Barossa's Table: Henschke VIP Tasting and Tour

6/07/2011 09:47:00 PM

After our lovely lunch at Gill Radford's, we zoomed off to the next destination: Henschke Cellars.  You may remember that I used a Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2007 in my entry post for the Barossa's Table competition, and I was super-excited to visit the winery!  It's quite far from the towns of the Barossa, but has no shortage of visitors - dedicated lovers of the wine who treat a visit to the winery like a wine-pilgrimage.

Henschke Cellars
Henschke Road
Keyneton SA 5252

We were hosted by the lovely and very knowledgeable Melanie Keynes, the Cellar Door manager.  She said they'd read my blog post and were really chuffed!  (Wine-dork moment: I impressed the Henschke people - YAY!)

We started with a drive to the Hill of Grace vineyard, just 5 minutes from the winery itself.  This area was once an active village, but is now a very quiet, isolated spot.
The old post office opposite the vineyard
And ta-dah! Here is the vineyard.  Before entering, we had to wash our shoes in a special bucket, to prevent the spread of Phylloxera, a small but deadly grapevine pest.  This pest can apparently be spread by dirt on shoes from interstate, so it's really important to keep your shoes clean before entering a SA vineyard!

The old church - the original wines produced here were made for the congregation back in the 1800's.

View of the post office from the vineyard

The Grandfathers block is the oldest block, planted around 1860.  These big old, gnarled vines are still producing fruit - the famous Hill of Grace grapes!  We also got to taste a couple, lucky!

The gnarly old vines

Hill of Grace grapes!!

A damaged leaf

I can't believe these old, dry looking vines are still growing fruit!

Grapes again
As part of succession planning, some of the Hill of Grace vines have been grafted onto newer root stock - being only 19 years old, these grapes are too young to be included in the Hill of Grace wines, but too good to be declassified, so they've been used in the very limited release Hill of Roses wine.

Following our visit to the vineyard, we headed back to the winery for a tour...


Bottling area

Unlike many other wineries, Henschke produce and bottle their wine on-site.

Those manholes in the floor open through to large underground tanks, which have to be personally cleaned on the inside by well-trained (and very brave!) staff. 

This is where the magic happens: every single red wine produced by Henschke goes through these big concrete fermenters.

So if you've ever had a Henschke red (and if you haven't, why not???), you'll know they've come through here!  During production, they're filled with bubbling red liquid.

And then we headed downstairs for the VIP Tasting!  I must admit I let out a little gasp of excitement when I saw special tasting set up just for us!  How wonderful!

Here are the wines we tried:

You can't see it in the picture, but the last wine on the list was the 2006 Hill of Grace!  It was great to have such a knowledgeable and passionate host to guide us through tasting all the different wines, explaining not only the wines, but the stories behind them.  It really brought the Henschke story to life for me.

The whites...

The reds...

Vintage bottles

The difference between the Hill of Roses and Hill of Grace was amazing, especially considering that they're made from the same grapes, just grown from different root stock.  Melanie described the Hill of Roses as the "young adolescent" of the two, with a more upfront, exuberant flavour.  I picked up really strong herbaceous notes, like rosemary and mint, which immediately made me think: "roast lamb".  Mmm... I think a bottle of the Hill of Roses with a traditional roast lamb dinner would be a perfect celebration meal!  The Hill of Grace, on the other hand, was a lot more mellow and complex.  There were definitely herbaceous notes, but it was much milder than the Roses, and had different flavours coming through on each sip - just lovely.

Sarah and Sandra enjoyed the VIP Tasting and Tour of the Hill of Grace vineyard as guests of Henschke winery.  This was part of the prize for winning the Barossa's Table competition, with thanks to Melanie Keynes for a wonderful afternoon!

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  1. My lordee! So I'm assuming your were tipsy for most of this trip? LOL

    Love the grape shots. We should go on a winery tour soon!

  2. Lol yup, there was a LOT of wine over the trip!

    Ooh, great idea to do a winery tour! Let's make it happen :)

    xox Sarah

  3. Can't believe you got to try the Hill of Grace, amazing. I can't wait to open the '99 bottle I got given.



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