Vale Geoff Schahinger

By Sonya Logan

Geoff Schahinger, the former owner of Adelaide-based cooperage C.A. Schahinger Pty Ltd, has died aged 90.

Joining the business established by and named after his father Carl as an apprentice cooper in 1949, Geoff obtained a certificate in cabinetmaking in the absence of classes for coopers.

He managed the business from 1959 to 1998 before becoming chairman of the board and winding back his involvement with the day-to-day conduct of the business. Shortly before selling the business to the French group Sabaté-Diosos in 2005, C.A. Schahinger employed 28 people and had an annual turnover in excess of $7 million.

“We made casks of various sizes for the wine and spirit industries, and we made vats … for the same industries, the largest being about 100,000 litres,” Geoff recalled in a personal memoir given to Winetitles Media by the family. “At the time of my father’s death [1958], an order from outside South Australia was something special. We expanded our market and had clients in every state of Australia.

“We exported, not in large quantities, to Pakistan, South Korea, New Zealand, Central and South America, South Africa and even once to Scotland for whiskey.”

A young Geoff Schahinger sitting on top of the Centenary Barrel made for Yalumba.


Geoff Schahinger travelled extensively servicing clients and visiting suppliers in Europe and the United States.

“Visiting all of these clients involved a lot of travelling, and I have always enjoyed travelling. As the wine industry grew here and demand increased, sourcing the unique timbers that they needed, true oaks, became important so this involved visiting potential specialist suppliers in the United States and France but also exploring for possible suppliers in such places as Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Serbia and Croatia,” Geoff wrote in his memoir.

In the early 1990s, Geoff co-authored a book on the subject of cooperage with former principal wine scientist at the Australian Wine Research Institute and head of the School of Viticulture and Oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural College Bryce Rankine. Published by Ryan Publications, now owned by Winetitles Media, the book was titled, ‘Cooperage for Winemakers: A manual on the construction, maintenance and use of oak barrels’.

“There were no textbooks on the handling and care of cooperage, so in 1992 I, together with a wine scientist friend, wrote a book which attempted to answer the many questions I would get asked by winemakers as I travelled around,” Geoff recalled. The book was reprinted several times before being revised in 2005.

Geoff was an inaugural member of the Wine Industry Suppliers Association committee and served as the second chair of the committee.

Geoff Schahinger with his grandsons Tarquin (left) and Alex on Christmas Day 2022.


“I have been fortunate to have been close to the wine industry, particularly the Australian Industry, for almost all of my life and seen it grow and develop, particularly in the 1980s and ‘90s and also, of course, to have known many of the interesting personalities of that industry,” Geoff said in his memoir.

He is survived by his daughters Cathy and Alison, his son Charles and his wife Sonia, and grandsons Alex and Tarquin.

His funeral will be held on 2 June 2023 at 11:30am at The Heysen Room at the Centennial Park Cemetery. A live stream will also be for those unable to make it in person.


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