Seppeltsfield Wines’ acquisition of the historic Quelltaler Estate in 2017 represented a new era for the 160-year-old vineyard. Dating back to 1851, this heritage-listed vineyard is located at Watervale in the Clare Valley – country renowned for its ability to grow world class wines.
As the new custodians of Quelltaler’s grapevines, Seppeltsfield Wines were committed to developing the sustainability of the property. Onsite water security was an immediate focus as existing dams were unable to hold enough water to use to irrigate grapevines. After conducting a cost benefit analysis, HydroPlan ascertained that storing off-peak water was more economical than accessing water during summer, so dams would be required to secure the future sustainability of Quelltaler.
A design for a new 600ML dam system was then developed based on the refurbishment and reshaping of the existing dams. Considerations included the ability to efficiently fill and move water between the dams, with minimal disruption to water access for the vineyard during construction. It was also essential that the system could be operated manually during the initial stages.
In addition to the concept and detailed dam and pipeline designs, HydroPlan was retained to provide construction project management services, undertake development approval processes and design a new vineyard irrigation system. When a seam of hard rock was encountered during construction, HydroPlan’s design team was able to reshape the base of the dam to maintain storage without any loss of construction time.
Completed in 2019, the white lined dams at Quelltaler filled with aquamarine blue water provided a spectacular sight. More importantly, the dams provide the vineyard with the ability to store winter sourced water for use in summer, taking advantage of off-peak water charges. In conjunction with the new irrigation and pump system, vineyard health improved rapidly as water was delivered to the vines as needed. The new system reduces the demands on vineyard staff and improves access to peak water for small neighbouring vineyards.
For the wider community, the revitalisation of an iconic South Australian vineyard proves that heritage and sustainability can work hand-in-hand while also strengthening valuable tourism and wine industries.