Metamorphic action of uplift created much of the Adelaide Hills and Barossa, yet our soils are heavily infused with ironstone.
Millions of years ago, the north west Barossa was under the ocean, so there are many sedimentary deposits, including laterite, which, through the weathering action of air and water, iron oxides have conglomerated into ironstone ridges, a feature of the north west Barossa.
Roenfeldt Hill is one of those ridges, its highest point now being 360 metres above sea level, deemed ideal for premium red grape growing.
The hilltop native flora includes much Peppermint Box, a local Eucalypt. We are sure that the ironstone gravels in our soil, the ideal atmospheric environment of the location, and the effect of the Peppermint Box trees, contribute the dark, inky colours, richness and unique flavours, then the aromas of our wines.
We have our own 16 years established vineyard, and we source grapes from the old family vineyard, with its ancient vines.
Our home-grown varieties include; Shiraz, Zinfandel, and Grenache, with Mataro/Mouvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier grown on the homestead property. We also source some super premium Riesling from the high country of Eden Valley.
We are one of the rare growers of Zinfandel (also known as Primitivo) in South Australia. This is a clone of a grape variety that originated in Croatia, called Crljenak. Along with Shiraz, it is Wayne’s favourite variety to work with, offering a key point of difference, with its luminous purple colour and spiciness.
Unique in Australia, Roenfeldt Hill has a 2002 planted block of Grenache, which has been trained spirally onto tall stakes, in a corkscrew fashion, similar to that of the ancient Romans, who were known to grow their grapes that way. You will see on some our wines a logo depicting this Corkscrew Method of vine training, which has proven to help produce exceptional quality fruit.
In the wine industry, it could be said that in a range of disciplines, less is better. It certainly applies to our vineyard. Small bunches and small berries are the norm, meaning that production averages of less than 2 tonne to the acre, often only 1.25 tonne, are common.
This means our grapes are eagerly sought by the top wineries of the Barossa, because of their exceptional quality and flavour. Today however, very little of our fruit is sold to other wineries, because it is needed for our own wines.
Wayne Elson is our managing trustee, winemaker and vigneron. He has had a long career in commerce, working in senior management of some of Australia’s major companies, with portfolios including general management, marketing, sales and R&D.
Since his teens, he had worked commercially in the environments of grapegrowers and winemakers. He learnt his winemaking skills on the job, initially as an amateur. Always a man of ability to learn new skills quickly, after some study and the guidance of a couple of top winemaker and winemaking consultant friends, he now flies on his own, receiving awards for his wines, which sell locally and overseas.
What are the Roenfeldt Hill wines like? Judge for yourself!
Our family, the Roennfeldts, (later simplified by some of the family to Roenfeldt) are sixth generation descendants of Christian Heinrich and Louisa Catharina Roennfeldt, who migrated to South Australia from Cropelin, Germany, 1849.
They were one of the first 100 families to settle in the valley. Being Lutherans, many had escaped religious persecution of the 1830s and early 1840s.
Others had endured economic hardship, feared war, conscription of their sons and political upheaval, so much that they decided to pursue the invitation of George Fife Angas (see key figures of South Australian history), for a new life down under.
They left the port of Hamburg on 4th May 1849, on the ship “Ocean” but nearly fell at the first hurdle, as Danish warships had blockaded the seaway. Success was achieved when the ship’s captain changed its name to “Wolga” and he flew a Russian flag. He then changed the name of the ship back to “Ocean” when they reached Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Christian Heinrich Roennfeldt was a farmer, but his main vocation was as a tradesman, a wheelwright, which had helped him avoid the worst of the hardships of farming back in his homeland.
Once the Greenock Road farm at Nuriootpa was established, his sons and grandsons diversified into farm machinery sales, and they had a Shell Oil agency, suggesting there was a strong commercial underpinning of the Nuriootpa enterprise.
The first stone buildings of the western Barossa were often from hewn ironstone, and this includes part of the original family homestead, still standing today.
Today, Wayne and Sandy Elson (nee Roenfeldt) work the soil of part of the land their forebears established into a successful mixed farm, with vineyards and related activities. Long gone are the machinery sales, oil and wheelwright activities, but still today, the business has diversity.
Along with grape growing, they have extended into wine production, adding value to their grapes, and the Elsons run one of South Australia’s top wine tour services.