BALNAVES | Coonawarra, South Australia
The Balnaves family arrived in the district in 1855, so the Coonawarra roots run deep. Balnaves of Coonawarra Vineyard was established in 1975 by Doug and Annette Balnaves upon the first vines being planted on the rich terra rossa soils. Fruit from these vines continues to be harvested today. In 1990, Kirsty Balnaves and Pete Balnaves returned home to join the family company, and the winery continues to be family owned and run to this day. Coonawarra legend, Pete Balnaves, was the winemaker from 1995 to 2020, and he still hangs around today spitting his knowledge. Jacinta Jenkins, who used to work as Assistant Winemaker to Pete, took the reins in July 2020, and she is upholding the high quality of the Balnaves brand.
Coonawarra has long been considered one of the great Australian regions for producing premium dry red table wines, predominantly made from the cabernet sauvignon grape. This reputation has been developed primarily from wines grown on a unique strip of red 'terra rosa' soils which is approximately 10 miles long and slightly over one mile wide. Coonawarra is situated in the South East of South Australia and is a cool climate region, which plays an integral part in crafting balanced wines with bright acidity and firm, mouth-filling tannins.
The vineyards on the Balnaves property have grown steadily since the first 5 hectares were planted in 1975. The principal variety planted is Cabernet Sauvignon, which accounts for 70% of the percentage under vine, while the addition of merlot, shiraz, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and chardonnay make up the remaining 30%. The vineyards are divided into small blocks of between 1 and 2 hectares, which take into account depth of soil, trellis design, vine clone, and row direction. The quality of wine produced from these small blocks is evaluated each year and recorded.
Balnaves has just completed its third full year of not using roundup or any pre-emergent, and they are trialing an organic weed killer.
Both The Blend and Cabernet Sauvignon are fermented with native yeasts from the vineyard and the winery. Thoughtful oak regimens are used on both wines, with an emphasis on using multiple types of vessels to create complementary flavors to the wine and not overpower the fruit. The goal is to build maximize and build complexity and structure in all the wines. Rather than focus on simple varietal fruit characters, the wines show complex fruit, oak, and tannin aromas, and rich yet fine palate structures, with noticeable texture as well as flavor on the finish.
Balnaves takes great pride in creating wines that are 100% Coonawarra and are produced exclusively from fruit grown by the Balnaves family.
"Our aim is to produce consistently high quality wines from fruit sourced from our own Coonawarra vineyards, reflecting the unique flavors, character and quality of fruit grown in this area, as well as the variation of the seasons in this cool climate area." - Balnaves of Coonawarra