EDEN VALLEY – 2023
While the winter of 2022 saw average rainfall, the latter part of the year brought cooler and above average wet weather. This led to poor flower set and encouraged the spread of downy mildew. A hail flurry on 23 January caused some damage to the growing green berries, which became sites for botrytis infections later during ripening. Shoot thinning to open up the canopy during the growing season helped to overcome disease pressure. The cool lead up to vintage resulted in a slow ripening period, allowing for great flavour development and acid retention. Rainfall during the harvest period did encourage the growth of botrytis, but careful hand selection during picking delivered good quality fruit. Despite the challenges of the season, yields were average to above average, with larger berry size compensating for the poor set. The 2023 vintage will be remembered for excellent quality wines with riesling, semillon and shiraz the standout varieties. Overall, the whites show intensely perfumed aromatics with a pristine acid line and outstanding flavour concentration, while the reds are deep in colour with good structure, mature tannins and excellent length.
Eden Valley – 2022
The winter of 2021 brought good rainfall to refill soil profiles and the cool, slow start to the growing season resulted in budburst occurring two weeks later than average. An extreme hail event on 28 October decimated the young growth across our vineyards in Keyneton and significant crop potential was lost. Late flowering (late November/early December) avoided the cold and windy conditions, resulting in good fruit set, albeit smaller yields. A burst of summer heat without extremes supported berry development and balanced canopy growth. Welcome rain in late January kicked off veraison and ripening, providing a mild and dry finish to summer. 2022 was a late vintage with harvest dates 1-2 weeks later than the historical average. The resulting wines have great elegance with excellent aromatic and flavour intensity, bright acidity and wonderful ageing potential.
Eden Valley – 2021
Following good (average) winter rains, budburst was even and buds showed good fruitfulness. Frost damage was significant in mid-October and early November, reducing the flowerheads in the later-bursting varieties. Otherwise spring was cloudy with good rains pre-flowering, followed by short bursts of hot weather in late November. Most flowering was early, occurring from mid-November onwards with riesling showing the most consistent fruit set, however the later flowering varieties were impacted by heat at the end of November and showed some coulure/shatter in the bunches. Strong winds on 5 December 2020 damaged the canopies but the slightly battered crop remained disease free. January was dry with a burst of heat prior to a perfectly timed rain event at veraison in early February. The lead up to vintage was cool, cloudy and mostly dry with the white varieties showing balanced acidities and good aromatics. After our coolest summer for 19 years, an Indian Summer followed on through Easter providing near-ideal conditions for ripening of red varieties, achieving sensational colours, flavours and tannin maturity. Overall the wines show great balance and potential for ageing.
Eden Valley – 2020
The 2020 vintage will be remembered for excellent quality wines from the Eden Valley, albeit a meagre production due to reduced yields caused by a number of poor conditions at flowering and the extremely dry winter, spring and summer of 2019/20. The 2019 winter and spring resulted in the driest start to the growing season ever, in line with 1939 and 1961. Growth in early spring was weaker due to a hotter than average October. November was a challenging month with frosty, wet and windy conditions during flowering. Bunch size was normal, although with few berries having set, it resulted in very open clusters. Significant heatwaves from mid-December to the end of January reduced shoot growth and berry size, however at the end of the month around 40mm of rain fell, alleviating the stress just before veraison, followed by a cool ripening period in February with just three days over 30°C. Vintage was early, beginning in late February and finishing by early April. The fruit ripened in near-perfect conditions, resulting in optimal and excellent wine quality (colour, aromatics, flavours and tannin maturity). Bunches were loose and pristine, while the yield remained extremely low, at about 10% of average. The 2020 white wines are finely structured, balanced and fragrant. The red wines are intense in colour, exceptionally fragrant, spicy and well-structured.
Eden Valley – 2019
A mild and dry winter, followed by a dry and windy spring, saw frost events in September and November that disrupted budburst and young shoot growth. A hailstorm in late November impacted the fresh young shoots carrying the crop, with shiraz the most affected. Warmer than average temperatures in January and February, including the hottest summer’s day on record, led to the advancement of maturity and early onset of vintage. Warm weather in late summer maintained low disease pressure and small berry size, providing optimal ripening conditions. Despite miniscule yields, 2019 was a high-quality vintage with beautiful expressions of varietal character, good structure and excellent flavour intensity.
