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The Henty region sits in the south-west corner of Victoria, bounded by South Australia to the west, and the rugged coastline to the south. It abuts the Grampians region to the north-east, near the town of Dunkeld. The region as a whole lies about 370kms west of Melbourne.
It is a relatively new region, with the oldest vineyards planted in 1964 at the Seppelts Drumborg vineyard. Prior to the AGI recognition of Henty, the region was often called Drumborg or Far South-West Victoria. But in 2000, the region was officially recognised and named after the Henty brothers who first settled it in 1834. In fact, it is believed that the Hentys brought vine cuttings and planted vineyards when they first arrived. But the vines didn't survive, and the region was mostly left to farmland until the mid 1960s.
Today, there are nearly twenty vineyards planted throughout region.
Henty has one of the coolest climates of any wine region in mainland Australia. This marginal climate poses a real challenge for winemakers in cooler years. But the naturally long, slow ripening period, gives the grapes the chance to develop superb intense, varietal flavours. The region is mostly classified as cool continental, but southern parts of Henty are influenced by the nearby Southern Ocean, giving it a slight maritime aspect.
The terrain throughout Henty is gently undulating hills and slopes, with a low altitude range of 15-100m above sea level. Most of the vineyards across Henty are widely planted on older Basalt soils: weathered basalt with gravelly loam topsoil overlying red clay. More recent plantings have variously utilised rich black volcanic clays, maritime sandy loam over limestone, and patches of terra rossa over limestone.
This combination of cool climate, soil variation and aspect and slope, allows vignerons to cultivate a wide variety of grapes, as well as express the character of the individual vineyard sites through the wines.
Thanks to the cool climate, Henty produces some of the best Riesling in Australia. The long ripening period allows full flavour development, while the colder average temperatures help to retain the natural acidity in the fruit.
Similar to the other cool cliamte regions in Victoria, Henty is a great region for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The vines thrive in the naturally cooler temperatures, producing elegant and fine wines.
The other variety that performs exceptionally well in Henty is Cabernet Sauvignon. Again, the cooler temperatures allow for a lighter, more elegant expression, with excellent varietal character and complexity. Similar to Cab Sauv, Cabernet Franc also performs well here, with the best wines showing a beautiful floral nose, supported by a spicy and savoury palate.
Several producers have also had great success with Pinot Gris, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc as well, highlighting the diversity of vines and fantastic potential of the Henty region as a whole.