If there’s one name synonymous with South Australian wine, it’s Henschke. The Henschke family have been making wine here for 148 years, and have vineyards in Eden Valley in the Barossa and the Adelaide Hills.

While best known for their shiraz, Henschke make pretty awesome pinot, too. It’s why them came in at number four on the Pinot Palooza National Top 10 list in 2017.

We grabbed daughter Justine (who has been at almost all our events, even Game of Rhones) to ask her about all things. You can keep up with the family on Facebook and Instagram, too.

Tell us something cool about your wines?
We’ve been making our Giles pinot for over 30 years. My brothers and I used to foot stomp the pinot noir grapes as kids, we were pretty enthusiastic back then! Now we rest a wooden plank across the fermenter to stand on and hand plunge (pigeage) the pinot ferments three times a day, so still fairly rustic, but it works for us. Our parents planted our vineyard at Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills back in the early ’80s – it consistently produces top quality fruit to make three wines from pinot noir: Giles, The Alan Reserve and our Johanne Ida Selma Blanc de Noir MD sparkling. The sparkling consists of up to 16 vintages of pinot noir. It’s a real hit at Pinot Palooza – I only wish we had more of it! Prue (Mum) is our viticulturist and manages the Lenswood vineyard using biodynamic principles to maintain soil and vine health – our mantra is to live within our landscape rather than on top of it.

What style do you think characterises the pinot of your region?
Pinot noir is the quiet obsession of Stephen Henschke (Dad), who feels the Adelaide Hills offers undiscovered treasures of this wine. High quality pinot noir requires a cool climate (like Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills) and continentality – a larger shift between day and night temperatures. Our Lenswood vineyard slopes offer not only beautiful views towards the older vine country, but also provide enough sunshine to ripen the grapes, together with cooler temperatures to retain natural acidity. We are focused on finding flavours early and creating a wine with lovely structural tannins, finesse on the palate and the ability to age. Our pinot noir vines are over 30 years old now – some of the oldest in the region. The inclusion of biodynamic principles in the vineyard improves and maintains both soil and vine health.

Tell us three things we need to know about your region?
1. Our Lenswood vineyard lies at 550m altitude (one of the highest points in the Adelaide Hills) and was traditionally an apple, pear and cherry growing region, showing it had great potential for pinot noir!
2. German immigrants arrived in the Adelaide Hills and planted vines at Hahndorf and Lobethal around 1842. The resurgence of viticulture in the Adelaide Hills came about in the 1970s, when the Verralls at Glenara established vineyards in 1971, and Petuluma in the late 1970s. Other producers such as Knappstein, Weaver and Henschke entered shortly after, followed by Cootes, Seppelt, Ashton Hills, Kuitpo Vineyards, Gumeracha Vineyards and more.
3. The Adelaide Hills wine region is a 70km swathe of the South Mount Lofty Ranges stretching from Mount Pleasant in the north, to Mount Compass in the South. Our cellar door lies just out of this region in the Barossa’s Eden Valley.

What’s the one thing we must do in your region?
Visit Sheree Sullivan at Udder Delights in Hahndof! Our families met over wine and cheese in 2014 and we even held an ‘Udderly Delightful’ Adelaide Hills themed masterclass back in July.

If not you, who else should people try?
Go and check out our good friends at Golding Wines.

Your pinots are best for…
The dinner table. The progression from white to red needs a pinot in the middle.

Your pinots are best paired with…
Peking duck pancakes, confit duck and pork belly.

What song should we listen to when driving to the winery?

What song should we listen to when driving away and onto the next one?

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