The 2019 vintage will be remembered as a challenging season where regenerative viticulture and organic and biodynamic practices were vital to nurturing the health of the Henschke vineyards through an exceptionally warm and dry year.
Eden Valley – 2018
A moderately wet winter combined with average spring conditions meant that vines grew well in the mild weather. Ideal flowering conditions in late spring/early summer led to the potential for near-average yields. Late December became warm and dry and assured for healthy canopies with low disease pressure. The summer months of January and February were typically hot and dry but extreme heat periods were shorter than in recent memory, characterised instead by well above-average overnight temperatures. The old-vine vineyards coped well with the warm nights, their deep roots able to withstand the warming and drying effect on the topsoil, maturing the balanced crops as autumn approached. March and April provided the light and warmth to the Eden Valley which led to full and balanced maturity being achieved across all grape varieties. With warm sunny days and cool nights, the dry autumn guaranteed that pristinely healthy grapes arrived in the fermenters.
All in all, the 2018 vintage will be considered a standout of this decade. Shiraz was certainly one of the highlights of the season, fittingly so in the year we celebrated our 150th anniversary of family winemaking.
Eden Valley – 2017
A later start to picking and a mild period of ripening finished with the last grapes being picked in mid-May. A wet 2016 winter gave us a good foundation for our predominantly dry-grown vines on their own roots, and a cool, wet and fiercely windy spring followed, with a slightly higher spring rainfall than the Barossa Valley, which delayed flowering, though conditions during set meant that yields were at average levels. A mild summer with regular rainfall events followed, which allowed the grapes to reach full physiological maturity. The significant rainfall events largely missed our area and therefore we harvested the majority of our grapes in healthy condition. As always, careful hand picking in the vineyard and sorting of grapes as they were processed made sure that quality was not compromised. 2017 will be characterised by beautiful anise and black pepper, an indicator of our slightly cooler conditions.
Eden Valley – 2016
The 2016 vintage began with well below-average winter rainfall, followed by a warm and dry spring, which enhanced flowering and set to give average to above-average yield potential. Low disease pressure was maintained by one of the hottest Decembers on record, though temperatures cooled down in the New Year and rainfall around veraison in late January brought relief to the ancient, dry-grown vines. This was followed by further rainfall in early March which eased the stress on all varieties. The fruit matured with an earlier harvest, as predicted due to an early Easter. Open, light and airy vine canopies allowed for good flavour, sugar and colour and mature tannins to develop at harvest, which was overall characterised by average yields but very high quality.
Eden Valley – 2015
A traditionally wet winter, mild spring and excellent fruit set provided a great start to the 2015 vintage after four vintages with below average yields. Spring was dry and led into a very mild, dry summer with no disease, resulting in fruit with higher natural acidity, and incredible flavour and colour concentration. January started with dry, hot and windy weather however by the end of the first week, relief came with 60-75mm of rain and a record-breaking coolest January in 11 years. The rain was perfectly timed for the old dry-grown vineyards, and the mild weather that followed from February through to April provided for a fairytale vintage. Most of our white varieties and some Eden Valley shiraz were in before Easter, moving on to the rest of our Eden Valley red varieties soon after, and eventually winding down at the end of April as the rain and cooler temperatures set in. The 2015 vintage has provided stunning signature riesling and elegant shiraz that show extraordinary flavour, purity of fruit and acid balance with the potential for excellent ageing.
Eden Valley – 2014
The 2014 vintage began with the winery coming alive to the fragrant aromas of fermentation. But what a year we’ve had! This year, the moon cycles put Easter quite late in the season, so the expectation of a late harvest prevailed…until South Australia experienced its record number of heat days over 40C in January, culminating in the worst bushfire in Eden Valley in living memory. This taste of hell ended in the wettest February in 44 years – all in 48 hours, when we received between 115 and 150mm of rain. Fortunately, Eden Valley and the Adelaide Hills were still in veraison, which allowed the quenching rain to rebalance the fruit, particularly in the older dry-grown vineyards. The yields appeared depressingly minuscule, due to a severe black frost in spring and cold windy weather during flowering in early December. Early picks of semillon and shiraz after the heat wave were in response to vine stress. The change to mild autumnal weather in late February after the rains allowed for a focus on other early vintage varieties, riesling in Eden Valley and pinot noir at Lenswood. Mild weather with cold dewy mornings and windy days prevailed. Disease pressure increased as March became colder and wetter, which seemed to change to a winter pattern after the equinox. It was indeed a late vintage and also resulted in one of our longest vintages. The picking of Eden Valley cabernet and Lenswood merlot brought the season to a close at the beginning of May, where skilled vineyard teams played a critical role by hand selecting and picking the best quality fruit during the onset of rain and cold wintery weather.
