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  • Customer Profile - Andrew Young

Customer Profile - Andrew Young

Driving down the road to the Seppeltsfield Winery, I stop the car at the crest of the hill and gaze out over the vineyards. The view is incredibly beautiful. It's raining and autumn has turned the leaves on the vines to a rusty yellow colour and the whole valley looks bathed in gold.

The reason for my visit to the Barossa Valley is to meet and spend the day with Andrew Young - one of Australia’s only traditional coopers. As the day unfolds I find out that his story is as much a part of the Barossa as the vines themselves.

Coopering is the ancient trade of making staved wooden barrels to store and transport all kinds of foodstuffs, grain or more commonly these days, wine or spirits - it’s considered one of the dying trades.

Andrew Young, is the image of a traditional craftsman in his leather apron. He is full of infectious enthusiasm for his trade and the world of winemaking as he scoops me up and leads me around the grounds of this historic site. He is extremely proud to be operating his cooperage business from the Seppeltsfield Winery - a place that’s undergoing a renaissance after several years in the wilderness where it was operated more as a museum than a working winery.

Under the guidance of new Managing Director Warren Randall, Seppeltsfield is being revived. Whilst Warren is mindful of 160 years of history and is keen to preserve the heritage value of the estate, he has put together a creative team with the energy and enthusiasm to bring something new to the wine industry. It’s his intention to build an environment where the old crafts sit comfortably beside technology and innovation.

I’m introduced to several of the team and treated to a fantastic lunch of local produce and handmade chocolates by RiChocolate, the resident chocolatier and barista. I then have the amazing experience of tasting a Tawny Port from the year of my birth. Andrew leads me to the Centenary Cellar, it houses the longest lineage of single vintage wines in the world from 1878- 2010. There is a barrel from every year here. This is perhaps the most beautiful room I have ever entered. A time machine stretches out before me as I gaze at the dates on the end of the casks and wander between them.

The exotic aroma of aged oak and fortified wine fills my senses and I find the beauty of this place quite moving. Andrew loves it here too. I can see it’s a source of inspiration for him. He tells me later that he sometimes comes and stands at the small window by the first cask to be laid down in 1878. Everything his trade exists for is in this room.

Andrew Young was born in the Barossa and grew up there. His father owned a vineyard and grew grapes for Penfolds. As a child Andrew was always interested in woodwork and would hang around the cooperage harassing the tradesmen and wanting to be involved. He describes how one day in 1976 he was summoned to the office. He assumed he was in trouble because his father was there when he arrived. You can imagine his delight when he was presented with indenture papers to be apprenticed as a cooper.