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Luxury hotel tower to rise amid Seppeltsfield vineyard

Construction of The Oscar Seppeltsfield, a $50m modernist 12-storey, 71-room hotel tower in the heart of the historic Seppeltsfield vineyard in South Australia will commence this year, creating what its owner believes will become ‘a Sydney Opera House for the Barossa’.

Seppeltsfield proprietor and executive chairman Warren Randall said The Oscar Seppeltsfield luxury hotel and accompanying restaurant will be an icon of global importance for South Australia’s wine industry and will become ‘the most desirable epicurean destination for tourists worldwide’.

Approval for construction of The Oscar Seppeltsfield was granted by the local Light Regional Council on 1 June, after a heated two-year dispute about the development.

The original application to build The Oscar Seppeltsfield was lodged on 16 April 2020, but public consultation with surrounding neighbours in July 2020 led to a legal challenge against the plan. The South Australian Environment, Resources and Development Court dismissed an appeal against the project last year, but a Barossa action group filed a court action to get the project – which had been categorised as ‘tourist accommodation’ – classified under a different category to allow for greater community consultation.

After further consultation, a revised development application was submitted to Light Regional Council in February 2022, with the hotel location moved 10m lower down a gully within the Seppeltsfield vineyard, to be less obtrusive in the landscape. It means that people in the neighbouring village of Greenock will not see the hotel – although it may be seen along parts of the palm-lined Seppeltsfield Road area that passes the main Seppeltsfield Winery entrance.

The hotel site will cover four hectares of Seppeltsfield, with some bush Grenache vines being removed and replanted to replace dead old vines in existing vineyard, but a patch of Palamino Fino will be grubbed and Seppeltsfield will cease its fortified Fino production.

Randall has spearheaded an extravagant revitalisation of the property since 2009, when he purchased a majority shareholding in the historic Seppeltsfield vineyard and winery, established in 1841, and has since spent an estimated $12m on reviving the heritage-listed winery buildings.

However, Randall has embraced a very different vision for the new hotel. Having proudly called Seppeltsfield ‘the jewel of the Barossa’, Randall has moved far from the sturdy bluestone buildings of historic Seppeltsfield to introduce a futuristic flavour to the new hotel, which appears in architectural drawings as a shining metal and glass cylindrical tower that rises sharply from the vineyard.

Its modernist style offers a nod to the radical Frank Gehry-designed Marques de Riscal winery in Elciego, northern Spain, which includes a 43-room five-star hotel and restaurant within its functioning winery buildings.

‘I wanted to create a modern architectural icon with this new hotel,’ Randall said. ‘I wouldn’t be comfortable building a 19th century structure. That would be blatant copying of what had already been done, and I want this new building to be original, dazzling.

‘I really don’t mind that the design will create discussion and dissention. It will bring people from around the world to see it.’

The project is being funded by a group of South Australian businessmen, who predict that the Oscar Seppeltsfield will attract new visitors to the region and bring an additional $A90m in tourism expenditure within its first five years of operation.

All of the hotel’s 71 rooms, suites and penthouses will feature private balconies, while a viewing deck on the top level will provide 360-degree views of the surrounding vineyards (the original intention to feature a skybar was removed from the amended plan). The hotel will also include a wellness day spa, an infinity pool, a world-class restaurant, private dining room and boardroom, and a helipad.

Project director Toby Yap says a tender process has now commenced to choose a luxury hotel operator, with a view to start building the first six-star resort and spa in an Australian wine region before the end of 2022. It is expected to open after two years of construction.

The developers expect The Oscar Seppeltsfield guests will interact with the neighbouring Seppeltsfield precinct, which includes the 1841 Seppeltsfield Cellar Door, the Centennial Cellar (home to the world’s longest continuous fortified vintage wine collection stored in barrel, from 1878), the 1888 Gravity Cellar (which processes 5000 tonnes of grapes each vintage), FINO restaurant, the Jam Factory Craft and Design Studios, Vasse Virgin natural beauty products salon and Fine Art Photography Gallery.

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