In summary, a challenging season with good quality but very low yields.
Eden Valley – 2013
The lead-up to the 2013 vintage saw an early onset of summer, with occasional thunderstorms and only four heat spikes, into the 40s, over summer. A cooler than average January followed by a warm February, brought the predicted early vintage even further forward.
Even after the dry-fecta of winter/spring/summer the word from the winery floor was that it would be another great Eden Valley riesling year, followed up with some great old-vine shiraz. Fortunately, a desperately needed 16mm of rain came, the first for nearly six months, at the beginning of March to help the dry-grown vines struggle through to full maturity.
The roller-coaster weather ride continued through March with almost weekly cycles of hot and cold. Cool drizzly weather at the end of March nearly brought the harvest to a halt, but with a return to the Indian summer conditions in early April, it gave us a chance to get the late varieties in Eden Valley over the line, predominantly cabernet sauvignon and merlot, returning us to another great vintage of average yields and fabulous rock solid quality.
Eden Valley – 2012
The La Niña pattern weakened during the lead-up to the 2012 vintage, resulting in below average winter and spring rainfall. July was the driest since the serious drought of 2003. Spring was mild with few frost events; however, flowering and fruit set were affected by wet drizzly weather in mid to late November, leading to only average yields. Summer was also surprisingly mild with below average temperatures from southerlies off the ocean in January and only two short heat events, at New Year and at the end of February. This provided for a slow ripening period, which allowed for intense fruit flavours, high colour figures, high acidity and mature tannins. Rainfall leading up to vintage was above average, with the heaviest rainfall events in late January and late February, which tied in well with the natural physiology of the dry-grown vines; ie, keeping leaves active at veraison and ripening. Temperatures were mild during harvest though March, warming to an Indian summer in April, allowing for a long window of picking and amazing maturities with the red varieties. Standout varieties are riesling, showing delightful aromatics, purity, intensity, excellent acidity and length of flavour, and shiraz, showing great purity and spice, colour intensity and strikingly mature tannins. Yields were average with exceptional overall quality.
Eden Valley – 2011
The lead-up to the 2011 vintage was very different to past seasons. A strong La Niña event dominated the weather pattern, bringing a wetter than average winter and the coldest for 13 years. The drought was broken across the country with floods in the eastern states and a return to high river levels and full dams. The wettest spring was recorded, with the coldest average spring temperatures since 2005. Vine growth was extremely vigorous due to high soil moisture levels and regular thunderstorm activity. The wettest December day ever was recorded on December 7. Summer was generally mild, with one rainfall event mid-January and three days in the 40s at the end of January. The spin-off from Cyclone Yasi and monsoonal activity in the north and west brought more unseasonal weather across the southern regions of the country. Weather conditions encouraged the spread of powdery mildew and downy mildew, with the highest levels of disease experienced since 1992/93. There was also a return of plague locusts through the region, causing damage in the more isolated vineyards. Veraison began in mid-February, heralding a late beginning to the harvest. Thunderstorm activity continued through February with mild temperatures causing a nervous anticipation to the impending vintage. Rain, high humidity and mild temperatures continued through March, making it one of the wettest since 1974. This affected the ripening but allowed for early flavour development and maintained acidity. The humid, wet conditions encouraged the growth of botrytis, making hand-selected fruit essential. Despite the difficult conditions, the flavours in the Eden Valley whites, in particular riesling, were incredible.
