Australia’s journey from colonial settlement to the modern era. Established in 1844, Penfolds has played a pivotal role in the evolution of winemaking in Australia and indeed, across the world. After early beginnings as a provider of iron‐rich tonic wines for Adelaide’s fledgling society, it became Australia’s largest producer of fortified wines by the time of Australia’s Federation in 1901. The acquisition of the 19th century planted Kalimna Vineyard on the western edge of the Barossa Valley in 1945 was a precursor to a period of extraordinary ambition and innovation. The story of Grange is a modern tale of imagination, a battle against the odds and redemption. Max Schubert, a then young inquisitive winemaker, travelled to Europe after World War II to investigate winemaking. The mission was to learn about sherry production but a side trip to Bordeaux led to the extraordinary development of Penfolds Grange and the commercialisation of dry red table wines. The discovery of the relationship between pH and wine stability by Penfolds scientist Dr Ray Beckwith, initially kept under strict wraps for commercial advantage, eventually percolated through the wine industry worldwide. With the practical preventative solution of using pH meters to a centuries‐old problem of random deterioration, winemakers could now protect the quality and consistency of their wines. Indeed the entire 1950s embraced major advances in winemaking techniques from yeast technology to fermentation practices and
new oak maturation.
However, it was not without set‐backs. The order by ‘Head Office’ in Sydney to stop making the revolutionary Grange, on account of bad press and expert feedback, lead to mutiny in the cellars at Magill. Three successive vintages, 1957, 1958 and 1959 were hidden in the drives by Chief Winemaker Max Schubert and his close‐knit winemaking team. The all‐clear was given with the resounding success of 1955 Grange Hermitage on the Australian wine show circuit. By the early 1960s Chief Winemaker Max Schubert oversaw the creation of a “dynasty of wines which may differ in character from year to year, but all bear an unmistakable resemblance and relationship to each other.” Bin 28, Bin 389 and Bin 707 were all commercialised during this period. Even John Davoren’s legendary St Henri Claret, the alter ego of Grange and matured in older oak, shared a family resemblance. This winemaking signature, developed and refined over decades, is known as the ‘Penfolds House Style’. Under successive Chief Winemakers, Don Ditter, John Duval and Peter Gago, the Penfolds portfolio of wines has remained true to the original blueprint. This is also a testament to the integrity and collaborative effort of the long‐standing Penfolds winemaking team. The strength of Penfolds is that it is ‘all about the wine’.