The imposing Seppelt’s Winery at Seppeltsfield was established in the 1850s. However, there is more to the Seppelt story than fine wine.
Benno Seppelt participated in the 1875 Adelaide Wine Show with several entries of bottled ‘spirits’ but was not yet exploring the ‘wine’ category.
Benno also had ten entries in the ‘bitters’ section.
Bitters were based on alcohol with bitter plant extracts, used to promote appetite and digestion.
Unfortunately, Benno was not awarded any prizes for his spirits or bitters, but his entries in the cordial section did exceedingly well.
Seppelt’s Raspberry Vinegar took first place, followed in second and third place with their Peppermint Syrup and Ginger Wine – yes, these were all cordial flavours!
Benno won a total of six pounds in prize money.
Out of his nine other cordial entries, Seppelt’s Lime Juice, Limetta, Ginger and Pineapple cordials received commendations from the judges.
It seems Seppelt’s early production was mainly spirits, bitters and cordials.
‘Seppeltsfield’ raspberry cordial is still being made on site. One of its key ingredients is vinegar, which is another part of the Seppelt story.
Vinegar traditionally starts from white wine, which is processed into vinegar containing about 4.5% acetic acid content.
Seppelt’s had plenty of wine, and there was ample demand for vinegar in the Barossa.
Vinegar was an important ingredient in traditional German/Silesian recipes such as Gurkensalat (cucumber salad) and Dampfkraut (steamed cabbage).
Seppelt’s promoted the use of their Wine Vinegar in various recipes for pickles, sauces, chutneys and salads.
Recipe booklets illustrate the different styles of vinegar bottles used.
Pottery wine jars were initially used to hold vinegar.
Later using glass bottles embossed with grapes and vine leaves which were fashionable for decades, with plastic bottles also making an appearance.
Ceramic labelled glass bottles from the 1960s and 70s, featuring a white vine leaf emblazoned with ‘Seppelts Vinegar’ in red text are particularly memorable.
‘Sour’ vinegar and fine wines do not complement each other when marketing premium wines.
The vinegar name was later changed from ‘Seppelts Vinegar’ to ‘Vine Valley’, a brand that is still available and features the familiar white vine leaf.
Seppelt’s had a winery building on Railway Terrace in Nuriootpa, which, after alterations, opened as the Seppelt’s Citrus Factory in June, 1943.
It was created as a wartime secondary industry where citrus including lemons, oranges and grapefruit were processed.
Canned citrus juice and bottled citrus cordial were sent to Australian and American fighting forces as a source of vitamin C.
An obvious byproduct of this industry was citrus peel processed by Seppelts.
Packed in colourful packets and tubs, the peel was used in baking recipes such as ‘rich fruit cake’.
The large factory was also used for dances and events including the 1951 Vintage Festival Supper Party, which attracted over 2,000 guests.
The Seppeltsfield precinct is now a popular tourist area, and a lasting reminder of ‘B Seppelt & Sons Limited’, a very successful Barossa enterprise.