Last Thursday, 125 industry guests gathered at St Kilda’s Stokehouse to celebrate the 2024 Haliday Wine Companion Awards.

The awards included the inaugural inductees to the James Halliday Hall of Fame in two classes. The Hall of Fame: Wine recognises a wine that has won its category five times or more, and was awarded to the Seppeltsfield 100-Year-Old Para Vintage Tawny 1923. The Hall of Fame: Wine Industry acknowledges individuals who have made a great impact on the Australian wine industry, and this year’s inductee was Prue Henschke of Henschke Wines.

James Halliday AM recognised Prue for her outstanding achievements and contribution to the grapegrowing and winemaking industry.

“Prue Henschke has been a beacon for many people within the wine industry game and she has achieved such a lot, which has not only been relevant for Henschke but for the broader industry. [She] has shown consistently over many many years that she was the pace maker, not the pace follower, and she is a really wonderful person to work with,” Halliday commented.

“There is no one else that has done more for the broader wine industry…You can walk into a vineyard that she has under her care and you will very quickly come to the conclusion that this is remarkable,” he continued.

Henschke has over 50 years experience as a viticulturalist, botanist and conservationist, and has establish thousands of different Australian native plants in the Henschke vineyards. A planting program has restored woodlands and forests to 50% of all Henschke lands, with 18,000 trees were planted in one property alone. Henschke has also pioneered new trellis types which enhance grape quality and improve soil health through the use of organic and biodynamic practices, such as planting permanent swards of native grasses, using compost covered with straw mulch to preserve soil moisture and applying biodynamic preparations to the vineyards.

“I am incredibly honoured to be the first inductee in the James Halliday Hall of Fame. It is wonderful to see my work recognised and the importance of nurturing our vineyard sites and soils, and the role this plays in the wider winemaking community, especially as we head into challenging changes in the world’s climate. I never imagined that my ideas about soil health and connecting the vines to the surrounding landscape would have such an influence in viticultural practices across Australia,” Henschke said.

Award winners can from wine regions across the country. Winery of the Year went to Tasmania’s Pooley Wines, and Glenn Goodall from Xanadu Wines took home Winemaker of the Year. Serrat’s Tom Carson was awarded the Viticulturist of the Year, and Living Roots in Adelaide Hills won Best New Winery. L.A.S. Vino was awarded with Dark Horse Winery, and fellow Margaret River winery Deep Woods Estate won Best Value Winery. It was Best’s Wines’ Foudre Ferment Riesling 2021 that won Wine of the Year, which also was co-awarded best Riesling alongside Henschke Julius Riesling 2021.

This year’s honourees and award winners were presented by the Halliday Tasting Team, chief editor Campbell Mattinson, founder James Halliday AM, as well as expert judges Dave Brookes, Jane Faulkner, Jeni Port, Philip Rich and Shanteh Wale. The awards also launched the 2024 Halliday Wine Companion, which is now available for purchase.

“This year’s Awards and honourees underpin the strength and diversity of Australian wine amongst our regions. As a collective tasting team, we were in awe of the value that was represented in this year’s winners. We’ve unearthed some gems and honoured the very best of the best Australia has to offer. Our love for wine has only become stronger after tasting over 8500 wines across the year – it was a pleasure to taste alongside our expert judges. Congratulations to all the winners,” Mattinson concluded.

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