A delicious drop with a hint of scandal
A dirty family secret isn’t usually an idea at the helm of a winemaker’s label, however Henry Hill isn’t just about delicious wine, but also a juicy story.
Henry Borchardt grew up in the Adelaide Hills and, like all good country boys do, helped out on his parents’ vineyard from a young age. So for Henry, finding himself well and truly immersed in the winemaking industry at the age of 23 wasn’t such a surprise.
“Mum and Dad have had vineyards for years and growing up I always helped out so I guess that’s what started my passion for growing grapes and making wine,” he says.
“Also, they’ve always loved drinking good wine, which has definitely had an impact on me.”
The scandalous story behind the name, which is referenced in a clever and teasing description on each bottle, stems back to Henry’s seemingly sweet, yet slightly promiscuous grandmother.
“Hill is actually my family name, not Borchardt, and the story goes back to my darling grandmother who had an affair with a man named Mr Hill and conceived my father,” Henry explains without a hint of hush-hush.
“The right thing back in the day was to keep the surname, Borchardt, but my surname should actually be Hill, hence Henry Hill.”
All racy jokes about Henry’s grandmother aside, it is clear that his passion for wine as a worthwhile, growing Australian industry and the appreciation of a decent glass of wine are why his label has seen such tangible success so early on.
Henry credits his years of experience in the Adelaide Hills working with some of the best viticulturists in the area for his knowledge of fruit growth and selection and says that he got lucky with the 2014 release, a Cabernet Sauvignon.
“With the first vintage, I was only going to do a small batch as a trial run but getting access to more fruit than I first thought paired with the fact that the wine turned out better than expected, meant that I wanted to run with it and release it under Henry Hill,” he says.
“Of course I back my own product and personally I love the drinkability of the 2014 release.
“I think it’s a very food friendly wine with vibrant fruit and low impact oak.”
Henry admits that although he had a vague idea of what he wanted the Henry Hill logo to embody, he relied on the talent of a friend to design it.
“The label we ended up going with, which was designed by my friend Lucy Hill-Smith, is simple and modern and now I’ve got a brand logo that is recognised as Henry Hill, which is exactly what I wanted,” Henry says.
The pared back yet striking black and white design with its’ unique logo is something Henry wants to build on and adapt for future varieties while retaining the essence of the original design.
Hard working doesn’t even begin to describe Henry’s approach to his work. He is currently transforming his parent’s worn down dairy on their property near Woodside into what he describes as a “contemporary winery with some existing industrial features”.
And his plans don’t stop there.
“At the moment I’ve got four different wines in barrel – a Shiraz, a Cabernet, a Tempranillo and a Pinot Noir, which will all be released early in 2016 from the 2015 vintage,” he says.
“I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to do for the 2016 vintage yet but I’d love to get into making a few whites.
“And anyone who knows me well knows I’m a big champagne man so I’d love to make some sparkling, but that will be further down the track.”
Although Henry has a strong connection to the Adelaide Hills area, he says the appeal and lure of some of South Australia’s other top-notch wine regions will be hard to resist.
“Having Mum and Dad’s influence with Adelaide Hills’ wines and therefore cooler climate wines means it’s always been a style I enjoy and love to drink,” he says.
“In saying that, the Barossa Valley is somewhere I’m very passionate about as well.
“At this stage I’ll keep sourcing all my fruit from the Adelaide Hills but I’d love to work in the Barossa and source fruit from there some day.”
The name Henry Hill, the charming ethos behind the brand and an easily enjoyable first drop are what makes this emerging South Australian winemaker one to watch.
Images: Brenton Edwards