Breathing new life into this historic vineyard, Winemakers Charlie Seppelt and Chris Carpenter have commenced a new era of Hickinbotham’s prestigious legacy; building upon and honouring the vineyard’s acclaimed record.
“It’s a privilege to be part of the team dedicated to this special land, to create wines that speak to the world about this unique site. It's exciting. The legacy of this great vineyard will reach far beyond our lifetimes.”
Charlie Seppelt’s first introduction to the wine industry was in his teens when he laboured as a general farmhand on his Uncle Karl’s Barossa Ranges vineyard. But wine has always been a part of Charlie’s roots. After his great-great grandfather, Joseph Seppelt, founded the great Seppeltsfield Winery in the Barossa in 1851, the Seppelts’ winery went on to become the largest in Australia. Successive generations of Seppelts managed the family winery until its sale in 1985.
Charlie’s cellar work began at d’Arenberg in the 2001 vintage. He worked in Bordeaux, and returned the next year to commence his oenology degree at the University of Adelaide. During his years of study, he worked multiple harvests, including one at Torbreck, just a stone’s throw from Seppeltsfield. Charlie also worked at Wolf Blass in the Barossa, Brokenwood in the Hunter Valley, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave in the Rhône, and in Napa Valley, New Zealand and Burgundy before becoming full-time winemaker at Hardys. It was there that Charlie first worked with the wines from Hickinbotham Vineyard that was used to craft some of Hardys’ top labels.
“Having the opportunity to live on and learn from the land and the team who farm it, is always a key aspect of my winemaking approach. It’s no different here at Hickinbotham where, in concert with our vineyard manager, we farm each block to the specifics of its individual terroir. We take that attention to detail and carry it over into the winery, managing each fermentation - particularly the native ferments - to their own specifications.”
Chris Carpenter is the winemaker for some of Napa Valley’s most prestigious wineries, including Cardinale, Lokoya, La Jota and Mt. Brave. He is highly regarded for his mastery of Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the mountain vineyards throughout the Napa Valley.
Since 2012 he has travelled to Australia numerous times per year to oversee the winemaking for the Bordeaux varieties at Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard.
Chris holds a degree in biology from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and an MBA from the University of Illinois, Chicago. While there, he played big-ten football and worked at the local bars. His friends were Chicago artists and musicians; he packs his trombone when he comes to Australia.
During a visit to Napa Valley, Chris discovered a lifestyle that combined his love of the sciences with his growing passion for culinary and wine pursuits. Soon after, he began studying at UC Davis where he earned a master’s degree in both viticulture and oenology. He further studied in Italy at Tenute Antinori, Santa Cristina Estate before returning to Napa Valley to join the winemaking team at Cardinale in 1998. In 2000, Chris was appointed winemaker for Lokoya and he went on to assume that role for Cardinale, La Jota, and Mt Brave.