The Henschke Family

As one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries, Henschke has been making wine for over 150 years in the Barossa’s Eden Valley. Established in 1868, Henschke is resolute in its desire for complete integration of vineyard and winery, through six generations of family grapegrowing and winemaking tradition in the Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills.



Johann Christian Henschke

The Henschke family has been making wine since Johann Christian Henschke planted a small vineyard in the Barossa’s Eden Valley in the early 1860s, with the first recorded sale of Henschke wine in 1868. Having immigrated from Kutschlau, Silesia to South Australia in 1841, Johann Christian first settled in the Adelaide Hills before purchasing 70 acres in the Barossa Valley village of Krondorf. Fifteen years later he purchased a further 80 acres in the North Rhine district (later renamed Keyneton), which became the home of Henschke. Initially, the first-generation winemaker, a stonemason and wheelwright by trade, made wines for his family and friends, however as demand inevitably grew, wines were made for sale. The early vintages from the property’s small vineyard produced 300 gallons per year.



Paul Gotthard Henschke

Barossa-born Paul Gotthard Henschke took over the running of the family’s Keyneton property in 1873, which had been transferred from father to son for the sum of five shillings the previous year. He continued the farming and winemaking traditions of his father Johann Christian and when more vineyards were planted, Henschke’s wine production gradually increased by 1,600 gallons per year. In 1891, he purchased land with a small planting of vines near the Gnadenberg Church, which was to become known as Hill of Grace Vineyard. Gotthard was the organist for the Gnadenberg Church for many years and in 1888 he formed the first known brass band in the district, the Henschke Family Brass Band.



Paul Alfred Henschke

Paul Alfred Henschke, known by his family as Alf, became the custodian of the Henschke family’s farm and winery in 1914. In 1907 he married Johanne Ida Selma Stanitzki, the granddaughter of Nicolaus Stanitzki who planted the original vines at Hill of Grace Vineyard circa 1860. Alfred extended the original stone cellar at Henschke, installing brick and cement fermentation vats and underground tanks. Until this time farming had been the main pursuit, but as the demand for fortified wine increased, focus was given to increasing production and expanding the vineyard acreage. He continued to make dry red and dry white 'hock', sold to local customers by the barrel or stone jar, which in the Barossa were known as ‘krugs’.



Cyril Alfred Henschke

Fourth-generation winemaker Cyril Henschke, the youngest of 12 children, took over the family winery in 1950. While his father’s wine market had been largely fortifieds, Cyril began to focus on the production of fine dry table wines as the market improved. With the help of his brother Louis, he added fermentation cellars to the winery and later underground tunnels for storing bottled wine. By the mid-1950s, Cyril was recognised as a pioneer of single-varietal and single-vineyard wines, with his greatest legacy being the creation of Mount Edelstone and Hill of Grace; two shiraz wines from the Eden Valley that have become an integral part of Australia’s fine wine history. Cyril was the first Australian winemaker to be awarded a Churchill Fellowship and in 1970 undertook his study tour throughout winemaking regions of Germany, California and South Africa. He was also a founding member of Barons of the Barossa in 1975.



Prue and Stephen Henschke

Fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Carl Henschke showed an interest in science from an early age. He went on to complete a Bachelor of Science at the University of Adelaide in 1973, where he met his wife Prue, who was studying botany and zoology. After completing their degrees, they travelled to Geisenheim, Germany to undertake two years of study and work experience and upon return to Australia, they continued their studies in wine science to catch up on changes in the Australian wine industry. During this time, Stephen worked with his father, while Prue embarked on a career as a technical research assistant at nearby Roseworthy College.

Stephen introduced many winemaking techniques acquired in Germany and upgraded the winery’s refrigeration systems to improve white wine quality. He also began incorporating barrel fermentation, as well as favouring the use of French oak. In the early 1980s, Stephen and Prue purchased an apple orchard at Lenswood in the cool-climate Adelaide Hills to put their techniques from Germany into practice.

Today, Stephen and Prue are recognised around the world for their exceptional quality wines, innovation and sustainability in the vineyard.


The Future Custodians

The sixth generation, Johann, Justine and Andreas Henschke, are all actively involved in continuing on the family winemaking tradition. Together, they bring a wealth of knowledge from winemaking to viticulture, marketing, engineering and project management. They are mindful of their role as custodians of the Henschke vineyards and their need to nurture them for future generations.

As the sixth-generation Henschke winemaker, Johann graduated with a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Adelaide in 2005. He has extensive experience in his field, undertaking vintages in Australia, New Zealand, Italy and the USA. In 2012, Johann completed a Master of Viticulture and Oenology in Geisenheim, Germany.

Andreas has over 10 years' experience working as a mechanical engineer and is qualified as a Chartered Professional Engineer of the Institution of Engineers of Australia. With a keen interest in emerging water technologies, he provides expert advice to support Henschke’s commitment to sustainable water management in its vineyards.

Justine holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing and Management), as well as several wine qualifications including the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and Spirits. After working in marketing and public relations in London, New York and Sydney, Justine joined Henschke in 2015 and manages all brand activity, including marketing, public relations, digital media, direct sales and events.