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Hahndorf Hill Winery | Adelaide Hills

Hahndorf Hill Winery | Adelaide Hills

It is always a pleasure to hear from the Larry Jacobs at Hahndorf Hill Winery - even better when you get a chance to ask him some interesting questions! We begin with the origins of Hahndorf Hill, its German roots and the lengths they go to in order to store as much wine in their cellar as possible - for research purposes of course!

View the Hahndorf Hill Collection


What are the origins of Hahndorf Hill, how did it all begin? 

The origins of Hahndorf Hill lie in a past life in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where Marc and I had a vineyard and winery called Mulderbosch. After emigrating to Australia in 1997, and living the ‘city-life’ in Sydney for 5 years, we both decided that the wine industry was too firmly established in our veins, So, we started to explore the cool-climate wine regions of Australia, and in 2001 we were lucky enough to find Hahndorf Hill for sale in the beautiful Adelaide Hills.

Are you full time on the farm? Or are you up to other things as well? 

Re-inventing and managing Hahndorf Hill has been a very full-time occupation for us for the past 21 years. But we both love the activity, the creativity and the daily demands that the industry brings. The challenges keep us on our toes and we wouldn’t change this for anything.

Golden rows of Gruner Veltliner in the Hahndorf Hill vineyard

Golden rows of Gruner Veltliner in the Hahndorf Hill vineyard

Perhaps you could spin us a a quick yarn about your story and leaving the medical field to start up your awesome winery.

How I left the medical field before establishing Mulderbosch in South Africa is a short and sweet story. It all began at a lightly wine-intoxicated Christmas party in the 1980’s, where I had one of those deep insights that it would be great to be able to make this liquid magic. Within 12 months I was packing my Johannesburg possessions onto a removalist’s truck and moving down to the winelands of Stellenbosch. And the rest is history.

Magic! So, what is it about Hahndorf Hill that makes it so special?

We try and ensure that every wine we make has an individual personality, but one that also strongly reflects this region where they are born.

Hanhndorf is a historic town and an excellent wine growing region. How did you come to plant some of the more eccentric grapes - Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, Gruner Veltliner?

When we purchased Hahndorf Hill from the original German owner, we inherited two unusual Germanic varieties that we’d never before come across – Blaufrankisch and Trollinger. This was the instigation that lead us to explore a whole new range of alternative varieties.

Our first dip into this arena was in 2005 when we started looking for an interesting white variety that would perfectly match the climatic conditions of our region. This is when we discovered and fell in love with Gruner Veltliner. Gruner is a variety whose spiritual home is in Austria, and multiple visits to their wine regions confirmed that our climate in the Adelaide Hills is almost a carbon copy of that in Austria’s Gruner wine regions.  But we didn’t only drink Gruner Veltliner on our Austrian trips, and so it was pretty inevitable that we also discovered the joys of their other wines such as Zweigelt and Saint Laurent.

We have now become the Australian specialists of Austrian grape varieties, which together make up a sizeable part of our total production.

What has been your favourite vintage and why? 

2011 was perhaps the most challenging and difficult vintage in our region due to the endless rain that this year brought. There was water coming from all directions throughout the growing period. But despite this, we managed to make an excellent Gruner Veltliner and both the Shiraz and the Blaufrankisch are ageing to be some of the best that we’ve produced.

Do you collect wine like the rest of us? 

Our on-going collection problems have created storage issues for us in our underground cellar. This space is meant to age all Hahndorf Hill wines prior to release. But we have two pallets (and growing) of collected wines that block space. However, I justify this on the basis of research.

Someone invents a time machine and you can crack a bottle open with any historical person - who is it, what are you drinking and why?

It will have to be with Frida Kahlo, whom I admire. We’ll be drinking the shimmeringly vibrant and lively, white Gemischter Satz which burnt an indelible memory into my brain, one afternoon in 2018 on a rooftop garden in Vienna. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the producer’s name, but the exhilarating whirl of the juicy, natural acidity continues to keep me awake at night. This wine, for me, personifies the extraordinary life of Frida Kahlo. 

Zweigelt grapes at Hahndorf Hill's 2022 vintage
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