Why Visit Henschke?
- You’re looking for one of the most captivating wine experiences in Barossa Valley
- You love supporting family businesses and admire multi-generational ones
- You want to taste the best of what Barossa has to offer
- You’re curious about the secret to six generations of success
The History of Henschke
Henschke is an incredible winery which has achieved winemaking success in the Barossa Valley for over 150 years across six generations. The legacy began with Johann Christian Henschke who emigrated from Silesia to Australia in 1803. His journey was a sad one as he lost his wife and six year old son on the 98 day sea voyage to South Australia. Upon arrival in Australia, Joseph settled in Lobethal near Adelaide where he later remarried and fathered eight more children. In 1847, Johann became naturalized and was able to purchase land. He and his family settled in Kondorf Village in Barossa and years later purchased land in the North Rhine district of the Barossa Ranges. On this property, Johann and his son developed a self-sustaining farm and planted a small vineyard. He then built a small cellar to produce the first vintages of Reisling and Shiraz, selling the first bottles in 1868.
When Johann died in 1873, his third son from his second marriage, Paul Gotthard Henschke, took over the winery and vineyard management. More vineyards were planted and wine production gradually increased. In 1891, Paul purchased a small vineyard near the Gnadenberg Church which would eventually become today’s prized Hill of Grace vineyard. When Paul Gottard died in 1914, his brother, Paul Alfred, took over the Henchke winery and vineyards. Paul Alfred eventually married the daughter of the man who planted the original Shiraz vines on the Hill of Grace vineyard. Together they had eleven children, the youngest of which was the next to take over the family business. Under Paul Gotthard, the cellar was expanded with brick and concrete fermentation vats and underground storage tanks. Fortified wines were popular at this time and Henschke was meeting that demand. However, Paul continued to make dry red wines and German white wines also.
Cyril Alfred Henschke was the next to take the reins of the winery. From a young age Cyril had a curious, inquisitive mind suitable for a winemaker. He left high school at 15 years old to gain further winemaking experience working at Hardy’s Siegersdorf Winery. Though this was during the Great Depression when winemaking was taking a backseat to more important farming, Cyril stayed the course and expanded upon the knowledge gained growing up at his family’s winery. Though his dad’s wine era was focused on fortified wines, Cyril believed the region was producing fruit perfect for dry table wines. He began experimenting with production, though initially he had difficulty finding a market for such wines.
In 1979, Stephen Carl Henschke took over running the winery. As Cyril’s youngest son, Stephen demonstrated an interest in science and winemaking from a young age. He gained extensive academic and practical winemaking experience at Adelaide University, in Hunter Valley, at the Geisenheim Institute of Viticulture and Wine Technology in West Germany, and at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. Stephen was excited to implement the knowledge and techniques he had learned over the years at Henschke. He introduced winemaking techniques learned in Germany and upgraded to more flexible refrigeration to improve the quality of the white wines. Stephen also began implementing barrel fermentation within the red winemaking process.
Stephen and his wife, Prue, who also studied at the Geisenheim Institute of Viticulture and Wine Technology in West Germany, eventually purchased land in cool-climate Adelaide Hills. This Lenswood property was used to pioneer viticultural and soil management techniques they learned in Germany, such as vertical shoot positioning to improve fruit exposure. In 1988 and 1989, Stephen and Prue traveled to Burgundy and then Bordeaux to widen their perspectives on viticulture and winemaking. Today, Stephen and Prue have forged their own style of winemaking while continuing the Henschke family heritage along with the help of their children Johann, Justine and Andreas – the sixth generation of the Henschke family.
Tastings & Experiences
The Henschke Cellar Door is housed in the original 1860s structure built by Johann Christian Henschke who was a stonemason by trade. The original dry stone walls of the Grain Barn have been preserved and hint at the family’s depth of history in Barossa. The interior of the cellar door is sleek and modern, yet with a touch of family charm. Photos of the six generations of the Henschke family greet you as you arrive. You can event visit a small museum-like room where Henschke’s awards and prized wines are housed showcasing the family’s incredible history. However, I must say the wine is the true star at the Henschke cellar door. This was by far my favorite winery in Barossa because the wines are truly incredible!
Even better, there is no tasting fee to try a majority of Henschke’s wines. We opted for the free option, but there is an elevated tasting experience where you can taste their premium tier wines for a tasting fee.
Henschke also offers a VIP Tour & Tasting Experience which includes a visit to the renowned Hill of Grace vineyard, a tour of the historic working winery, and an exclusive tasting in the private tasting room. Call or email Henchke for pricing and bookings.
Henschke wines are awesome! We also enjoy some of Grant Burge wines as well. So much history in Australian wine!
I haven’t tried Grant Burge wines yet. Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll have to seek them out. Definitely missing Australian wine country.