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Named after the proprietor of the 19th Century mail coach service which once ran through their property, Henry's Drive Vignerons is the winery of the Longbottom family of Padthaway, South Australia.
Padthaway is part of the Limestone Coast in the South East of South Australia - an area rich in beautiful beaches, unique caves, the mysterious Blue Lake, world class produce and six wine regions. The region was once covered by sea, as can be evidenced by the limestone surface lying beneath rich red loamy soil and the sandy ridges running parallel to the now distant ocean.
Given the soil and the climate (good winter rains and mild, sunny summers), padthaway is ideal for viniculture and the first vines were planted there in 1964. In 1992, third-generation pastoralist Mark Longbottom and his wife Kim (who hails from the famed Marlborough wine region of New Zealand) carefully selected sections of their properties for the planting of vines. Four years later, a dream was realized with the release of their first wine, coinciding with another life affirming moment - the birth of their first child.
Since then, Henry's Drive Vignerons has grown in the size of its vineyards and output, as well as in stature. The vines the Longbottoms have planted in Padthaway (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdelho) cover over 500 acres and the resulting wines of great depth of color, flavor and aroma that have been praised by most of the best wine writers and critics in Australia and the U.S. These wines are a testament to the Longbottoms' dedication and to the growing awareness of Padthaway as one of the world's great wine regions.
In 2006 Henry's Drive Vignerons purchased 30 acres of Shiraz vineyards in McLaren Vale, situated on Willunga Hill. The grapes from this vineyard are blended with Shiraz from the Henry's Drive Padthaway vineyards to produce Dead Letter Office.
The Pillar Box line, which was unveiled in the 2004 vintage, is named for the ubiquitous red Pillar Boxes (mailboxes) that first appeared in the Padthaway region in the 1850s when the modern postal service was brought to Australia with the introduction of the postage stamp. The Longbottoms brought in the consulting winemaker Chris Ringland to help in the creation of this highly praised, value-priced line.
The Longbottoms carried the postal theme of the names through to the labels. Henry's Drive Shiraz and Reserve Shiraz have a sepia-colored rendering of the mail stagecoach traveling the Henry's Drive Trail, while the Parson's Flat Red Blend had a depiction of the Parson himself on the label. The Pillar Box wines feature a modern rendition of the actual front of the Pillar Box (with slot for letters).