On your next visit to Seppeltsfield Road, take a step back in time and be intrigued by the rich family history that all began in 1850, only 15 years after European settlement in South Australia.
The striking structure that is the Seppelt’s family mausoleum was built in 1927.
It stands tall as an inspiring and touching tribute to the family who established one of Australia’s oldest wine estates and played such a pivotal part in this region’s history.
Perched atop a quartzite ridge, use your vantage point to survey sweeping vineyards as well as the grand buildings of Seppeltsfield and reflect on what was created by generations of ambitious and energetic Barossa pioneers.
Whether you are a wine history boffin, a patriotic South Australian or are just looking to immerse yourself in the rich ancestral culture that created this iconic stretch of road, it makes for an unusual, yet fascinating addition to your weekend in the beautiful Barossa Valley.
How did Seppeltsfield begin?
Now widely regarded to be one of Australia’s most successful wine dynasties, the Seppelt family story began all the way back in 1849, after Prussian emigrant Joseph Ernst Seppelt left his tobacco, snuff and liqueur factory with his wife Johanna, children, factory workers and 13 other local families.
Joseph purchased 158 acres of land in 1850 at £1 an acre and after designating it ‘Seppeltsfield’, his original plan was to farm tobacco.
Imagine for a moment how different the story could be if this original intention endured!
The first vines were planted and soon enough, wine was being sold in nearby Gawler and sent on paddles teamers to ply the Riverland.
At Joseph’s insistence, high standards were set for their wine production, the construction of a fine cellar was completed in 1867 and just one year later, the founder died suddenly in 1868.
Seppeltsfield became Australia’s largest winery
Upon Joseph’s death, eldest son Oscar Benno Pedro used his ambitious and industrious nature to expand the business and maintain the family’s high standards for winemaking.
His wife Sophie also contributed significantly to the running of the establishment, and in addition, gave birth 16 times over the period 1872 to 1891 with 13 children reaching adulthood!
Business grew rapidly in the late 1800s and continued to flourish into the 20 century, feeding demand from England for wines and spirits out of ’imperial preference’, as well as the supply of medicinal Brandy to Australian hospitals.
At the height of its activity in the 1890s, the wine company of B. Seppelt & Sons was the largest in Australia.
“…Seppeltsfield is a wonderful place, and is a great example of what can be accomplished by well-directed industry and enterprise. It has often been alluded to as the show place of Australia, and deserves the title, as for the magnitude of the works and the quantity and quality of wines, spirits, and vinegars produced, it is unequalled in Australasia…”
Generosity and hospitality flowed in abundance
From the moment they arrived, the Seppelt family became renowned for their strong bond with their employees and the wider community.
Sophie Seppelt was responsible for feeding visiting dignitaries and officials from the dining room, where she and her cooks also provided up to 100 workers with breakfast and dinner every day – baking their own bread, roasting meat and using produce from the Seppelt farm and gardens.
During the time of the Great Depression was when the now iconic avenue of 2,000 Canary Island Date Palms was propagated on site and established. The story goes that the 5km trail was planted during this challenging era to provide work for their employees and feed their families.
The Seppelt family members are also credited for inaugurating the Barossa Vintage Festival – still a quintessential part of this wine region’s culture and calendar today.
Generations laid to rest here
Whilst the Seppeltsfield estate was established by Joseph and Johanna Seppelt, it was the second generation who were first interned at this historic site.
We are led to believe that Sophie Seppelt, who died in 1925, was first buried at Greenock and then exhumed to be laid to rest in the impressive mausoleum when it was finished in 1927!
A visit to the Doric style family mausoleum can give you the opportunity to contemplate the enormous impact the Seppelt family has had since 1850 when their fine winemaking endeavour began.
Perhaps you will also create your own story or two of what you think life was like to be a family member or one of their many employees as they forged what is now one of the most important pieces of Barossa Valley history.
How to get there
While the mausoleum itself is private property held by the Seppelt Family and no longer allows visitors entry inside – you are welcome to admire the exterior of this impressive monument as well as the gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape at any time of the day.
You will find the carpark on Seppeltsfield Road and we ask that you please take care crossing the road and walking up the steep flight path to the mausoleum.
Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram with #seppeltsfieldroad. We love seeing what has intrigued you about your time on Seppeltsfield Road.
- Sophie Helene Henriette (Benno’s Wife ) 1852-1925
- Oscar Benno Pedro 1846-1931
- Camillo Pedro 1877-1935
- Selma Melitta 1880-1940
- Amy Katherine (Tuisko Turso’s Wife) 1891-1940
- Leo Renato 1883-1942
- Elizabeth Julia (Roberts Daughter) 1943-1943
- Helen Gertrude (Udo’s Wife) 1883-1953
- Hedwic Cecilia (Oscar’s Wife) 1868-1955
- Tuisko Turso 1891-1957
- Maltilda (Xaver’s Wife) 1884-1962
- Clara Blanca 1876-1963
- Xaver Arno 1882-1963
- Oscar Benno 1873-1963
- Udo Waldemar 1879-1964
- Audrey Vera (Leo’s Wife) 1884-1966
- Victoria Maud (Norbert’s Wife) 1898-1967
- Winifred (Camillo’s Wife) 1895-1970
- Ian Howe (Udo’s son) 1909-1973
- Joseph Gerold 1888-1974
- Norbert Erno 1887-1970
- Julie Mary (Roberts Wife) 1922-1984
- Helene Mary Finlay (Xaver’s Daughter) 1919-1986
- Eileen May (Ian’s Wife) 1908-1991
- Robert Leo (Leo Renato’s Son) 1916-1991
- Gwenyth Audrey (Leo Renato’s Daughter) 1909-1997
- Hilton Mervyn (Bill) (Tuisko Turso’s Son) 1915-1998
- John Rothwell (Leo Renato’s Son) 1913-2001
- Colin Percival Juttner (Patricia’s Husband) 1910-2003
- Patricia Stokes Juttner (Camillo’s Daughter) 1913-2004
- Anthony Johnson (John’s Son) 1957-2008
- Helen Ann Finlay (Xavier’s Granddaughter) 1946-2012
- Edna Florence Seppelt (Hilton’s Wife) 1918-2012
- Elizabeth Anne (John’s Wife) 1924-2013