical input in the vineyard. The vineyard is currently run incorporating organic and biodynamic practices. Yield estimates are carried out in early summer, and cropping levels are kept in check by bunch thinning at veraison. The grapes are picked early to mid-April at a sugar level of around 24°Bé. There is always a good acid/pH balance from this vineyard. The anthocyanins (colour pigments) in the berries are also very high, which perhaps offers a clue to the very high quality of the Hill of Grace shiraz.

While much work is being done in the vineyard with biodynamics and organincs, Prue is also focused on protecting the vines for future generations, and in 1986 began a clonal selection program to identify the best vines to propagate, and where else to look but to the Grandfathers block which she has often referred to as old soldiers.

Prue and her assistant Uschi (Ursula Linssen), who had studied together at Geisenheim, literally walked the rows together, earmarking potential vines. They took a scientific approach, using criteria such as even budburst and the absence of Eutypa, a wood-rotting fungus that wasn’t the problem they had imagined. Then they moved through to flowering to look at bunch numbers per shoot, the evenness of flowering and veraison, virus, and finally the fruit itself. What was the bunch composition and bunch structure? How was the balance of sugar, pH and acid? And all this was after they had already eliminated vines they didn’t deem suitable. It was painstaking work, slotted in with the Mount Edelstone selection and the first of four selections planned extending over at least a 20-year program.

- Lenswood Vineyard:

Technical, geographical & other information:
. Vineyard location: Lenswood - central Adelaide Hills. 25km east of Adelaide. 50km south-west of Henschke Cellars at Keyneton. Situated at the top high north end of the apple-growing valley, extending 1-2km north and south from Lenswood
. Varieties: Chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc
. Age: Planted between 1982 and 1987
. Average yield: 6 t/ha (2.5 t/acre)
. Soil: Well-drained sandy loam over medium clay interspersed with shale fragments overlying a shale bedrock
. Trellis: Vertical Shoot Positioned, Scott Henry
. Planting: 1m-1.5m x 2.5m
. Treatments: Permanent sward, incorporating organic and biodynamic practices
. Rainfall: 1134mm
. Altitude: 550m
. Latitude: 34° 54'
. Longitude: 138° 50'
. Aspect: North, east, south and west
. Size: 13ha (32 acres)

In 1981 Stephen and Prue purchased a property in the Adelaide Hills region, selecting a site in Lenswood covered in apple, cherry and pear trees, with beautiful steep slopes and stunning views toward the older vine country. The future vineyard, 15km north-east of Mount Lofty (700m), was positioned right at the top end of a long, picturesque valley of apple orchards and natural forests at an altitude of 550m, with an annual rainfall of 1134mm.

Stephen and Prue moved into this peaceful apple kingdom with the intention of converting the land to vineyard, until nature took over, and after two years of operating it as an orchard, they could only stand by in 1983 as the Ash Wednesday bushfires engulfed the property in flames. A D9 Caterpillar removed the blackened tree stumps in preparation for the vineyard in which pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, merlot and cabernet sauvignon were planted over the 13ha property.

Each of these varieties, apart from the cabernet sauvignon that struggles to get to 22°Bé every year, has achieved excellence because of the flavours and build-up of extract on the palate. Even though the pinot noir vines were still young the wild berry fruit characters were evident on the voluptuous mouthfeel, and now have become more intense and complex with mature, more settled vines. The chardonnay goes against the tide with its fine citrus, honeysuckle to gooseberry characters and great palate structure and length without the dominance of oak. The riesling is the biggest surprise as its fruit character has moved from the citrus/lime spectrum of Eden Valley into the more fragrant citrus blossom/passionfruit flavours. Riesling has always been a beautiful food wine, but the Lenswood riesling has an added fragrance, minerality and racy acidity that makes it a very pleasant wine to drink by itself. The merlot has a rich, fleshy structure with spicy violet and blue fruit characters and fine-grained tannins, and is a variety proving to be one of the flagship wine styles for Adelaide Hills vineyards.

Stephen and Prue initiated several trials looking at different clones of pinot noir (there are nine: MV6, D5V12, G8V3, G8V7, Pommard and the famous Bernard clones of 114, 115, 777 and 667, recently imported from the Burgundy area); chardonnay (seven clones: I10V1, I10V5, Antav 84, 277 and the Burgundian Bernard clones, B95, B96, B76); and merlot (six: D3V14, D3V5, D3V7, 6R, 8R, Q45-14). They have also adopted VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioned) trellising throughout the vineyard.

With high rainfall, steep slopes (30-40%) and upright curtain-foliage training used to manage the Lenswood vineyard, Prue has had to pioneer new techniques and investigate the use of different machinery. She has adopted the ‘minimum soil disturbance’ attitude and uses pasture grasses as a green sward between the rows. The Lenswood vineyard is on a range of well drained soils consisting of sandy loam over medium clay interspersed with shale fragments overlying a shale bedrock.

