Stephen HenschkeHenschke Wines
Stephen Henschke 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.
Fifth-generation Stephen Carl Henschke took over running the winery in 1979. Born in 1950, he was Cyril’s younger son and the middle child. Surprisingly, throughout all these years, the generational shift has not always been by way of the oldest son, but has been taken on by the one who showed the most interest.
Stephen completed a Bachelor of Science Degree at Adelaide University in 1973, gained winemaking experience at Rothbury Estate in the Hunter Valley, and in 1975 with his wife Prue, spent two years at the Geisenheim Institute of Viticulture and Wine Technology in West Germany. During their stay in Germany he undertook work experience in two wineries, Winzerverein Oberrotweil in Baden and the Institut für Rebenzüchtung und Rebenveredlung in Geisenheim.
On their return to Australia they enrolled in Wine Science at Riverina College of Advanced Education (now Charles Sturt University) in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, in order to catch up with the changes in the Australian wine industry. During this time Stephen worked with his father at the winery in Keyneton while Prue embarked on a career as a technical research officer at the nearby Roseworthy College.
|Hill of Grace Vineyards|
In the early 1980s Stephen began incorporating barrel fermentation as a component of his red fermentation techniques. Because of the poor quality of the oak at the time he introduced an oak timber purchase program, seasoning it in the Barossa Valley and using the local cooper, A P John, to make the barrels in order to obtain better quality mature oak flavours. In addition, more flexible refrigeration was installed in the winery in order to improve quality of the white wines. He maintained traditional methods with his red wines, which focused on fruit and tannin maturity, submerged cap open fermentation, minimal racking, no fining and minimal filtration.
In 1988 and 1989 Stephen and Prue worked vintages in Burgundy and Bordeaux respectively, in order to research the grass roots level of viticulture and winemaking in those regions. With a widened perspective they have forged their own styles, with much of the success of Henschke reds attributed to the vintage and fruit quality in the vineyards.
Stephen and Prue, with their three children Johann, Justine and Andreas, quietly continue a proud heritage and the philosophy for outstanding quality. They are mindful of the fact that more than 140 years of grapegrowing and winemaking, spanning six generations, has been an integral part of Australian quality wine history.
The highlights of Stephen's career include the following awards and nominations:
· Induction into Family Business Australia (SA) Hall of Fame 2011 (with Prue)
· The Age/Sydney Morning Herald Good Wine Guide 2011 Winery of the Year (with Prue)
· 2006 Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine Winemaker of the Year (with Prue)
· Induction into the 2005 USA Wine & Spirit Magazine Hall of Fame
· 1998 Volvo/WINEMagazine Winemaker of the Year nominee (with Prue)
· Advance Australia Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Wine Industry in 1995 (with Prue)
· Joint International Red WInemaker of the Year 1994/95 (with Prue)