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Nicolaus Stanitski, a Henschke ancestor, originally planted the Hill of Grace vineyard during the 1860s above the Barossa Valley. During the 1950s Cyril Henschke took his family concern back to wine and established the Hill of Grace label in 1956. The Shiraz vines – many now over 140 years old – are among the world's oldest genetic Shiraz plant material. It is remarkable that the vineyard remained intact considering the economic uncertainty and the social conditions of the time. The vineyard is planted on red clay soils overlain by sandy and silty loams interspersed with gravels.
There are several blocks including Grandfather’s Post Office Blocks One and Two, Young which is made up of the younger selected material located near the vines of the old post office, and the Church Block, House Block and Windmill Block. Vintage takes place during mid to late April, each parcel vinified separately to maximise blending options. The Hill of Grace style has developed along Grange lines, but by a circuitous route. Vinification takes place in open headed down fermenters with regular pumping over. Towards dryness the wine is drained and pressed. Partial barrel fermentation in a combination of new American and French oak follows to integrate oak and create complexity. The wine is then allowed to mature in the same oak for a period of about 18 months before bottling and further maturation.
HILL OF GRACE
Location: Eden Valley wine region, 4 km north-west of Henschke Cellars at Keyneton, in the Barossa Range, South Australia.
Varieties: Shiraz (on own roots). Vines originate from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early European settlers. Riesling and Semillon.
Wines Produced: Shiraz – individual vineyard bottling since 1958.
Age: Oldest vines planted in 1860s.
Average Yield: 5 tonnes/hectare (2 tonnes/acre)
Soil: Alluvial, sandy loam over clay.
Trellis: 2 wire vertical/single wire at 70 centimetres.
Planting: Wide planting – 3.1 metres x 3.7 metres. Most are planted east-west, some north-south. Dry grown.
Treatments: Tilled and dodged for many years without herbicide. Only copper and sulphur used for foliage sprays. Now mulched and grassed down. Fungus problems are minimal. Vineyard can be considered 'organic'.
Maintenance Quality: Mass selection carried out over two growing seasons. Establishment of a mother source block.
Rainfall: 520 mm
Altitude: 400 metres
Year Vintage Quality Optimum Drinking
1984 Exceptional 20+ years
1985 Exceptional 15+ years
1986 Exceptional 20+ years
1987 Very Good 15+ years
1988 Exceptional 15+ years
1989 Great 15+ years
1990 Exceptional 20+ years
1991 Excellent 20+ years
1992 Excellent 20+ years
1993 Great 15+ years
1994 Exceptional 20+ years
1995 Excellent 20+ years
1996 Exceptional 25+ years
1997 Very Good 15+ years
1998 Exceptional 20+ years
1999 Excellent 20+ years
2000 Not Produced
2001 Excellent 20+ years
2002 Exceptional 25+ years
2003 Great 15+ years
2004 Excellent 20+ years
2005 Exceptional 20+ years
2006 Exceptional 20+ years
2007 Great 20+ years
Vintage 1985 proved too hot and dry for most vineyards within the environs of Eden and Barossa Valleys. Severely reduced crops for most South Australian wineries were further decimated by the ravages of a very wet autumn. Henschke's Eden Valley fruit was saved largely by it's protective Shangrila topography, a unique mesoclime which yields the most precious harvests while maintaining the excellence of Australia's finest single vineyard wine.
Hill of Grace is one of Australia's original vineyards. Over 160 years ago, Johann Christian Henschke came from Silesia to settle and farm in Eden Valley. Vines were planted around the 1860s in rich alluvial soils on a shallow fertile valley just northwest of the current Henschke wineworks. By the time third generation Paul Alfred Henschke took over the reins in 1914, the famous Hill of Grace Shiraz vines were more than fifty years old. Hill of Grace remains a unique delineated single historic vineyard, just opposite a beautiful old Lutheran Church, built of local field stone, which was euphoniously named Gnadenberg, which of course, means Hill of Grace.