Wine glasses perched on a crayfish pot next to a boat with a crate of wine inside on a beach

Our Story

We make wine on an island, a rock at the end of the world some would say. We see things differently. This wild isle of ours - it rewards patience and the results speak for themselves.

In the words of celebrated Australian wine writer and critic, Max Allen "It took nine years for Frieda Henskens and David Rankin to become an overnight success.

In January [2019], the pair’s 2010 Henskens Rankin Vintage Brut was named Champion Wine of Show at the Tasmanian Wine Show in Hobart. The wine also picked up the trophy for best late-disgorged sparkling. The reaction from quite a few people – including your correspondent – was, “Henskens who?” The second reaction was: I obviously need to try their wines.

Frieda Henskens is a Kiwi-born plant physiologist who side-stepped into viticulture and then winemaking after moving to Tasmania and marrying botanist and statistician David Rankin in the early 2000s.

“We’d both made wine as kids,” Henskens tells me. “David’s parents ... let him start making plum wine when he was eleven. And I started making wine on [a] dairy farm in New Zealand when I was about eight.
I’ve always been fascinated with sparkling: the first time I tried making wine I poured the juice straight into bottles and they went fizzy.

“So, David and I decided very early on to specialise in sparkling.”

Henskens also knew she wanted to make late-disgorged sparkling, to leave her wines on lees for many years to develop complex flavours and textures. And that’s exactly what the pair did with their first wine, the 2010 Vintage Brut. They intended to launch it in 2016, but unfortunate technical issues skewed their business
plans and forced them to postpone the first release until 2018.

So, when they “burst onto the scene” by winning those two trophies in January {2019], they had in fact been toiling away at their wines for close to a decade."

"One of the most important winemakers to me when I visited Champagne while doing my master’s degree in 2011 was Eric Rodez. He told me, ‘Every vintage, do crazy things ...carefully.’ I guess that’s what we’re doing.”

Despite trialling adventurous techniques such as wild [secondary] fermentation, Henskens and Rankin
aim to make top-quality, exclusive sparkling wines – which is precisely what some “experts” told them not to do.

“When we were planning to launch our wines, we talked to a consultant,” says Henskens. “He told us to drop our price and increase our volume. And he said, ‘For goodness’ sake, don’t use your own names as the brand name. Particularly not yours, Frieda’.”

Henskens laughs. Her name comes from her Dutch father, whose roots were in the southern Netherlands, where some sparkling wines are made. So of course, she and Rankin put their names on the label.

They have no intention of increasing volumes, either. They have capped annual production of their Vintage Brut at just 2500 bottles [per release] and have stuck to the plan of charging about $100 a bottle for their wines.

“We’re selling a luxury product,” says Henskens. “I have no interest in making $35 to $40 sparkling wine. There are already plenty of people doing a good job of that in Tasmania... The world doesn’t need another one of those.”

What the world does need, though, is more small batches of really special, unashamedly top-shelf sparkling wines like those of Henskens Rankin."

Prized Bubbles. Henskens Rankin arrives in sparkling fashion. Max Allen, AFR 25-27 Oct 2019. Parentheses added for clarity.

Intentionally luxurious, Henskens Rankin of Tasmania is founded on the principle that luxury is ethical. This guides the winemaking and choice of partners. It extends to every aspect of the business, particularly the supply chain: wherever possible materials are ethically-sourced and packaging re-useable, compostable and/or recyclable. From 2020 all Henskens Rankin wines are completely vegan friendly. It’s a journey in progress.

The brand logo is derived from our stylised joint signature.

Frieda Henskens & David Rankin

Frieda and David standing outside in Sandy Bay, Hobart