Eden Valley Vineyard History
The rise of table wine
Cyril Henschke purchased the Eden Valley property in 1966, and established a large planting of predominantly riesling and shiraz at a time when riesling was scarce and bonuses were being paid by the large wineries. Today the riesling is the source of the Julius Eden Valley Riesling, named in honour of Stephen's great-uncle Julius Henschke, a highly acclaimed artist and sculptor. The Louis Semillon is a tribute to Stephen’s uncle Louis, vigneron of Hill of Grace vineyard from 1950s, while the shiraz is used in the Keyneton Euphonium blend and since 2015 also selected for The Wheelwright Shiraz, named as a tribute to Stephen’s ancestor and founder of Henschke, Johann Christian Henschke.
Eden Valley Vineyard – The Story
The Henschke Gardens of Eden
Pioneer Charles Crane, after whom the village of Craneford is named, established the region on a tributary at the source of the North Para River near Eden Valley. In 1877 George Crossman Thyer purchased a nearby property at the top of the range overlooking the valley, from a tract of land granted to George Fife Angas in 1856. This land was in the fertile area called Flaxmans Valley, named by German geologist Johann Menge in 1839. After Thyer’s death it was transferred in 1912 to Joseph Hill Thyer, who pioneered the first vines on this property.
Cyril Henschke purchased the property from his son Kenneth Crossman Thyer, and established a large planting of riesling smillon, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon at a time when riesling was scarce and bonuses were being paid by the large wineries. Today the riesling is the source of the Julius Eden Valley Riesling, named in honour of Stephen’s great-uncle Julius Henschke, a highly acclaimed artist and sculptor. The Louis Semillon is a tribute to Stephen’s uncle Louis, vigneron of Hill of Grace vineyard from 1950s, while the shiraz is used in the Keyneton Euphonium blend. This wine is named after the early English pioneer Joseph Keynes who settled at Keyneton in 1842 and after whom the village was named. Since 2015 the Old Vine shiraz has been selected for The Wheelwright Shiraz, named as a tribute to Stephen’s ancestor and founder of Henschke, Johann Christian Henschke.
Other plantings subsequently took place including cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. The cabernet sauvignon is the source of the Cyril Henschke, the wine made to honour the fourth generation winemaker of the Henschke family and one of Australia’s outstanding winemakers and pioneers in the production of single vineyard and varietal table wines. The 1983 Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon won the Tucker Seabrook Trophy judged as the best Cabernet in all national wine shows. The Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon is highly acclaimed and is rated as Outstanding on the Langton’s Classification.
Warm days, cool nights - producing crisp, flavoursome wines
The Henschke Eden Valley vineyard is located in the cooler part of the Mount Lofty Ranges, in the Eden Valley Wine Region just east of the Barossa Valley, at an altitude of 500m and a rainfall of 700mm. The vines are planted on their own roots on a contour planting to conserve soil moisture and reduce erosion. They are effectively dry grown, although the soil moisture is monitored and in drier years drip irrigation is used to keep the vines physiologically active. Vines are planted on a spacing of 3.4m between rows and 2m between vines, and yield an average of 5 t/ha. There are a number of trellis types ranging from two wire vertical wire to VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioned) and Scott Henry. There is ongoing research on canopy management and trellis style. A clonal research trial for semillon, including old and new clones, is established and eutypa control trials on shiraz will help discover ways of improving the longevity of old vines.
The semillon provides fruit for the Louis Eden Valley Semillon, named in tribute to vigneron Louis Henschke who tended the Hill of Grace vineyard for 40 years. The Joseph Hill Gewürztraminer is named after Joseph Hill Thyer. Pioneer George Crossman Thyer and his wife Eleanor built their settlers cottage on the tributary of the North Para River, adjacent to the vineyard.
The Eden Valley vineyard is on a range of well-drained duplex soils from sandy loam over gravel and bedrock with patches of clay to sandy loam over clay. Originally the ground was cultivated for weed control. Nowadays the vineyard has a permanent sod culture of early-maturing perennial and native grasses in the row. Organic compost and a wheat straw mulch is used under the vines to retain soil moisture, build up organic matter, and inhibit weed growth. Prediction of disease pressure through an integrated pest management program results in minimal chemical input in the vineyard. Organic and biodynamic practices have been introduced.