03/19/2010

Foster's EMEA Ltd.

Penfolds – Australia’s most famous winery

History – A wine gets ahead
Penfolds wasn’t founded with the intention to establish a prosperous winery in the famous Barossa Valley. Rather it was simply by accident that it became what it is today: one of Australia’s most famous and well-known wineries. At the age of 33, after having finished his studies of medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, Dr. Rawson Penfold decided to emigrate to Australia. Traditionally, Englishmen for many centuries possess a high wine culture and thus it perhaps isn’t surprising that Dr. Penfolds brought wine seedlings along which he has bought just in time before his departure in France. In 1844 he and his family settled in Magill in the Barossa Valley and founded the winery Penfolds. The country house which they lived in was called after the old home country of his wife “The Grange”, a name which 110 years later was the inspiration for the world’s most famous and greatest red wine.

However, Dr. Penfold did not find the company for monetary reasons, rather he was persuaded of the positive effects of the wine on his patients’ health. For him the wine was a medicine rather than anything else. Thus he treated his patients in the country house while his wife Mary looked after the winery. As the demand for the Penfolds wines rapidly increased, the company had to add on to their vintages. When Dr. Penfold passed away in 1870, the company already had reached a size of 25 hectares. For 14 years his wife lead the Penfolds management completely on her own until her daughter Georgina took over the business at the side of her husband Thomas Hyland in 1884. When Mary Penfold died in 1896, she left a flourishing company which had vintages on more than 50 hectares and with an amount of approximately 500,000 litres produced a good third of the overall Australian wine production at that time. Thus it is beyond all question: Around the turn of the century Penfolds has become the most important and well-known wine-grower of the fifth continent.

On the way to legend – The pioneer work of Max Schubert
Being still very young of age Max Schubert already worked for Penfolds. In Magill Estate he made it to the assistant of the winemaker until the Second World War began and he was confiscated for military service and went to Europe. Immediately after his return to Australia he started to work again for Penfolds and from 1948 onwards he himself was responsible for the production at Magill Estate. Max Schubert enjoyed the highest esteem by the Penfolds family and as the first non-family-member was sent to Europe for an educational trip about wine.

In the fifties Penfolds was leading in the vineyards modernization and cellar technology. In this time, Max Schubert also developed the BIN system which immediately was adapted by many producers so that one can also find it on bottles other than Penfolds. Based on the BIN-System Max Schubert developed a “Dynasty of Wines”, a kind of wine family with special characters, different from vintage to vintage, but still with a clear and strong relation to one another. Into this time exactly falls the creation of many of today’s world famous wines as for example the Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz BIN 389, the Coonawarra Shiraz 128 or the Shiraz Mourvèdre BIN 2. In 1973, at the age of 60, Max Schubert withdrew as Penfolds Chief Winemaker and left the field to the following generation. Until then he already had become one of the big Australian legends and, of course, he is immortal in his greatest creation – Penfolds Grange.

With innovation and creativity into the 21st century
To also guarantee the wine’s high quality in the future, the project “Max” was created in memory of the famous cellarmaster and chief winemaker Max Schubert. “Max” stands for the continuous search for other high-class vineyards which are supposed to be bought off after detailed scientific investigation to increase the basis of other premium wines. Today the name stands for rich, long-lasting red wines like – apart from Penfolds Grange – BIN 128, BIN 28, Saint Henri, Magill Estate and Yattarna Chardonnay. White wines like the Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2007 or the “retro classic” Koonungs Hill Seventy Six are held by Penfolds as well. With the beginning of the 20th century, Penfolds wines became famous worldwide, also in the media. According to the critic Robert Parker, Penfolds is Australia’s most important red wine producer, awarded with various prizes from magazines like the Weinwisser or Wine Spectator. On the "Wine of the Century" ranking Penfolds Grange can be found under the top ten wines. Although the winery is satiated in the Barossa Valley, the grapes come from all over South Australia with ample vinyards that all belong to Penfolds. A special jubilee could be celebrated in 2001: 50 years of Penfolds Grange. And also the introduction of the Penfolds Recorking Clinic was welcomed by wine lovers all over the world. In all Australian metropolises, but also in foreign ones like Chicago, New York, London or Stockholm this year, collectors of high-quality Penfolds wines can bring their bottles to get them recorked.

In its existence, Penfolds has launched a huge amount of wines. Today, some of them have disappeared, but many others have become classics of the fifth continent and even international best-sellers. But as if just poured in: among experts Penfolds wines are considered a profitable investment. While funds and real estates are subjected to constant variations, the wines regularly achieve top prices at auctions. At the annual Penfolds Wine Auction for example, the Penfolds 1957 Shiraz St. Henri was hammered off for A$8,110 a bottle, the highest price ever paid for a St. Henri. Therefore, the Penfolds Christmas Collection is the ideal present for epicures and investors of every age. Today the Penfolds wine production is overseen by Peter Gago, a highly decorated and much awarded winemaker. It is certain: What once began in a small vineyard around a medical surgery in the Barossa Valley, today has become one of the most important producers of the fifth continent. One can find the wines with the charismatic red label all around the globe – and this is exactly what has made Penfolds the "Legend from Down Under". For further information about Penfolds please see www.penfolds.com.