Running this vineyard cannot be done from a textbook and it takes a lot of clever thinking and fine adjustment to make it work. It will always cost more to produce grapes from steeper vineyards in wetter regions but the benefit of producing some of the best quality pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling and merlot in the country is well worth the investment.


- Canopy Management: In the late 1970s Dr Richard Smart was developing theories about the role of the canopy on the colour and quality of red grapes. Those theories, Prue believed, could well be applied to the Henschke vineyards. While they were already producing high quality red wines, she believed they could do better. Initially they looked at establishing better trellis systems, which in turn led to experimenting with a cooler climate and the subsequent purchase of the property at Lenswood. There, Prue believed, less stressful photosynthesis during summer would allow flavour compounds to develop. This turned out to be right, and Henschke started winning awards and media recognition immediately.
Soil Management

A number of key issues must be considered in relation to soil management, such as soil structure, moisture holding capacity, and nutrient availability. There is also a need to consider such things as how to maintain good soil porosity, the bacterial activity in the soil that leads to fertility, and the effects of pH. The water holding capacity of a soil is important in dry-grown vineyards and is improved by increased organic matter and mulching. Thirty-six percent of Henschke vineyards are dry grown and the soil management techniques now used lead to the production of very high quality fruit.

Many different techniques of soil management exist. Henschke has moved completely away from mechanical disturbance and now uses permanent sward. Mulching with wheat straw to avoid herbicide treatment under the vine is used in most of the vineyards, and allows more organic matter to be incorporated into the soil and preserves soil moisture. Earthworms also open up the soil and introduce nutrients and soil ameliorants such as lime. Mulching helps to maintain the fertility of the soil without the addition of nitrogen fertilisers, which often favour the development of disease, especially botryus. A good balance of nutrients in the top 60 to 70 centimetres of soil is important for the production of premium grapes. The vineyards are currently run incorporating organic and biodynamic practices, including biodynamic compost being produced from all the winery by-products, such as grape marc, stalks and waste water, cow pit peat and 500 and 501 preparations.

- The Effect of Old Vines: Australia's oldest vineyards, dating back to the 1860s, carry an aura of wonder about them and the gnarled and free-form shapes are rarely seen in other plant species of such age. For overseas industry personnel visiting these vineyards, it is a viticultural mecca.

Soon after the establishment of the Australian vineyards, phylloxera was introduced to France where it slowly exterminated most of the vineyards and beyond into Germany and Italy. Rootlings brought into Australia from the French nursery Richter led to a similar plight in the Victorian vineyards. But sand is phylloxera's enemy as it does not allow the formation of soil cracks or damp 'super-highways' between the root systems that these sap-sucking insects love. This is why vineyards such as Chateau Tahbilk's small 1860 shiraz vineyard can still exist and why, for slightly different reasons, the Vieilles Vignes of Bollinger survived the much later devastation by phylloxera in the Ay and Bouzy regions of Champagne.

Hugh Johnson makes a tiny but fascinating reference to the pre-phylloxera vines, the "Survivors of the Plague" in his latest book, The Story of Wine. He mentions that wines made from these vines "have a certain quality and depth of flavour that sets them apart…the view of Bollinger's president is that champagne from ungrafted vines (which produce small quantities of highly concentrated juice) is too 'fat' for modern tastes!" Undoubtedly this 'fatness' is the part of the texture - the extract or intensity of flavour on the palate - that we identify in the Australian red wines from the century-old vines.

South Australia has had very different infestations affecting the survival of its old vineyards.

Firstly, the fungal disease, eutypa, which is spread through large pruning wounds, causes dieback in the arms of older vines and the vine slowly rots away and becomes unproductive.

The second limiting factor is related to economic pressures forcing growers to rip out ageing vines. These low-yielding vineyards are being replaced with a more efficient trellis design particularly suited to mechanisation and better irrigation systems. The quality rating of these new vineyards depends on the vine balance, which is something many old vineyards have realised over the years. They adjust to the nature of the not-so-benevolent rainfall during the growing season and to the natural nutrient status of the soils.

The third factor is one we hope well not have to witness again - the mid 1980s vine-pull scheme - where growers were paid to rip out their vines. This mostly involved those ancient red vineyards that had developed a harmonious relationship with nature, but not with a winery purchase price.

One feature links these old centenarians - low vigour. It is a very important feature brought on by a multiplicity of factors:

. shallow soil depth
. low level of soil nutrients
. trellis style
. cultural techniques, possibly with inadvertent root pruning
. low summer rainfall (non-irrigated)

As a consequence of low vigour comes low bud numbers and open canopies, low yields and often smaller berry size. With the lower yields comes earlier ripening and full maturity - particularly important in cooler years - and a development of extract or intensity of flavour on the palate.

