Prominent Coonawarra Winemaker retires after 25 years as Head Winemaker at Balnaves of Coonawarra.
Highly regarded and long-serving Coonawarra Winemaker, Peter Bissell is hanging his hat at the end of this month, as he bids farewell to the familiar surrounds of the Balnaves of Coonawarra winery and embarks on a new life chapter, in retirement.
The wine industry veteran leaves a formidable legacy in his wake, with 40 years of winemaking experience, 31 of those vintages upon terra rossa soil, and a string of awards to his name.
Originally from New Zealand, Bissell completed his studies at Roseworthy College in the late 80s. While studying he gained experience working in France, and at Australian wineries including Mountadam, Lindemans Hunter River, Leo Buring, and Pipers Brook in Tasmania.
Upon his return to Coonawarra, Pete worked at the iconic Wynns Coonawarra Estate winery for six years before moving to Balnaves of Coonawarra, where has remained.
“I spent the majority of my career working in Coonawarra and was given the freedom to do experiments, evolve the styles and go in a unique direction.”
“ I have been very lucky to be at Balnaves because the family is full of viticulturalists and have been very supportive of me doing innovative things in the winery and making the style of wine that we do,’ he said.
“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,” Bissell said.
The Balnaves family and Bissell have had a dream run of awards since, with the Jimmy Watson trophy for Punters Corner in 1999 (when the vineyard was run and wine made by Balnaves), Qantas/Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year in 2005, Jeremy Oliver Wine of the Year in 2007, James Halliday’s Winery of the Year in 2008 and a Langtons Classification of Outstanding for The Tally three times. Balnaves has been a 5-star-rated winery by James Halliday for 18 consecutive years.
In 2018 he too was recognised as Australia’s top winemaker, winning coveted award of Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology winemaker of the year.
Coonawarra Vignerons recognises Pete as a valued member of the Coonawarra wine community and a champion of the wine industry. An innovator both in the winery and the vineyard, his breadth of knowledge shared and commitment have contributed to Coonawarra’s positioning as a world-class fine wine-producing region.
Pete will not be leaving the industry all together. He will remain in Penola and work on his own vineyard, and looks forward to welcoming his first grandchild into the world later this year.
Jacinta Jenkins, who has been working under Bissell, will take over as chief winemaker from July 1.
Coonawarra Vignerons recognises Pete as a valued member of the Coonawarra wine community and a champion of the wine industry. An innovator both in the winery and the vineyard, his breadth of knowledge shared and commitment have contributed to Coonawarra’s positioning as a world-class fine wine producing region.
Coonawarra Vignerons congratulates Pete on such a successful career and extends their best wishes for this new chapter.