A Day in the Vines at Seppeltsfield

Just an hour’s drive from the city is the stunning Barossa Valley and the sweeping Seppeltsfield Estate. Fest's commissioning editor discovers one of the oldest vineyards in the state

feature (adelaide) | Read in About 5 minutes
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Seppeltsfield
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Published 07 Feb 2019

The Seppelt family were not one to do things in halves. Migrating to South Australia from Prussia in 1849, Joseph and his wife Johanna began their journey attempting to grow tobacco in Klemzig. After consistent failure, they moved with their three children and their land workers to what is now Seppeltsfield, and created their own self-sufficient society with crops and livestock. Joseph Seppelt died of pneumonia in his mid-fifties and was succeeded by his son Benno. The buildings on the Seppeltsfield Estate, built in the late 1800s from imported goods from Adelaide and Europe, still stand and are still used today for winemaking, wine tasting and storage.

FINO is Seppeltsfield’s fine dining restaurant, set in the original bottling hall of the winery. The outdoor seating is reminiscent of the French riviera with umbrellas, vines and water features. FINO is proud to showcase local produce and keep dishes clean and simple, but never boring. Their barramundi is farmed in Robe, using water from underground aquifers resulting in a clean, delicate taste. The chicken terrine is made using chickens from the nearby Fleurieu Peninsula and decorated with local greens. A braised piece of lamb with yoghurt and freekeh salad is a highlight, as is the burnt goat’s sausage with beetroot and walnuts. Fresh gin and tonics with Adelaide-made Never Never gin set the afternoon off right.

Segway Sensation SA offer tours through the Seppeltsfield Estate – the only winery in the world offering this experience. Paul and Christian are the perfect teachers; patient, supportive and friendly. During the tour, Paul regales us with stories of the oldest vines on the Estate, a section of 120 year old Grenache vines. The change in seasons provides a drastic change in scenery over the year. In winter, the vines turn to dormant knobbled trunks, but the lawns around them spring to life. In summer, the vines are lush with leaves and the soil turns red. The tour peaks with a photo opportunity at the highest point on the Estate amongst the vines, where Paul very graciously offers to play photographer.

After an approximate eight kilometre journey, wine expert Bill leads the Taste Your Birth Year tour, including an exclusive look into the original Seppelt homestead. The second building erected on the property, the homestead is now kept in immaculate condition and is filled with original furniture donated by Joseph’s still living relatives. The dining room houses the original books brought over by Joseph and Johanna, and their intricate family bible. A 19th century piano sits unassuming in the corner, along with original silverware and egg cups.

Bill leads us from the homestead to the Barrel Room – an upstairs storage room for a very unique product. Every year since its inception in the late 19th century, Seppeltsfield wines have kept a single barrel of port from each year. Nowhere else in the world is there a historical collection of single-year ports. It is here we are asked to ‘find our year’ so we can taste the port. Straight out of the barrel, this port is smooth and sweet, and would go rather well with a cheese platter.

To replenish, it’s back to FINO for a delicate dessert of lemon sorbet, berries and pistachio nuts with another gin and tonic in the sunshine. The photo opportunities around the Estate are plentiful, and the 50 metre wander to Vasse Virgin takes nearly 10 minutes. Once inside, the smell of lavender and citrus take over, and the architecture of the old vinegar factory takes shape. Bluestone walls once covered with thick paint to prevent deterioration are now proudly on display, filled with Vasse Virgin chemical-free soaps, washes and creams. Kirsty leads us through the lower level workshop, where make-your-own-perfume and lip balm masterclasses are held. Toward the back, vinegars, olive oils, salts and dukkahs from local areas are available for tasting, and it is here that Kirsty tells ghost stories from working in the building and on the Estate, the culmination of which is the story of blood running down the walls in the Seppelt Family Mausoleum, thereby ending further ghost tours.

The Jam Factory house an exhibition space and number of workshops on the Estate, including a millinery, a jewellery workshop and Gardner Knives. On the way out, Barry Gardner spoke to us of the processes involved in knife making and the time and skill necessary to create a truly remarkable knife piece.

Without noticing, over five hours had passed and Seppeltsfield were closing for the night. Not missing the opportunity to experience our own ghost encounter, we trek to the Seppelt Family Mausoleum nestled in the side of a hill and witness some of the most breathtaking views of the valley. Seppeltsfield Estate have some of the greatest history and food any SA winery has to offer.

Thank you to Nicole, Cindy, Lauren and Bill of Seppeltsfield Estate, Paul and Christian of Segway Sensation SA, Kirsty of Vasse Virgin, Barry of Gardner Knives and all of the staff at Seppeltsfield and FINO for a wonderful day.