Barossa winery owner threatens to take proposed $50m hotel elsewhere if it’s not approved

The Barossa Valley could miss out on a whopping six-star, 12-storey hotel at one of its famous wineries if a court case doesn’t go the way of developers.

Locals, including the Barossa Council, have expressed concerns over the building of the proposed Oscar hotel at Seppeltsfield winery, which is earmarked to open in 2022.

Nicknamed “The Slug” by its adversaries, the development has sparked outrage and been accused of “vandalising” the area’s natural beauty and stripping the Barossa of its status as Australia’s best wine region, according to The Advertiser.

The fate of the newbuild will be decided later this month following an appeal lodged with the Environment Resources and Development Court (ERD) over whether immediate neighbours or the entire state would be allowed to object to the build.

Seppeltsfield owner Warren Randall told The Advertiser that if the case goes against the developers, he will take the project elsewhere in South Australia.

“If the Barossa says ‘no’ to the Oscar, I will simply take it to another wine district and the Barossa will miss out,’’ he said.

“The Oscar could be like the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Sydney Opera House that brings international and interstate tourists to South Australia to see the building.’’

Members of the Barossa Region Residents’ Association, Eva Tscharke and James Lindner, told The Advertiser that although they have no problem with a luxury hotel being built in the region, they believe Oscar is the wrong decision.

“It’s the Barossa that’s the showpiece – the vines, the natural beauty – not buildings,’’ Tscharke said.

“I have nothing but admiration and respect for how the heart of Seppeltsfield has been rejuvenated and restored.

“Sadly, this building does not fit in with the atmosphere and character of the area.

“Seppeltsfield belongs to all the Barossa because is very much part of our history. This is an alien in our landscape.’’

Named after wine innovator Oscar Benno Sepelt, the hotel would make Seppeltsfield one of the world’s top five wineries, and create a national icon for South Australia, according to an announcement by developers and the winery’s owner in April last year.

Among the fixtures of the property will be around 70 rooms, including suites and penthouses, with a private balcony for every room, and a sky bar on the top level with 360-degree views of the Barossa Valley.

The hotel is expected to create an additional 363 construction jobs and 350 ongoing jobs for the region once operational.