Forking grapes Rusden winter vines
Christian and his dog Golden Vines
Rusden vineyard in fog Pumpovers
Wine barrel store The Rusden winery

About Us - People Involved

Without the talented and hard-working people who create our wines and maintain our vineyards, Rusden Wines would not be where it is today.

Christine Canute

Vigneron & Matriarch

Chris CanuteChris grew up on a vineyard property only “a stone’s throw” from the Rusden vineyard. Her family has grown grapes in the Valley for generations. Most weekends and holidays were spent ‘helping out’ on the property- picking grapes, ‘pulling out,’ tractor driving, digging out weeds etc.- the types of jobs that all kids on the land were expected to do ‘back then.’

Well not much has changed now that she (and husband Dennis) have their own patch of vineyard- 40 acres in the heart of the Barossa, acquired in 1979. Chris is vineyard overseer/operator/worker, and caterer, mum and nanna, and trying to work herself into a ‘management’ position. Her modest approach is: “If a job is once begun, never leave it till its done, be the labour great or small, do it well or not at all” (a poem often quoted by Chris’ father as they worked).

Dennis Canute

General Manager, Exports, Quality Control and Chief Sampler

Dennis CanuteDennis was born and raised in the Copper Triangle on the Yorke Peninsula. He became a teacher and while teaching on Kangaroo Island, met Chris, also a teacher. In the late 1970’s he became restless and as a result, purchased 40 acres of run down but redeemable vineyard at Vine Vale.

To finance the business during the times of low grape prices, Dennis kept teaching, sending his wife out into the vineyard to hone the skills developed in her youth. In 1995 Dennis became fully employed in the vineyard. Now he manages an expanding winery business, with lots of input from his wife and son, Christian.

Christian Canute

Winemaker and Wildman

Christian CanuteHaving grown up on the vineyard among a family of vignerons and Barossa folk, it was probably in Christian’s blood to end up in the industry in one form or another. The first opportunity to work in the wine side of the industry was in 1996 at Melbourne Street Wine Cellars, under the wing of John Swanson. That year Christian got to try almost every wine made in Australia and plenty of imports. Most of the other people at the shop liked the safer, big company reds, but John, knowing Christian was a Barossa boy, showed him the wines that are still among his favourites today- Stonewell, Old Block and Yarra Yering to name just a few. But his most cherished drop was Rockford Basket Press Shiraz.

After a year in the ‘big smoke’ the country boy got home sick and returned to the “Land of the Box” (something to do with the German heritage in the Barossa and the shape of their heads), only to end up working in the Barossa’s holy of holies- the cellar at Rockford. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. That year Christian discovered the bounty of Barossa fruit, in particular that grown in and around the Vine Vale district. With his Mum and Dad’s hands on 40 acres in that area, the rest is pretty much history. A crusher, basket press and fermenters soon rocked up and created a small, working winery, and the old vines became the gems of the vineyard. Christian is married to Amy Loechel, together raising four beautiful children, Cadell, Amalia, Louis and Grace.

Hayley Semmler (nee Canute)

Accounts, Book Keeping and Administration

Hayley Semmler


Hayley is most likely to be who you will talk to on the phone if you call the winery. She manages our accounts, keeps our books (and all of us) in order and makes bloody good coffee. Hayley is our creative hand in our business also, designing our sales and advertising paraphernalia such as invitations/menus for our dinners, newsletters, and our materials we use when on the road. She is Dennis and Chris’s daughter and Christian’s sister.

Craig Phillips

Sales & Marketing, PR, Cellar hand and true Gentleman
Craig Phillips

In 2009, Craig joined the Rusden team, with some useful experience behind him, having previously worked in Adelaide as a Sommelier/Wine Buyer for the Trim Hospitality Group and as part of the retail team at East End Cellars, and also holding a Wine Marketing Degree. He has a passion for all thing vinous and has relished the opportunity to work in a “hands on” environment at the winery.

Craig is responsible for connecting with our restaurant customers all over Australia and making sure they get to try every new vintage at least once a year. There’s also a good chance you’ll meet him in cellar door conducting a tasting when you visit the winery. Any spare time Craig has, he is helping Christian out in the winery. For as long as he has been at Rusden, Craig has been part of every vintage. In that way he knows our wines intimately, because he has physically had a hand in the journey of each wine we bottle.

Amy Loechel (Canute)

Artist, Bogan and Bushvine Master

Amy Loechel (Canute)Amy hails from the “dark” (western) side of the Valley. She is responsible for the striking artwork on our labels and her larger drawings and paintings that hang from the walls in the Den reflect life from a Barossa viewpoint. Amy has also supplied art work for Quay Restaurant’s highly awarded wine list and winemaker Chris Ringland’s Randall’s Hill in 1995 and 1997. Amy is an active member and supporter of Trees for Life- her work is evident in replanting native bush in and around Rusden and her and Christian’s home. She actively seeks ways in which Rusden can reduce its imprint on the environment through waste management and recycling systems. In the vineyard, Amy is the Bushvine master. She lovingly tends to the bushvine Mataro which produces the fruit responsible for one of Christian’s favourite wines, the Full Circle Mataro.