Eden Valley – 2010
The 2010 growing season was preceded by above average winter rainfall that built up moisture in the soil profile and provided water for the dams. Spring was mild with little frost damage and gave us an even budburst. The weather remained cold and wet through spring which held back growth until a two-week high 30s heat wave in November affected flowering and fruit set. Spring rains continued into early summer right through until mid-December, making it the wettest year since 2005. The vines responded to the heat and grew vigorously until early January, developing lush canopies, but bunch development suffered as a result. A roller-coaster-ride of heat spikes and cool changes continued through a warm summer with occasional thunderstorms. The vines continued to look very healthy and went through veraison a week earlier than in 2009. Lower yields coupled with the mild ripening period resulted in incredibly concentrated fruit. Vintage began a week earlier than last year, on February 8, and was in full swing by mid-February. The white vintage was all but finished a month later, with no signs of sunburn or drought-affected berries. The red harvest continued with deeply coloured, well-balanced grapes being picked during superb mild, dry conditions through to the third week of April. The signature varieties of Eden Valley, riesling and shiraz, once again produced exceptional quality with great acid balance.
Eden Valley – 2009
The 2009 vintage was preceded by another cold, drought winter, with 399mm rainfall in Eden Valley for the year (a good year would see 500mm). It was the coldest August since 1951. Spring had a few heat spikes up into the mid to high 30s, some frost damage in low-lying areas, but very little rain during September and October. In fact, it was the driest September for 30 years and the driest October on record. Staggered flowering resulted from cool weather which reduced the fruit set. Some varieties were also pruned back hard to just a few spurs to allow them to survive with no water. Rain arrived in mid-December with around 65mm recorded, making it the wettest month of the whole year. The cool southerlies continued through into the new year, reminiscent of 2005. December didn’t record any days over 32C. January tended warm to hot with a couple of heat spikes into the high 30s and low 40s. Late January brought a record six days over 40C, not seen since 1908, causing vine stress, exacerbated by drought conditions and empty dams, followed by another week of hot weather culminating in a 46C day on Black Saturday on February 7. Fortunately subsequent weather was mild and dry, with perfect ripening weather from March 1 moving into autumn mode. A strong change brought a general rain across the state with 10-20mm in early March, which helped with ripening and flavour development. The Indian summer in late March brought ripening forward with all the whites finished and in the winery by early April.
Eden Valley – 2008
The 2008 vintage in Eden Valley was preceded by an average rainfall and a mild and unusually frost- free spring with regular rainfall periods. Fine flowering weather meant good set despite the expectation that the previous drought year of 2007 would affect yields. The vines also showed surprisingly vigorous growth. A dry and hotter than average early summer caused smaller berry and bunch size. Although temperatures climbed to over 40C around New Year and in mid-February, the weather from mid-January through February was the coolest for 30 years, allowing amazing development of fruit colour, flavour and maturity. One of the earliest harvests on record, which began early February, produced exceptional whites, in particular riesling.
In early March South Australia suffered an unprecedented record heat wave of 15 days over 35C. The unexpected searing heat seemed never-ending and resulted in stressed vines, significant leaf drop, escalating sugar levels in the fruit and significant shrivel. A cool change followed, which brought relief; however it was too late for fruit still hanging, which had literally cooked on the vine. Selective early morning handpicking, leaving shrivelled fruit on the vines, gave the best quality, resulting in some amazing intensely coloured and flavoured reds, in particular shiraz.
It was an easy season to practise organic viticulture and a season that demanded biodynamics to keep the vines healthy.
Eden Valley – 2007
The 2007 vintage has shaped up to be another high quality year but with significantly reduced yields in Eden Valley and average yields in the Adelaide Hills. The highly publicised drought of 2006 has been reported as the worst ever. Certainly the rainfall at Eden Valley for the three months of winter at only 90mm compared to the average of 200mm was one of our driest.
Despite an early winter break, rainfall during winter and spring was the worst for years in the lead-up to flowering. There was significant spring frost damage in Eden Valley, with a yield loss of 20 to 25 per cent, compounded by the drought and lack of subsoil moisture with overall losses of up to 50 per cent expected.
Brief heat waves occurred during January; otherwise it was mild and dry. At the end of January a tropical air mass connected with a cold front to bring good rains to the agricultural areas of South Australia, with flooding up north. The 70mm rainfall fell steadily over four days, coinciding with veraison, which freshened up the vine canopy to assist with ripening the fruit for harvest. February has been recorded as the hottest for 100 years, bringing the already reduced crop to an earlier ripening phase.
