Historic Seppeltsfield- A New Lease on Life
We are now heading into serious wines season here in South Australia, with an extensive list of wine and food festivals poised to begin and summer holidays providing all the excuse many of us need to sample the splendid fruits of our local winemakers. Just in time for all of this merriment Seppeltsfield, one of the most iconic names in Australian wine, has unveiled their stunning new Cellar Door project. I was one of the lucky ones to attend the launch of this historic facelift, which was officially opened by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill in November and which includes an exciting new venture for David Swain and Sharon Romeo of the highly-awarded Willunga restaurant Fino – Fino At Seppeltsfield.
South Australia’s Barossa Valley is one of the world’s best wine producing regions. It is also one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and historic Seppeltsfield is one of the oldest wineries in the region. Unlike wine many regions elsewhere in Australia whose wine industries were influenced by the British, the Barossa’s wine history was determined by the German settlers from Silesia who were offered refuge by the South Australian Company in 1841. The Seppelt family settled in the Barossa in 1851, planting vines and encouraging their neighbours to do the same. They produced their first vintage in the family dairy, but by the late 1860’s a proper winery was well under way.
By the 1960’s Seppeltsfield was a major tourism destination with bus loads of pleasure seekers pulling up in front of the cellar door in search of the Barossa liquid magic, but age had taken it’s toll on this very grand lady. The imposing old buildings were tired and the space was much in need of a sympathetic make-over. Spear-headed by Seppeltsfield Managing Director, Warren Randall, this fabulous facelift includes the terraced courtyard, a result of a removal of 2500 tonnes of earth, which hosted the opening’s official proceedings. With the design led by landscape architect Brenton Hann, seven Canary Island palm tree transplants, bluestone terraces, sandstone promenades and a large water feature have been sympathetically added to the surroundings, making for a dramatic sense of arrival to the estate. Details also include Romanesque-inspired walling (matched to established Seppeltsfield architecture) and the use of original Mintaro slate from the old winery throughout.
Seppeltsfield is famed for it’s rare Centennial Collection, the world’s oldest and only range of consecutive vintage tawny port spanning over 130 years. They are the only winery in the world to release a 100 year old, single vintage wine every year and also produce a range of small batch table wines which can be tried in the world-class tasting room designed by renowned architect Max Pritchard.
Considered a coup for the Barossa’s burgeoning culinary scene is FINO At Seppeltsfield. David Swain and Sharon Romeo will continue to concentrate on progressive regional cuisine along with head chef, Sam Smith, who has been guided by David Swain closely – the pair already forming a number of Barossa produce relationships including the Angas family’s Hutton Vale Lamb and SchuAm Berkshire Pork of Freeling.
It seems to me the smile is definitely back on the face of the Barossa’s grand old lady with this marvellous redevelopment. Coupled with the facelift, the partnership with Fino is inspired, making Seppeltsfield the region’s most anticipated dining and hospitality experience, one of the most significant gastronomic tourism endeavours we’ve seen in some time and yet another reason to make your way up to the Barossa Valley very soon.
All images in this post were photographed by Lambs’ Ears and Honey, with the exception of the aerial image at top and the image of David Swain & Sharon Romeo which were kindly supplied by Seppeltsfield.