Hill of Grace: 150 Years of Henschke Under Southern Skies »

Fiona MacDonald follows the family from Prussia in 1841 to Australia today

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<i>Hill of Grace</i> by Fiona MacDonald

Hill of Grace by Fiona MacDonald [©Hardie-Grant]

Viticulturist Prue Henschke, Henschke Wines
Henschke Hill of Grace
Barossa Shiraz - 'Grandfather' vines in Henschke's Hill of Grace vineyard


The story of Australia's celebrated Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz and the history of the family who craft this wine is now available in a spectacular book, Hill of Grace: 150 Years of Henschke Under Southern Skies.

A rich work with striking full colour photography by talented Barossa photographer Dragan Radocaj, the book also features images from the Henschke archives and historic lithographs showing paintings by English artist George French Angas who captured scenes of colonial South Australia when he visited in the 1840s.

The book features Henschke Hill of Grace tasting notes from 1858 to 2012 as well as information on all Henschke single vineyards and their most prized wines.

Author Fiona MacDonald takes readers on the fascinating Henschke family journey from Prussia in 1841 to today; their escape from the religious persecution of King Friedrich Wilhelm III; their challenging journey to the bottom of the world to carve out new lives in the Australian bush; and tales of the six generations that lie behind the legend of Henschke wine.

From the very beginnings of settlement in South Australia in 1838, vineyards were quickly planted, with the wine industry seen as a golden opportunity. Many of these colonial vineyards were lost in time. Few attained the international success of Henschke and their distinguished shiraz Hill of Grace.

This famed vineyard is tiny, just four-hectares. The oldest vines, the 158-year-old ancestral ‘Grandfathers' are believed to have originated from material brought to South Australia by the early settlers.

For almost 40 years, the vines have been nurtured by botanist and viticulturist Prue Henschke, who has restored the organic practices used by Louis Henschke – her husband, winemaker and co-director, Stephen’s uncle – and has improved soil and vine health through the use of biodynamic principles.

“These gnarled, old pre-phylloxera vines were planted on their own roots by Stephen’s ancestor Nicolaus Stanitzki in 1860 and have the most incredible resilience, having survived the centennial and federation droughts”, says Prue.

In 2018 the Henschke family celebrate 150 years of winemaking. Current custodians Stephen and Prue, work hand in hand with their progeny, Johann, Justine and Andreas who are the sixth generation.

Hill of Grace: 150 of Henschke Under Southern Skies was released in October 2018 to mark the 150-year anniversary of Henschke family winemaking tradition in the Barossa’s Eden Valley.

The latest vintage of Henschke Hill of Grace 2013 was released in the same month – a very small vintage from a dry year that delivered beautiful though tiny yields.

Hill of Grace: 150 of Henschke Under Southern Skies by Fiona MacDonald is published by Hardie Grant Books (Sydney, NSW; Oct 2018; Hb; 232 pp; RRP A$60.00). It is available at good shops with gift box editions available exclusively at the Henschke cellar door »

About the Author

Fiona MacDonald began her media career working on television programs including Wombat, It’s a Knockout and Good Morning Australia. Fiona has contributed articles and columns to Brisbane’s The Courier Mail, Sydney’s The Sunday Telegraph, Elle Magazine and The Weekend Australian Magazine. She has spent the last twenty years in marketing and public relations for the wine industry.

During the writing of Hill of Grace, Fiona discovered that her own family tree could be traced back to the 12th century MacDonalds on the Scottish Isles. In a parallel to the Henschke story, Fiona’s ancestors came to South Australia as free settlers in 1853 on a ship called the HMS Hercules.

Fiona now runs consultancy Wine Chronicles specialising in wine storytelling and public relations from her home beside one of Sydney’s eastern beaches.

About Henschke:

Henschke, one of Australia’s oldest family owned wineries, is celebrating 150 years of winemaking in 2018.

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 and Barossa Valley.

In the early 1980s, fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Henschke and his viticulturist wife Prue became pioneers of viticulture in Lenswood, a sub-region of the cool-climate Adelaide Hills wine region.

Today, Stephen and Prue are recognised around the world for their exceptional quality wines, innovation and sustainability in the vineyard. In recent years they have welcomed next-generation family members into the business; Johann has carried on the family winemaking tradition in his capacity as winemaker and viticulturist since 2013, and Justine joined in the role of marketing and public relations manager in 2015. 

The Henschke family continue to craft their white wines with a focus on purity, and their red wines with a strong sense of place, leading the way with biodynamic practices, complemented by traditional winemaking. They are mindful of their role as custodians of the land and their need to nurture it for future generations.

About the ‘Barossa Old Vine Charter’

“Barossa is home to some of the oldest continuously producing vineyards in the world.

In 2009, the Barossa Old Vine Charter was instituted to register vineyards by age, so that older vines could be preserved, retained and promoted. Under the Charter, vines are grouped into four categories by age: (in ascendant order) Old, Survivor, Centenarian and Ancestor.
The Barossa Old Vine Charter makes a strong stand about protecting these gnarled old vines so that no one considers pulling this priceless treasury of viticultural heritage from the ground again.


  • Barossa (including Eden Valley) (SA)

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October 19th, 2018
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