The vintage began three to four weeks early, one of the earliest on record, remaining dry and mild allowing for good maturity. All the whites were picked by the end of March and the reds by the third week in April, a record early finish. In summary, a vintage with low yields but very good quality.
Eden Valley – 2006
The 2006 vintage shaped up as another high quality year but with only average
yields in Eden Valley and the Adelaide Hills. After a late break in mid-June last year, winter and spring rains were some of the best for years in the lead-up to flowering in early summer. Some varieties, such as riesling and shiraz, suffered more than others from poor set, leading to ‘hen and chicken’. While there was some damage in Eden Valley from frost, this had only a minor impact on the overall yield; however, yields in most varieties have shown to be down by 15-20%.
Although there was virtually no rain after Christmas, the summer was mild with southerly winds, reminiscent of 2002. The vines were vigorous and lush at first but slowly underwent mild stress during berry development, helping to keep the berry size small. Brief heat waves occurred in late January and mid-February but were early enough not to affect quality, with only minor sunburn on exposed fruit.
The early ripening of the whites led to an early vintage. Whites were nearly all picked by the end of March with very little red fruit harvested, an unusual situation. After a warmer than usual spell in late March, a significant and unseasonal torrential rainfall event of 50mm occurred on Sunday 26 March delaying harvest and causing concern with split and botrytis. With the weather fining up again, picking continued with shiraz from Hill of Grace, Mount Edelstone and Eden Valley and pinot noir from Lenswood. The quality was fine, floral wines and we look forward to seeing what wonderful wines will develop. Further rain and wintry weather after Easter delayed harvest of the late-ripening varieties such as merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon and promoted unwanted opportunistic fungal and botrytis development. With no warm or dry weather in sight, the last of the bedraggled Eden Valley cabernet and Lenswood merlot was picked, between showers, in early May.
Eden Valley – 2005
Vintage 2005 was early, warm, quick – fantastic quality with good yields – and exhausting.
Above average winter rains led into a beautiful spring, with some early November frosts but good flowering weather in late November and early December. Summer was wet and wild, with an amazing roller-coaster of weekly thunderstorms that helped maintain good subsoil moisture. Rains in January were followed by a dry February, and the dry weather continued right through the autumn. Warmer than usual autumnal weather caused an early, compact harvest of above average yields. The late Indian summer lasted into May, well after all the fruit was harvested with colour, flavour and maturity figures not seen since the 2002 vintage.
The quality of the 2005 vintage is sure to be ranked as one of the best on record, after 2002, with all varieties showing strongly. Once again the signature varieties for Eden Valley, ie, riesling and shiraz, performed brilliantly.
Eden Valley – 2004
The average winter rainfall this season was a welcome relief after 2003’s fourth-worst drought in history. The soil profile was filled at last, as were most growers’ dams. A relatively frost-free, wet, warm and thundery spring followed, which created a natural ‘greenhouse’ effect for the vines. They grew vigorously, flowered and in general set a large crop.December was the hottest for 10 years, however at the start of 2004 the weather became mild and windy, tempered by the cool southerlies off the ocean. The month of January was the coolest since 1992 and the vines thrived with virtually no heat stress.Since the start of February, traditionally the hottest month, everyone’s worst fears were realised, with searing heat causing sunburn and significant crop losses. New records were broken with South Australia experiencing its hottest day ever. Fortunately March returned the region to glorious sunny days and cold dewy nights, with a couple of minor rain events, allowing the fruit to ripen under perfect conditions.The vintage was almost as late as 2002. Where crop thinning was done, the season produced excellent wines with a seamless elegance.
Eden Valley – 2003
2003 was one of the worst droughts in history, with rainfall at only 70% of the previous year. This left the soil moisture profiles and dams lower than at the start of winter. Spring was frosty and windy, but not overly wet. The frosts in October were bad news for many, although the rains were at least strategic, which resulted in better fruit set than last year. The hot, dry and windy weather during summer has stressed the vines severely, which has resulted in smaller berries and a reduced crop. This season has often been likened to 1983, which is obviously remembered more for the horrors of Ash Wednesday and the Barossa flood than the drought.
