Johann Gottlob Schrapel and his family arrived in South Australia from Silesia on the ship “George Washington” in 1844, just eight years after the colony was settled.
Like many of their fellow Germanic migrants they made their way by ox cart to Bethany, the Barossa Valley’s first settlement, where they established a home and cleared the land to grow crops and graze animals. The Schrapels planted their first vineyard in 1852 from cuttings carefully nursed from Europe. A wine cellar was also built, but despite Johann’s reputation as an early colonial winemaker, the family concentrated on grape growing rather than winemaking for the next four generations.
More than a century later in 1981, Johann’s fifth generation descendants, brothers Geoff and Robert Schrapel, established Bethany Wines in a quarry, where the pioneers had hewn stone for their homes, high in the Barossa Ranges overlooking the family’s vineyards and the historic village of Bethany.
The early 1980s were tough times for Barossa grape growers. A red wine boom was followed by a glut and, as grape prices fell below production cost, the State Government encouraged growers to pull out their old Shiraz and Grenache vines. Instead, the Schrapels chose to establish a tradition of winemaking from this undervalued yet irreplaceable resource of old vineyards.
Today, Bethany Wines remains proudly family owned with the fifth and sixth generation of the family working in the business.