Creating the right blend for growth

By Michael Lane - April 21, 2016

When founder Keith Hentschke established the winery on the banks of Greenock Creek, Seppeltsfield, South Australia, in the 1990s, he says his goal was to “produce high quality wine with grapes grown on an exceptional vineyard”. His early vintages reflected his commitment to this goal.

In 2009, at a time when the global financial crisis (GFC) was crippling other businesses, the Hentley Farm leadership team was joined by Raymond Spencer, a ‘game changer’, in Keith’s words. Raymond brought a wealth of corporate expertise which he implemented quickly at Hentley Farm.

The team made changes to the structure of the company, cutting out middle men wherever they could so that they could control the winemaking, bottling, distribution and customer interface themselves. This vertical integration gave them greater agility and control over the customer experience.

The team attributes Hentley Farm’s growth to the following reasons:

A great product

From the first vintage, the Hentley Farm team knew that they had a good product from their special terroir, and they have continued to develop this over the years through the guidance of their highly talented winemaking team led by Andrew Quin. They see the customer’s interface with their wine as an important part of their business, which was the catalyst for the creation of the Award Winning Hentley Farm restaurant, in which wines are matched to an exquisite degustation menu overseen by head chef Lachlan Colwill.

The right people

The leadership team focusses on getting the right people into the business at the right time, focussing on hiring only the best, with traits such as friendliness, creativity, excellence and
‘different’ rating high on their hiring criteria.

A clear understanding of the end game In 2009 the leadership team clearly articulated their end game and mapped out a growth strategy. The Pitcher Partners Adelaide team were instrumental in providing financial modelling and setting up regular financial reporting. “We are now heavy on financial modelling, reporting and analysis,” Keith says, “which is very different to the early days when plans were scribbled on the back of an envelope.” The accountability brought about by this structure has provided the team with greater clarity of the end game and strategy.


At a time when many companies experienced difficulty in the middle of the GFC, the team at Hentley Farm quickly denied themselves the right to use the GFC as an excuse for lack of
success. They looked at the immediate impediments to growth and worked on changing them, rather than blaming the global situation.


The Hentley Farm team wants to be known as a ‘good citizen in the wine industry’. In addition to their responsible farming practices, they call their culture a ‘team culture’ rather than a ‘HR culture’. Keith elaborates, “We reward high achievement and success. We encourage our staff to try new things, which means that although there are mistakes, people are not reprimanded, because innovation is encouraged. Our team selfmanages the customer experience, because we hire the best and they know what is expected of them.”

With an impressive swag of awards now under their belt, the Hentley Farm team is now looking to the future with the overseas market firmly in sight.

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