Seppeltsfield, one of Australia’s premier wine estates, underwent a major renovation in 2014.
The project is a seamless example of what can emerge out of the synergy of design, wine, food and craft, enabled by a strong vision from Seppeltsfield’s owners and careful collaborations with firms such as Grieve Gillett Dimitty Andersen and Max Pritchard Architects. Over 18 months, Seppeltsfield’s stables building and bottling cellar were transformed and now house the winery’s new cellar door, Fino restaurant and JamFactory’s gallery and workshops.
Warren Randall, managing director and proprietor of Seppeltsfield, described the wine estate as “a grand old dame in need of some love and care”. The property, including many of the buildings on site, had been left to ruin since the 1960s. This made it a difficult task to imagine some of the 12 neglected heritage–listed buildings that sprawl across the landholding. It was a task put to Steve Grieve and Max Pritchard, both engaged at different times, to restore what Randall believes is Australia’s premium wine estate. The addition of JamFactory’s first satellite gallery and regional workshops took cues from former Thinker–in–Residence Laura Lee’s idea of an ‘artisan’s village’.
The old stables were sensitively refurbished and now house collections of work from many of the JamFactory’s artists and creative associates. JamFactory CEO Brian Parkes says that he and the JamFactory board already identified value in the non–for–profit design institution to expand their regional engagement.
“At the time we thought that might involve outreach programs and workshops to grow and engage new audiences but when the opportunity came via Seppeltsfield to dream bigger we jumped at the chance,” he says.
“And a little over two years later the Premier was cutting the ribbon at the opening.” Fino owners David Swain and Sharon Romeo were invited to open a second restaurant on the estate, having already established a very successful eatery in Willunga. Seamlessly co–habiting the old bottling cellars with the cellar door, the restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients as a basis for David Swain’s seasonal dishes.
Further to their engagement with the region through food, both Swain and Romeo were keen to work with designers on the furniture and tableware used at Fino. The restaurateurs were involved in design decisions including the most intimate details such as the curves and angles of their bowls.
One might think these food and craft offerings from JamFactory and Fino are all one Seppeltsfi eld entity (and in spirit they are) but in fact each are separate enterprises which have tenancy on the estate, a testament to how well all of the components of the site are integrated. The interaction between these elements has indeed strengthened and renewed the Seppeltsfi eld name.
I was fortunate enough to chair an event that highlighted the relationship between design and wine at Seppeltsfield, as part of the Festival of Architecture and Design (FAD) in October 2015. The event (Design Conversations: The Design of Wine) drew together the creatives involved in Seppeltsfield’s revitalisation: Brian Parkes, Max Pritchard, Steve Grieve, Sharon Romeo and Chad Elson (Seppeltsfield’s sales and marketing manager).
Integral to the discussion was the importance of collaboration between industries and the essential nature of craft in both the process of design and the winery’s history. This history was also at the forefront of the design process; driven by a desire to reveal the traces present in the buildings dating back to the 1850s to create a narrative.
As Steve Grieve says, “It was more about revealing a story rather than telling one”. Mutual trust between client and designer was also essential from the beginning of the project.
The result is a series of spaces that speak of the inherent connection that unfolds between wine, design and craft.