Custodians - The Hesketh Family
The Hesketh family assumed custodianship of Parker Coonawarra Estate in March 2013. With over fifty years’ experience in the wine industry, their philosophy is to retain John Parker’s vision for the Estate, focusing on the core elements that make Parker Estate superior. The most appropriate grape varieties and clones, grown on the right soil profile in the best locations within Coonawarra, to make the best possible wines from this exceptional growing region.
The Hesketh family believes that private aegis of Parker Estate is essential to its success, and their role is to nurture the brand and the winemaking to ensure the best possible wines are produced. Retaining the integrity of First Growth and Terra Rossa wines is integral to this philosophy, as is the development of new Coonawarra based varietals - replacing previous wines made from outside the region - restoring Parker Estate’s focus and unwavering dedication to Coonawarra.
Vineyard Management - Brett Williams
The man behind the vines – Growing up in a farming household has given Brett a very hands- on approach to grape growing. He established his first vineyard in the mid nineties; a beautiful forty hectare property only five minutes by tractor from Parker Coonawarra Estate. The Williams vineyard now acts as the main source of fruit for our Coonawarra Series Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Brett takes great pride in his work, and the meticulous attention to detail he employs in the vineyard is reflected by how immaculate it looks, but more importantly, in the top grading that his fruit achieves year after year.
Having a dedicated and fastidious manager of the Parker Abbey Vineyard, with the passion and direction to grow the highest quality fruit, means our vineyards have never looked better and will continue to produce the highest caliber Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Andrew - a fifth generation Hardy - comes from serious wine pedigree; his great great grandfather Thomas Hardy was known as the 'Father of the South Australian Wine Industry' after being an integral part of SA's inception into the wine world in the late 1800s.
Following the natural order of his family tree Andrew studied winemaking at the Riverina College of Advanced Education (now Charles Sturt University) before commencing his winemaking career, in 1982, working for Brian Croser at Petaluma. During this period he also completed winemaking stints in California, Oregon and Bordeaux before coming back to take the reins at Knappstein, where he remained for almost a decade. Whilst in Clare, Andrew was awarded the Warren Winiarski Trophy for 'Best Cabernet in the World' and the Trophy for 'Best Australian Red Wine' for his Enterprise Cabernet, he was also pivotal in the industry's adoption of the Screwcap closure
Throughout his years at Petaluma Andrew also completed the Executive Program for Growing Companies at Stanford University, California, presided as Chairman on the Royal Adelaide Wine Show, Clare Valley Winemakers Association and The Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of SA boards, and is now Trustee of the RA&HS.
In October 2018 Andrew joined James Lienert and Keeda Zilm to complete the Parker Coonawarra Estate winemaking team, bringing with him over 36 years of invaluable experience and knowledge.
James was born and raised on a farm in the Gomersal/Sheaoak Log region of the Barossa Valley, an area well populated by Lienerts thanks to James' large family.
Working to his strengths, and interests, James enrolled in a Bachelor of Science (Organic and Inorganic Chemistry) at the University of Adelaide, following high school. With winemaking as his second preference he jumped at the offer of an honours position in wine chemistry, seeing this as a valuable step in the right direction. The endless hours in a “windowless lab” confirmed to James that, regardless of his love for chemistry, the Mad Professor life was not for him! The allure of winemaking (and being outdoors) proved irresistible, and to cement this decision, James completed a Masters in Oenology in 2011 - 2012.
Amongst all this study James has still managed to fit in 14 vintages at wine regions around the world. Following his first stint at Penfolds in 2008 he has since completed vintages in New Zealand, USA and Germany, now finding himself working alongside Andrew Hardy and Keeda Zilm as winemaker for Parker Coonawarra Estate.
Keeda grew up in Kingston, 250km south-east of Adelaide. Whilst winemaking, specifically, wasn't her first consideration she has always had a passion for agriculture and a path of winemaking seemed a compelling direction to further explore this interest.
It was during her Oenology degree at the University of Adelaide that Keeda began work at O'Leary Walker Wines (OLW) in the Clare Valley. Her initial position as cellar hand quickly morphed into winemaker and before long she was over-seeing four full-time cellar hands, five casual vintage employees and working directly with David Walker and Nick O'Leary, a position she held for 10 years. Along with maintaining and executing the blend portfolio for OLW, Keeda also worked as a grower liaison, harvest logistics person, director of operations of red ferments and an oak and equipment procurer for the company.
In addition to her work at OLW, Keeda has winemaking experience from vintage roles for Domaine Dubois (Burgundy) and Elk Cove (Oregon) as well as professional development via the AWRI Advanced Wine Assessment Course, regional Clare Wine Show chief steward, the Clare Valley Education Committee and the Clare Valley Tasting Group.
In October 2018, after an incredible 16 years at OLW, Keeda joined the winemaking team at Parker Coonawarra Estate, working with James Lienert and Andrew Hardy.
Cellar Door - Kirsty Bailey & Erica Kay
Kirsty and Ec not only share the Cellar Door management duties, but they also represent the heart and soul of Parker Coonawarra Estate.
Kirsty has been with Parker for more than 12 years, and knows more about the history and workings than anyone else, including the walls. Many things and people have come and gone, but Kirsty has been the one constant that greets visitors and keeps order at the cellars year after year.
Ec has been with us since June 2010, and has a wealth of knowledge having worked in the local industry for nearly fifteen years.