Wynns Coonawarra Estate viticulturist Allen Jenkins set to retire

October 5, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Allen Jenkins, much admired and loved member of the Wynns Coonawarra Estate team has announced that he will retire from his role as Wynns viticulturist following this year’s Wynnsday collection release on Wednesday.

Having spent 20 years at Wynns, Allen is looking forward to his next chapter and admiring from afar the next generation of viticulturists.

“It is incredibly rewarding to have led Wynns’ talented viticultural team for the past 20 years. We have a profound respect for our heritage, each other, and the precious environment that is Coonawarra. There is an intense focus on the needs of the vine, on implementing new and courageous viticultural techniques, and on unravelling the endlessly complex web of interactions involved in growing the perfect grape,” said Allen.

Having worked together for 20 years, Wynns Senior Winemaker Sue Hodder says Allen will be missed not only by the team at Wynns, but by the broader Coonawarra community.

“Allen has literally transformed the landscape in Coonawarra though his viticultural efforts. Furthermore, he has had an impact on the way we think about everything from the history to the land and certainly the wines. A profound contribution and a massive legacy.

“However, this is not a goodbye – Allen is and always will be a part of Wynns” said Sue Hodder.

Allen’s love of viticulture began 30 years ago, when he combined qualifications in agriculture and education to teach viticultural components of the winemaking and marketing courses at Roseworthy College. Prior to moving to Coonawarra in 2001 Allen consolidated his viticultural skills for seven years by managing vineyards in the Adelaide Hills and Eden Valley.

In 2001, Allen started at Wynns Coonawarra Estate as viticulturist and under his stewardship established a vineyard rejuvenation program, allowing Senior Winemaker Sue Hodder to craft wines of even greater finesse and elegance; and in 2010, in recognition of his contribution to viticulture at Wynns he was joint recipient, with Sue, of the Gourmet Traveller WINE’s Winemaker of the Year.

During his time at Wynns, Allen has collaborated at all levels, acknowledging climate change and viticulture practices and is renowned in the industry as having assembled a world-class viticulture team and mentoring dozens globally in his craft.  Under his guidance he has nurtured the careers of many of today’s wine leaders. This includes Pascal Marty (respected French viticulture consultant), Suzanne Mclaughlin from Vine Health Australia and Ben Harris, Nick Baverstock, Tim Malone, Dr Catherine Kidman, and Dr Kerry Degaris all from Wynns, as well as many others. 

Speaking with Drinks Trade today, Dr Catherine Kidman spoke of the Mr Jenkins’ legacy, the wonder of walking through the vineyards with him, observing the vines, an being privy to his “innovative thinking” and “big brain dumps”.

Dr Kidman has been working closely with Mr Jenkins on the prized Johnson’s Vineyard which this year releases its first since Cabernet since 2014.

Planted in 1954, Johnsons Block is the oldest surviving Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in Coonawarra. These heritage vines produce a distinctively fine and aromatic, dark fruited wine each year. The Johnsons Block was first bottled as a Shiraz/Cabernet blend in 2003, and again in 2004. The 2014 was the first release of Johnsons Block Cabernet Sauvignon as a single parcel.

More broadly Allen has actively represented Coonawarra regarding water allocation planning in an endeavour to ensure the long-term viability of the region’s precious groundwater. He has worked closely with foresters, farmers, graziers and Custodians of Natural Habitats in the Limestone Coast; and his keen interest of the region saw him coauthor a history book on the Wynns vineyards, ‘Out of the Blocks’ with Lainie Anderson and Sarah Pidgeon in 2017.

In retirement Allen plans to renovate his 1840s farmhouse, spend more time with his grandchildren and “go bush” back to central Australia where he and wife Jane started their working lives.  

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