People

Peter Bissell

Winemaker

BSc Hons (1st Class) in Biochemistry 1982. Diploma in Oenology & Viticulture 1988, Roseworthy College, South Australia. Pete began winemaking as part of his honors thesis, looking at colour extraction in Pinot Noir wines in the new cool climate region of Canterbury, New Zealand in 1981.

Pete then spent a year and a half in France working as assistant oenologist for A Moueix et Fils in Libourne who owns Ch. Fonplegade (St Emilion) and Chateau Moulinet (Pomerol), amongst others. He also worked in the laboratory and tasting rooms outside vintage and in the cellars during the 1985 vintage. The next 3 years were spent at Roseworthy College, completing a graduate diploma in 1988. During this time Pete worked the 1987 vintage with Adam Wynn at Mountadam, then with Gerry Sissingh at Lindemans Hunter River, John Vickery at Leo Burings and Andrew Pirie at Pipers Brook in 1988.

Pete was appointed Wynns winemaker in 1989 working at Wynns Coonawarra Estate with Peter Douglas until 1995. Peter did vintages as a flying winemaker for Penfolds in Russia (1993), for the Laperouse project in the South of France (1994), worked in the Coteaux de Languedoc and visited Bordeaux in 2000. Pete visited Tuscany and in particular Bolgheri in 2006. Pete joined Balnaves in 1995 to design and oversee construction of the winery and take over winemaking.

In 2005 Pete was named the Qantas / Gourmet traveller Winemaker of the Year. In his acceptance speech, Pete likened himself to a full forward in an Australian rules football team. On a good day with an excellent team around him he stated, the full forward can kick a lot of goals and be a hero, but without the team he would not get his hands on the ball. There is no doubt some truth in this, but we all realize that the team would not achieve very much if the full forward was not highly skilled and could not kick straight. Well done Pete, the team is very proud of you.

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Doug Balnaves

General Manager

Doug was born in Penola and attended the Penola Area School. Although his initial working life was spent in the Sheep Industry he became involved in the wine industry in 1971 when he was offered the position of Development Manager of the vineyard to be developed in Coonawarra by Hungerford Hill. After 17 years with Hungerford Hill he left that company to establish a vineyard development and management company in 1988. In 1990 their two children Kirsty and Peter joined Doug and his wife Annette in the business. Doug has been involved in various state and local bodies representing the wine industry including SA Wine & Brandy Association, Limestone Coast Wine Industry Council, Phylloxera Board and inaugural President of the Coonawarra Vignerons Association. He is an active member of the Penola Pipe Band and past president of the Coonawarra Guinea Pig Racing Association.

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Annette Balnaves

Director of Balnaves

After working in her career as a nursing Sister in Australia and overseas, Annette married Doug and settled in Coonawarra in 1967. For many years she was part of the Cellar Door Sales group at Balnaves. Annette relinquished much of this work in 1998 when she took on the formidable task of Chair of the Limestone Coast Tourism Association. Annette's efforts for tourism were recognized when she received the Harry Dowling Award. This award is made to people who have made an out standing contribution to tourism. Annette's life is currently fully occupied as Grandmother/Babysitter to her four grandchildren however she is slowly edging back into her passion for photography.

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Pete Balnaves

Viticulturist

Pete was also born in Penola, and on completing his education he worked for a Mildura winery and then returned to Balnaves in 1990. He is the Vineyard manager for Balnaves Vineyard services P/L and is currently responsible for some 550 Ha of vineyards in Coonawarra, including the Balnaves vineyards. Pete has been the chairman of the Coonawarra Grape Growers Association and Chair of the technical committee of the Limestone coast wine Industry Council. Pete is married to Amelia and they have two young sons, Hugo and Ned.

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Kirsty Balnaves

Director Marketing & Finance

Kirsty was born in Penola, and after finishing her education in Adelaide she spent time in Broken Hill and then in Tasmania at Cradle Mountain. Returning to Adelaide, Kirsty attended university where she studied Business Management and Marketing. In 1990, Kirsty joined the family company and is currently responsible for the administration and financial aspects of: vineyard management and contracting, winery contracting and making and selling Balnaves wines. Kirsty is a current member of the South Australian Wine Industry Association Executive Committee, board member of the Penola and District Community Bank - Bendigo Bank, member of the Penola and District Medical Support Group, volunteer for Meals on Wheels and active in the Penola Primary School community - although she is never asked to cook!

Kirsty was a member of the Coonawarra Vigneron's Association Executive for 15 years, including a period as Vice President, past member of the Lower South East Water Resources committee, past committee member of the Penola and District Little Athletics and Penola Netball Club. 

Her weekends are full of farming with Will, Ellie & Annie, sport, friends and the odd chook auction.

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Lauren Hansen

Assistant Winemaker

Lauren joined Balnaves in August 2015 with an impressive list of achievements and experience. Lauren gained BSC (Hons) in Oenology and Viticulture from Adelaide University and was Dux of her year in 2012. She has had considerable experience in the Limestone Coast at Cape Jaffa and Padthaway Estate as well as working at Brokenwood in the Hunter Valley and Maddens Rise in Victoria, the Clare Valley, and has found time to work vintages in  New Zealand, Austria & Canada. It is also great to know that Lauren grew up in neighbouring Naracoorte and her family currently live and work in Naracoorte. 

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