Wine Master Praises Coonawarra Creations

Highbank Cabernet Sauvignon added to wine wishlist following rave review!

In an article in the Penola Pennant on 22nd August, Highbank has been labelled the ‘star of Coonawarra’ by Master of Wine, Ned Goodwin!

Click here to view the PDF of the article.

These are a few excerpts…

Among the four wines reviewed was the Highbank Coonawarra Family Reserve Single Vineyard 2013 – described as a dutifully forward vintage by Mr Goodwin, with the scented 13 supine and gorgeous drinking in its youth, bristling with currant, mint, black olive, mulch, cigar box and plum.

“The wine is strung across a timbre of herbal inflected tannins, well-appointed oak and juicy acidity, suggesting that it will carry well into old age,” Mr Goodwin said.

The wine receive a score of 96/100

Mr Goodwin praised the Highbank Coonawarra Single Vineyard 2014 saying the wine offered “a little more jam in the cabernet pastry” with the addition of the merlot.

“This opens beautifully, with currant and mottled leafiness blossoming to a pure line of cassis within a day of opening.”

This wine scored 94/100.

Cellar Door Tasting and Sales

We recently had a wonderful group through Highbank tasting our wines, and taking a lot of boxes with them on their way!

If ever you are going to be in the neighbourhood, just contact us to set up a wine tasting either at our Cellar Door or under the gum tree at The Cottage.

Wine Tasting Under the Gum Trees

Trade Mission from Shandong gets the ‘Red Carpet Treatment’ in Adelaide

Shandong is South Australia’s largest ‘sister state’ trading partner of some 30 years.


This government-to-government delegation included some 250 officials and business people.

Highbank  vineyards was part of a very select collection of wineries, from around the State, who were invited to present their wines.


We proved to be well prepared with our own sommelier / translator who was invaluable in presenting our premium wines and our unique wine making story.



Cellar Door Sales Winter 2016

We have had some lovely people book in for a wine tasting at our cellar door recently! If you would like to do a wine tasting, please book in via our contact page.



Highbank Wine review on

Drive north up the highway from Penola and keep your eyes peeled left and eventually you will spot a small homestead outside which lies a rather incongruous signpost pointing towards multifarious destinations around the world. Napa Valley: 13,270km. Bordeaux 17,045km. Rioja Alta 17,545km. Apart from instilling a sense of complete isolation, the signpost is there to signify that you are at Highbank, one of Coonawarra’s artisan wineries established by Dennis and Bonnie Vice (as well as a neat little cottage to rest your weary head travelling between Adelaide and Melbourne.) By Neale Martin

This is a small operation in every way: indeed my tasting of Dennis’s wines took place in a little annexe off his kitchen.

Dennis Vice in the centre of the wine worldBorn in California, he holidayed in Coonawarra in 1985 and liked it so much that he emigrated there and worked for the National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) for 12 years where he oversaw organic field certifications…. Dennis explains: “We had the great opportunity to attend several wine and matching food seminars put on by the great wine makers of California e.g. Robert Mondovi, Michael Grgich and many many more and when traveling with the old PAN AM airlines, Coonawarra wines were introduced to us by a very dear friend on a trip back to San Francisco. The region was a destination for serious wine enthusiasts and were really not internationally known until Greg Clayfield of now Zema Estate won the International Winemaker of the Year’ award of ‘Wine Spectator’. We got in before the rush. My wife and I always said as a goal…post-Chernobyl …that if we made a wine it must be so good that if we can’t sell it we would love to just drink it ourselves.”

“Viticulture and winemaking are not as demanding as other agricultural pursuits. Take cattle or other livestock, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Having immigrated to Australia from Hawaii and California, now some 25 years ago, my wife and I always had a goal to spend the winters in the other hemisphere. My wife is Hawaiian…get the pruning done and go! Guess where she is right now…and me here pruning in the vineyard! So not everything has totally worked out.”

Of course, being so small means that they pay attention to detail: hand pruning, fruit-thinning and hand-harvesting, all those practices that I assumed never existed in the mechanized region. “Our family vineyard is a small vineyard by plan. We both wanted to enjoy the life style and keep the work load reasonable. It was originally planted proportionally to the varieties on our back label. If in years where God and nature are more generous to us, we select fruit for a Family Reserve Cabernet or Merlot.”

“When we first planted (10- now 15-acres) we knew the style of wine we wanted to achieve and were very aware of the importance of matching the soil type and variety with original plantings based on extensive soil profiling of this beautiful ‘Terra Rossa’. Plantings were originally 65% Cabernet Sauvignon (6 clones), 25% Merlot (2 clones) and 10% Cabernet Franc. Replants on rootstocks now represent 10% of the same varieties. All clones were selected against the trend at the time, only low to moderate yielding with selection based on actual tasting of wines made from different source vineyard block from around the world, e.g. Europe, California, South America and Australia. A very good Canadian friend was in charge of vine improvement in South Australia and my teaching the industry about wine growing really helped with industry connections!”

“Grape consistency every year is maintained with varietal block sizes being generally small with the view to creating small batches of individually expressive and uniform fruit. Green pruning controls yields per vine. They think we are crazy! Meticulous hand pruning to specific pre-determined bud numbers, shoot-thinning and extensive canopy management: Scott Henry and 2 wire vertical. We target along with use of natural fertilizer (organic fertilizer) when needed by analysis and no chemical herbicides or insecticides have ever been used.”

Researching the background to Highbank, I found that Dennis was helped by Trevor Mast overseeing the winemaking… “Trevor and I shared the same basic philosophy of wine making: traditional with as little intervention
as possible. Trevor has Alzheimer’s and is unfortunately not working with us any more. We used a small basket press to control pressure on grape bunches and open fermenters to control the heat of fermentation. There is no fining or filtration. We emphasized making the wines in the vineyard as we did not have all the wiz bang equipment used today.

”The wines of Highbank have already received praise from some bloke by the name of Robert Parker and I would concur: these are high quality Coonawarra wines fashioned in a way that has more parallels with the Old World than new. I was particularly impressed by the Highbank Coonawarra 2002, which after bottle ageing is showing great complexity, fine tannins and a certain “coolness” or “nonchalance” that is very attractive. Production is of course limited, but these are well worth seeking out.

Highbank ‘Coonawarra’s Artisan’

The only Limestone Coast finalist winery in the 14th Annual South Australian Regional Awards for: “Outstanding achievements and significant contributions demonstrating excellence in regional leadership”.

Premium Food and Wine from a Clean Environment – Wine

The name ‘Highbank’ comes from the famous strip of red earth – the high bank of ground that is the central spine of the true Coonawarra wine district.

Many of Highbank’s latest wine reviews point out that Highbank is setting a benchmark standard for elegant wines being produced in Coonawarra.

Visitors are invited to spend time in the very private vineyard accommodations of Highbank and sample some of the best from this region’s artisan winemaker.

The cellar door is open by appointment. Wines are primarily sold to the finest restaurants in Australian capital cities, and in the last 20 years Highbank has exported wines to 15 countries.

Highbank Coonawarras Artisan - COONAWARRA Booklet page10

Setting Standards

Gourmet Traveller review


Beach Trip with Clients

A beautiful day on the Limestone Coast doing a photo shoot for Highbank