Eden: heavenly grace, hills and vales

We moved from Clare, through Barossa, and into Eden valley in pursuit of some of the finest wines of the world. In the 1840s and 1850s settlers moved from the coast in the south, pushing north and east up streams, creeks and gullies, to secure their purchases – made through George Fife Angas, the british coordinator of this vast land allocation. On the very hot and bone dry morning that we drove through the region, the glorious light, the rolling landscape and the stunning trees all spoke of paradise.

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On the other hand the names of these wineries and vineyards speak of homesickness and at the same time profound gratitude. Some of them still resonate, especially for those of us whose own homes in Europe are close by the original places: Pewsey Vale, or Hill of Grace.

Gnadenberg (literally hill of grace) isn’t really a hill as such; it is the area surrounding one of the first churches built by the settlers in the far north east of Eden Valley, and now the name of a world famous vineyard. In the 1850s the Henschke family settled a few kilometres south of the church, which was central to their lives; a focus for their profound faith, deep hope, values and aspirations.

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Four preceding Henschke generations are buried around Gnadenberg church; great uncle Julius being responsible for some of the finely sculpted angelic headstones, and now recognised as one South Australia’s more original sculptors.

To celebrate the 140th anniversary of its founding, one of the Henschke wines from that vintage was given to the church, securing its future contribution to life in the Hill of Grace. Gracious in deed….

The present family members, led by Stephen and Prue Henschke, both botanists by training, continue to live by grace; waiting on the the gifts that the land and the seasons offer, year on year. Their commitment to restoring native species plants and original vines complements their bio-dynamic convictions. For reflections on their extraordinary wines made with such care and conviction see this link:

Henschke – the pinnacle

Pewsey Vale – the home of the fine vineyards of Yalumba’s best riesling isn’t a vale either! It is one of the higher regions of Eden valley and perhaps reminiscent of Wiltshire in a less hot season of the year. It felt like the top of the world.

Jane Ferrari – global ambassador for Yalumba, a legend from Alice Springs, and a force of nature in her own right – drove us to see it, armed with the riesling itself, some coffees and cakes to die for. A hostess beyond comparison and a mine of information. Thank you Jane, for an unforgetable afternoon.

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