Their root systems are formed in the first 10 years and from then on, the roots die and re-grow using the starch reserves built up in early winter for new growth in spring. It can almost be guaranteed that within a 10-year period extremes of drought and floods will be experienced, and the root systems will develop accordingly. The wood development appears to reach a maximum butt circumference at around 30 to 40 years. After this the live wood dies off and the butts of the oldest vines have very little live tissue. Of a 20-centimetre diameter butt, about a quarter will still be alive. Practices such as machine harvesting which requires flexibility in the vine trunk are out of contention.

The cultural techniques are similar between these vineyards. They are trained either as bush vines or on a low single- or two-wire trellis and left to survive as best they can through dry summers with minimal weed and irrigation management.

Investigation into the difference between wines from young vines and wines from old vines allow one to appraise the differences in complexity and texture. Complexity is derived from the various combinations of primary fruit flavours - developed fruit flavours and flavours contributed through the winemaking and barrel-ageing. One should look at the wines analytically to distinguish the components of complexity. Flavour descriptors are useful in looking at the fruit characters, which are split into primary fruit characters and developed fruit characters.

- Organic/Biodynamics: Stephen and Prue Henschke, fifth-generation winemaking family, are working toward sustainability in their vineyards using organic and biodynamic principles. By working with the local natural environment and nature’s cycles, they are finding more natural alternatives to the energy-intensive fertilisers and pesticides to protect and enrich the land. Since 1990, the decade of Landcare, Prue has used the benefits of mulching and compost to preserve soil moisture and in building the health of soils.

Balance has also been restored to Henschke land with the replanting of original grasslands, woodlands and forests to 30% of the family’s total landholdings. In the vineyards, Prue’s work includes an inspiring ‘nursery program’ on Mount Edelstone and Hill of Grace commenced in 1986 to identify the best of the centenarian vines, with descendants planted to preserve this precious genetic heritage.

In 2009, the vineyards achieved organic precertification status, incorporating biodynamic principles. The Henschkes have always been passionate about their roles in protecting the land, the environment and the future for the next generation - particularly their children, Johann, Justine and Andreas who will be the next custodians of Henschke vineyards.

The grapevine is an extraordinary plant. The winegrape cultivars we recognise today reflect a wide range of climate adaptability - grenache loves the heat and pinot noir produces its exotic flavours in a cooler temperate climate. To produce the vivid varietal flavours, the vines need healthy soils to survive by buffering them against the extremes of summer.

Along with the minerals and water making up the physical part of the soil, organic matter and soil microbial activity are major players in the health of the soil and both are at risk from excessive cultivation and high levels of fertiliser. The inclusion of biodynamic principles in our vineyard management gives a twofold benefit - replacement of inorganic fertilisers with compost and the end of using herbicides. It incorporates the cyclic nature of our farm - from the manure of the cows and the eggshells from the chooks, to the recycling of our grape marc to produce compost, which in turn produces great wine.

The influence of the moon cycles has always been a familiar feature - Hill of Grace is always picked just before the full moon of Easter and Mount Edelstone a week or so after. Throw in nectar providing local native plants to help with pest and disease control and we have a garden of earthly delights - a food chain that replaces pest control. We have taken this one step further with our involvement in Dr Harpinder Sandhu’s Ecosystem Services project with the CSIRO, using local native plants to provide nectar for beneficial insects.

Our organics/biodynamics brochure takes you through the steps of making the biodynamic preparations, putting them out in the vineyard at the best times of the season, usually when the humidity builds up on a descending moon roughly on a monthly basis. Application of compost is on a three-yearly cycle and the covering of Triticale wheat straw mulch holds in the soil moisture and helps soil microbes, worms and fungi work the compost into the soil.

We see the nourishing of our land as a tool to connect between healthy soils and healthy people. We want to tread as lightly as possible on our land, land that is our home, our peace, our nourishment, pleasure and future.

- Phylloxera - the invisible hitchhiker: South Australia has the oldest commercial grapevines in the world. That is because they have never had phylloxera (fil-ox-era) - an insect that attacks and kills grapevines.

By far the biggest risk for spreading phylloxera is humans. Phylloxera can be carried in soil, grapes, leaves or anything that picks up any of these. People can carry the insect on their footwear, clothing or vehicles.

Don't spread phylloxera!: Phylloxera can be present in a vineyard for several years before any symptoms are seen. This is why it is very important not to walk or drive in any vineyards without permission - especially if you have previously been in or near another vineyard interstate. You could accidentally pick up a phylloxera insect from one vineyard and transfer it to another one.


1 comentario:

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