Johann Gottlieb Schrapel and his family arrived in South Australia from Silesia on the George Washington in 1844. South Australia had been settled only eight years earlier. They made their way to Bethany ( the Barossa Valley’s earliest settlement) by ox and cart. They established a home and developed their property for grazing and growing crops. The Schrapels planted their first vineyard in 1852 from cuttings that were carefully freighted from Europe.
The Bethany vineyards are situated in the foothills of the Barossa Ranges and take advantage of the unique microclimate of the location which is cooler than that of the valley floor.
A wine cellar was constructed but the family concentrated on grape growing rather than winemaking for four generations. In 1981 the fifth generation of Schrapels (brothers Geoff and Robert) established Bethany Wines in a quarry where early pioneers had mined rock for their homes.
Grapes are taken to the highest point in the winery for crushing and gravity flow allows gentle transfer to the tanks for fermentation. For the white wines the aim is to retain the fresh, vibrant fruit flavours of citrus and lime and the delicate floral characters that are formed in the high, cool vines.
Today, for the first time in its 160 years in the Valley the Schrapel family has appointed a winemaker from outside . Alex MacClelland has taken over as chief winemaker and is continuing the tradition of making top class wines from their vines, nearly 600 meters above sea level.
The family philosophy is to live well, provide for their children, care for the land and hand the winery and vineyards to the next generation in better shape than when they started.
Cordon pruning leaves permanent horizontal extension of the trunk in place year after year. Cordons can be decades old and achieve diameters of several inches. The cordons themselves do not generally produce fruitful shoots. The fruitful shoots come from spur positions located along the cordon. These spur positions normally support one cane that is pruned short, usually to two buds. This short cane is called a spur. Spurs are typically a few inches long.
The 2015 Bethany riesling, made from low yielding vines, cordon pruned , and handpicked. It demonstrates typical floral flavours, excellent acidity and a long crisp finish. Halliday gave it 91 points and it really is a well crafted wine.
Tradition is king!