“The Balnaves family, Coonawarra and Cabernet Sauvignon are concentric circles, indivisible from one another,” declares James Halliday. So true: they’re Coonawarra to the core. Doug Balnaves and children Kirsty and Pete were all born in Penola and the winery sits at the heart of the famous Terra Rossa strip, where Doug started planting vines in 1976. The great Pete Bissell was a key piece of the puzzle during a 25-year reign as winemaker, before passing the reins to his talented understudy Jacinta Jenkins in July 2020. The Chardonnay is consistently among the region’s best, while The Blend – a wine with “a long and proud history of over-delivering” according to Halliday – sets the tone for reds that are everything that they should be and more. They culminate with The Tally, an opulent but beautifully balanced Cabernet richly deserving of its “outstanding” rating in Langton’s classification of Australian wine.
About Jacinta Jenkins
Jacinta – or JJ as she’s affectionately known – came home to Coonawarra in 2016 to work alongside the great Pete Bissell. The latter had become a legend of the district and Australian wine during a 25-year tenure at Balnaves, and his instincts and wealth of experience have been passed onto his erstwhile assistant, who took the winemaking helm in July 2020 upon Pete’s retirement.
JJ completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Biochemistry in 2012, before becoming immersed in wine with vintages in Coonawarra, New Zealand, the US and Germany, where she worked at great Mosel estate and CellarHand stablemate Dr Loosen. She worked her first vintage at Balnaves in 2015 before undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Adelaide. After a couple of years with our kindred Riesling spirits at Pikes in the Clare Valley, she moved back to Cabernet country where she’s excited to take this great estate forward.