Paul and Penny Henschke purchased the predominantly Pinot Noir Greenhill Vineyard in 2009 from their Italian neighbours of 20 years. The property, formerly known as Strawberry Fields, was previously planted to cherries, chestnuts, walnuts, vegetables and of course strawberries, which their children enjoyed during the summer months. Prior to this, the Driver family grew apples and later vegetables, which went to the East End Market via the old, rough paved, steep graded, Greenhill Road. Raspberries, blueberries and kiwi fruit also thrive adjacent to the vineyard encouraged by the cooler, damper, summer weather afforded by the high altitude conditions; they ripen just in time for Christmas and New Year. Regions in which apples, pear and cherries thrive, such as the Piccadilly Valley, are well known to represent ideal conditions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Consequently, the Piccadilly Valley produces some of South Australia’s best known sparkling, Chardonnay and Pinot wines.
The vineyard is under the constant eye of Penny and her vineyard companion, Piero the ‘cavadoodle’, who walk the vineyard regularly. Being adjacent to the Eucalyptus wooded Mt Bonython and Cleland Wild Life Reserve, birdlife can be intense, especially as grapes mature. Magpies and kookaburras patrol rather ineffectively against the plague proportions of assorted parrots, galas and various other feathered ravenous friends. A rapidly expanding family of kangaroos inhabit the grassland gully and koalas have become regular visitors in recent years and there is now evidence of wild deer. The battle lines are drawn for whom reaps the greatest harvest!
The Greenhill vineyard was originally established to supply grapes for premium bottle fermented sparkling wine. It straddles the slopes of a ridge (580 metres above sea level) of ancient clay and mudstone rock with good water holding capacity; water supplementation is rarely needed – the vineyard is dry grown in all except the hottest-driest season. The ridge extends from the western rim of the Piccadilly Valley and faces Mt Bonython, which peaks at 677 metres. It divides two major water sheds, that to the south and west feeds the Onkaparinga system and the north easterly slope sheds to the Torrens Valley system. The slopes of the ridge offer essentially three vineyard aspects or terroirs with sections of the vineyard facing south (dappled sunlight, often shrouded by a friendly fog cloud in the cooler months), west (warm afternoon sun) and north-east (morning-midday sun). The cooler southerly slope, which is planted to Pinot Noir (Blocks 3 and 4), and a section grafted to three clones of Grüner Veltliner in 2013, is favoured for sparkling wine. The sunnier western facing slope (Block 1), which is planted to Pinot Noir D5V12, and sections grafted to the Bernard-Dijon clones 114, 115 and 777, is becoming more suited to still red wines. Block 1, which has three sub-blocks based on terrain: two rocky low vigour ridges, a vigorous gully and a moderate vigour south-western slope, affects wine characteristics. Block 2 Pinot Noir and the north-east facing Block 5 goes to still or sparkling depending on the season. Block 6, a predominantly north-eastern exposed tiny block of Cabernet Sauvignon, only produces ripe flavours in warm seasons, and is believed to be the highest altitude remaining Cabernet block in South Australia.
Vine density ranges from 3000 to 5000 vines per hectare and the double cordon trellis vines are currently spur pruned to two buds with vertically positioned canopy. To ensure high quality fruit for red wine making fruit thinning is applied as in 2016 and 2017 when naturally high crop levels form. Partial leaf removal of the canopy is also applied under very cool conditions to enhance ripe fruit flavours. Blocks 4 and 5 Pinot, and the Grüner and Cabernet are dry grown due to the excellent water holding capacity of the clay soil. The remaining blocks are only briefly water supplemented prior to a heat wave. Organic farming principles are being introduced progressively though earth worms are already serving as a great source of food for the prolific ground feeding bird life. The mature vines on this site are producing beautifully balanced fruit, meaning that the wines we can make truly reflect the essence of this region.