Barossa Valley winery, Seppeltsfield, best known for its 100-year-old Para Tawny (they have every vintage back to 1878) opened a wine ‘chateau’ in China on the weekend.
The project is a joint venture with China’s Minquan Jiuding Wine Company, a former state-owned wine and spirits producer now owned by a major construction company. Its most prominent brand is “1958”, the year the winery was founded.
The $75 million Chateau Seppeltsfield Minquan in Henan Province in eastern-central China, about an hour from the capital, Zhengzhou, took three years to build and is the first Chinese wine business in Australian winery as a stakeholder. Minquan County is home to around 10 million people.
Seppeltsfield’s majority owner Warren Randall, has taken a 37% stake in the project in a first for the Australian industry and the two wineries will sell their products together in the retail outlet, which tells the story of the two wineries.
Seppeltsfield was established in the Barossa Valley in 1850 by Joseph Seppelt, an emigrant of Silesia. He planned to be a tobacco farmer but wine became the family’s main focus and the family connection remained until 1985.
Warren Randall took over the business in 2007 and set about restoring the historic site.
Speaking to Business Insider from China, he said the joint venture “provides Seppeltsfield significant ‘face’ in the Chinese market place, as it reflects a brand/business willing to invest and having the capability to invest in a physical presence, rather than simply trade in the market”.
The chateau gives Seppeltsfield an operational base for storage and logistics of bulk and packaged wine in the country. Randall says it’s also “the first step to internationalise the Seppeltsfield brand” and acts as an “appetiser” for Chinese tourists to entice them to the Barossa.
He said Australian industry’s reaction to the project has been “very positive”.
“The wine industry conversation of recent years has been on interest increasing from China towards Australia in viticulture and winemaking investment – this is in the opposite direction,” he said.
“The fact Seppeltsfield is willing to invest in a footprint in China should provide positive spinoffs to the broader Australian wine category, as general awareness of Australia as a leading wine producing country is increased.”
Here are some photos of Chateau Seppeltsfield Minquan.