The vines looked surprisingly good for the dry season, however the crops were light, except for riesling. The ancient dry-grown vines groaned as they searched deep with their old gnarled roots for any faint sniff of moisture. Even those growers who had been able to use some water couldn’t reverse the drought. Growers were talking about a crop reduction of up to 30%, but it was far worse. Then just as the vines were succumbing to the hot, dry conditions, the heavens opened. Not just a sprinkle, but serious rain of around 75mm over 24 hours, enough to split the grapes and cause even more grief for the long-suffering grower. The country turned green overnight and the split grapes shrivelled up. In the final wash-up the damage wasn’t that bad, although the old dry-grown shiraz suffered the worst, leaving virtually nothing on the vines. Mount Edelstone was one example. The vineyard was half-picked at 5 tonnes, where in a normal year we would get 80 tonnes!
This year must surely go down on record as being one of our hottest, driest and windiest summers leading to a smaller vintage of potentially very good quality. The small crop was a blessing in disguise, too, with the impending grape and wine glut looming closer. Timing of the harvest was similar to 2001, due to the heat and lack of subsoil moisture. Another vintage for the record books!
Eden Valley – 2002
The year 2002 goes down as being the coolest, windiest ‘non-summer’ on record, following on from our hottest summer on record in 2001. It was preceded by a wet winter and a spring that was cold, wet and windy – like winter really. The drizzly cold weather affected the flowering and caused poor fruit set, commonly known as ‘hen and chicken’, leading to very little fruit. In particular riesling and shiraz, Eden Valley signature varieties, were the worst affected with crop reductions leaving us with less than 20% in some varieties. In addition the season was 2-3 weeks late due to the unseasonable cold weather. With the smaller crop level, the balance of sugar, flavour and natural acidity in the fruit were excellent. Despite the pitiful crop, 2002 was one of our most exceptional vintages ever, helped by the warm dry Indian summer autumn period, providing sensational colours, flavours and ageing potential.
Eden Valley – 2001
The season began with good winter and spring rains, although there were some isolated black frost pockets in October. Good set at flowering continued on to one of our hottest summers on record. Occasional timely thunderstorms arrived to maintain the humidity with a few millimetres of wonderful rain. Vintage began two to three weeks early but the heat had the potential to reduce flavours and produce high pHs and frighteningly low acids. With the arrival of milder autumnal weather came a natural rebalancing, providing only average yields but excellent whites and exceptional reds.
Eden Valley – 2000
The 2000 vintage was small and early. Another drought winter, frost at the end of October, poor flower development in spring and the unseasonal cool temperatures in late October/early November led to low yields. This was compounded by searing summer temperatures and a large amount of rain at the end of February – 100mm of rain over 24 hours courtesy of a tropical cyclone up north – which caused splitting of fruit, mould infections and subsequent shrivel and raisining. Overall, the whites were delicate with good flavour intensity with the reds being of good quality.
Eden Valley – 1999
The latter part of spring led into one of the hottest summers on record, with virtually no rain. The drought conditions resulted in smaller berry size producing spicy, dark intense reds. Tropical cyclones Elaine and Vance brought unseasonal rains in mid March, causing widespread botrytis problems requiring careful handpicking. 1999 proved to be another challenging vintage for Eden Valley although the final quality results made it worthwhile.
The weather conditions during the 1999 vintage, in the cool climate of the Eden Valley area, allowed for the natural development of noble rot. The botrytis riesling was picked in mid May at 46% sugar. The resultant wine has a natural residual sweetness of 21%, and intense complex varietal bouquet and flavour.
Eden Valley – 1998
The preceding winter was unusually dry, with frosty nights and clear days. The rain instead came in spring, and the luxuriantly growing vines benefited from the greenhouse effect. The indicators were of a hot dry summer, although only a serious burst of heat was experienced in mid January and again at the end of February; otherwise it was a mild summer, which had a significant delaying effect on the ripening process. An early onset of autumn caused a late harvest, with average yields, good to exceptional quality and intense flavour in the grapes.
Eden Valley – 1997
A wet winter with average rainfall. A mild, dry spring leading to excellent growth, good set and vigour. Late September spring frosts caused significant damage with losses of up to 30%. One of the hottest summers on record with the hottest two-week period in February recorded since 1910. Despite rain during summer causing some splitting and mildew, it was a godsend to the old dry-grown vines beginning to feel the lack of water. A mild finish to the season ensured excellent ripening conditions and accumulation of colour and flavour.