Pete Bissell retires from over 40 years of winemaking

Pete Bissell has been the Balnaves label winemaker since 1995 and was in charge of planning a brand new winery site, something most winemakers only dream of.

“It was a great moment when we won the Camperdown Cellars Best Cabernet Trophy at the Sydney show in 1998 with the Balnaves 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon, the first vintage made through the new winery,” Bissell reflected.

With over 30 years of winemaking experience with 25 of those years as the senior winemaker at Balnaves, Coonawarra, the winemaking world will be a different place as Bissell ventures into his next chapter in life of retirement.

Originally from New Zealand, Bissell studied and completed his studies at Roseworthy College, South Australia in the late 1980s.

While studying, he gained experience working in wineries overseas and then in Australia including Mountadam, Lindemans Hunter River, Leo Buring, and Pipers Brook in Tasmania.

In 1989, Bissell was appointed winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra Estate as a flying winemaker where he undertook vintages for Penfolds in Russia in 1993 and South of France in 1994.

“I am very grateful to the Balnaves family for the opportunity to initially design and build the winery back in 1996, but also for the 25 years I have spent here,” he said.

Bissell said he is grateful for the experience of working the majority of my career in Coonawarra and “being given the freedom to do experiments, evolve the styles and go in a unique direction.”

Vintage 2020 marked Bissell’s 32nd Vintage in Coonawarra and 40th vintage in total. He leaves the Balnaves of Coonawarra assistant winemaker Jacinta Jenkins to take on her new role of senior winemaker within the company on July 1st 2020.

Jenkins completed a vintage with Balnaves during her studies at Adelaide University to complete a post-graduate Diploma of Viticulture & Oenology in 2016.

Upon completing her studies, she worked as assistant winemaker in the Clare Valley at Pikes Wines before returning to Balnaves as assistant winemaker in 2018.

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