Tag Archives: Henschke

Worthy of writing about!

18 Feb

Bucatini pasta with good extra virgin olive oil cooked to infuse with garlic, mixed with chilli, parsley and anchovies

Glass of 2005 Henschke Hill of Grace

Fricken awesome

Cellar work at last

11 Feb

Summing up how the next few weeks should pan out, my winemaker boss Paul told me today I will be focused in the bottom cellar during vintage, looking after all the white tanks and all that other general stuff. Probably be yeast queen again too maybe. I don’t mind smelling like a bakery at work so if they gave me that role occasionally I wouldn’t complain! The other boys will be up in the top cellar where all the red ferments get going. I told them as long as I get to dig out (with a shovel over the top of the concrete fermenters) a few of the red ferments I will be happy.

I had my first real day doing proper work in the cellar to commence all that work: doing four wine rackings* of white juice and keeping the chilling on so it doesn’t commence fermenting prior to the weekend (Paul would like to have Sunday free before the craziness starts!)…fair enough!
racking: taking the clear liquid off the solids that have settled down the bottom

I knocked that on the head before lunch with the help of Stuart then got some more barrels sulphured, cleaned up my stations, cleaned some open fermenters, took grapes off trucks with my amazingly improved forklifting skills, then in the lab at the end of the day we were chatting with Prue & Stephen and he brought a ’62 Hill of Grace up to check it wasn’t corked before taking it to a tasting tonight, leaving us a glassful to take a whiff off and sample. Held up surprisingly well!

Is she a drug dealer?

10 Feb

I thought that getting up at 6:30 in the morning when I was over in Italy to go for a walk before work was bad…here at Henschke I am starting at 6am…that’s right, you heard me: START WORK at 6am! Hence I wake up at 5:05am (that five minutes makes a difference, I swear!), dress myself, try and look presentable, have breakfast, grab my pre-made lunch from the night before, and head out the door by 5:30am, making it to work on time. Talk about keen to work!

This week has been warm and humid with rain starting to come in. It makes for hard work in the afternoon and we’re usually all wrecked by the late afternoon from the mugginess draining your energy. We’re working through getting barrels sulphured and stacked, I have been sulphuring up the Hill of Grace, the Hill of Roses, the Mt Edelstone, the Tappa’s Pass and the Cyril. They’re names of some of the red wines belonging to Henschke here. I was so proud of myself yesterday because I managed to manipulate the barrels racks to get one I wanted several rows in from the side with the forklift which is bloody tricky, but clearly do-able if someone like me who doubts themselves can do it!
Today I was lucky to be inside so topped up the barrels with wine from one barrel, so that was nice to be by myself and have some alone time in the back shed they call ‘Air Force One’. After lunch crazy Harry found me and got me to simulate the life of a drug dealer by measuring accurately 100g of a suspicious white powder into small plastic bags for the vineyard crew. Sounds dodgy hey, but really I’m just being a smart-arse and I was getting measured bags of potassium metabisulphite (PMS) sulphur powder for the vineyard to be able to throw over the fruit bins easily. I did about 160 bags going through 16kg of sulphur. That stuff is potent!

Welcome to the Barossa

2 Feb
I arrived here not even a week after landing back in the country after completing a vintage in Bolgheri, Italy. What am I here for? Henschke winery up in Keyneton. I’ve got a vintage placement here while there’s work to be done so will make the most of the opportunity and work as hard as I can. Considering the ‘work’ I did in Italy was so ridiculously easy in terms of workload and hours, I am really looking forward to getting down to some dirty work, earning some money, learning heaps from these guys and just having a ball!

It is only my second day working and my hands are already stained a dark colour from working with barrels…Lordy Lord, help me!
The work crew in the winery are a lovely bunch. There is the head boss and figure head Stephen and Prue Henschke who are so small, so cute, and incredibly nice people. Well-spoken and really interesting. Then I’d go onto my winemaking boss Paul Hampton who is really cool, funny, full of information, youngish and just great, so am really looking forward to working with him when he’s around. The assistant winemaker is Josh, a young, tall guy who’s really cruisy but really passionate. His family have a winery which he will take over one day so he’s in a great place to practice! There’s also the jovial Jack, the baby of the Henschke team, at the young 21 years old. He’s studying the same Wine Science degree that I did and seems older than his actual years say but is easy to work with and gives good direction. There are a whole bunch more of people of course but the main character would be Harry. My housemate warned me about Harry saying his language could be foul (if every second word turns out to be ‘bugger’ or ‘shit’ or ‘bloody hell’ then that’s what she was referring to), and he will tell you like it is. Turns out, I really like Harry so far! He explains things clearly and in a quintessentially male manner he knows everything about alloys, pumps, and stuff…most of the time I get the gist of what he is on about and other times I don’t…hey, I can’t be a full man here, can I!?
The winery is old, creaky, and quaint to say the least! So different from all the ubiquitous modern wineries around so it’s a great change and funny at times to see an ancient pump whirling around that’s been there since the 60’s or something. The floor where we empty/fill barrels is a purply colour at this stage because of the wine-tainted spit we cover it with. At least here they are pedantic about quality control and we taste every barrel that we come across. Thank god! There is Triple J radio playing in the background, not so loud so that you can hear the shouts for when the tank is almost full from across the other side of the winery. Sweat drips down your forehead as you careen the forklift in to pick up four barrels on the side – not a normal situation but Harry says you can fit more barrels into a warehouse this way. The sweat is because you’re dealing with quite the expensive product here, especially when one barrel can contain 225 litres of wine, you times that by how many bottles you’d get at 750mL, then by the retail price of each bottle…so if you drop it….shit.
At least my second day finished in true winemaking fashion: we all went upstairs to the lab where there were samples of the 2009 Henschke Hill of Grace from about 20 barrels. They would eventually make up the final blend and each was interesting with slightly different flavours, tannins, texture, length, depending on the cooper, the barrel (American or French), the forest the oak is from, the vineyards of course, whether the vines were 150 years old or 20 years old, the type of soil, the aspect of the vineyard…so many variables so it was really great to do with all of us there.
I also gave them my box of seven wines from Shadowfax winery that Matt Harrop had given me. Initially my housemate Monica who works in production told me that they don’t drink alcohol during work hours so no wine will be drunk she thought apart from beers on a Friday afternoon. But after chatting with winemaker Paul he told me once it’s vintage and we’re working long hours, we’ll have dinner here us six at the winery and they’ll usually go down to the ‘tunnel’ (the old wine storage area like the caves of Portugal) and select a mystery wine for everyone so we’ll get to drink some interesting stuff there he said. Yessssssssss!