Henschke’s Hill of Grace Vineyard / Photo by Dragan Radocaj
Few New World wineries can claim such long, unbroken winemaking lineage as Henschke. For more than 150 years, the Henschke family has been tending vines and making wine in South Australia’s Eden Valley. The thoughtful, tender caretakers of several plots of centenarian vines, including one of the world’s most famous single vineyards, Hill of Grace, the Henschkes have played an outsized role in the success of Australian Shiraz worldwide and in the significance of old vines and single-site expression.
The winery is a truly family-run affair. Fifth-generation Stephen Henschke and his son Johann make the wines, together with Winemaker Paul Hampton; Stephen’s wife, Prue, helms viticulture; their daughter Justine is in charge of marketing and public relations; and their son Andreas is an engineer and Henschke ambassador.
“Prue and Stephen [Henschke] have shaped their family’s destiny by years of hard work, enlightened science, love of their land, sustainable farming and imaginative winemaking,” says Andrew Caillard, MW, cofounder of Langton’s.
Stephen Henschke is a direct descendent of the winery’s founder, Johann Christian Henschke, who fled religious persecution in Silesia (modern-day Poland and Germany) to settle in South Australia in 1841, during the earliest days of its colonization. In 1862, Johann purchased land in what is now known as Keyneton, in the Eden Valley, and released his first vintage of wine in 1868.
The famed Hill of Grace vineyard was planted in the same decade by an ancestor, Nicolaus Stanitzki, on a plot of rich, alluvial soil in a shallow, fertile valley. The vineyard sits opposite a historic Lutheran church named Gnadenberg after a small village in Silesia, which means “Hill of Grace.” Stephen’s father, Cyril, made the first single-vineyard Shiraz from the vineyard in 1958.