Originating from the name of the Barossa Valley’s main river, ‘Para’ has remained resolute within Australian wine culture for over 11 decades. Featuring on numerous fortified releases over the course of time, it has crossed three ownership eras; B Seppelt & Sons, Treasury Wine Estates and modern day Seppeltsfield, with Tawny bottlings featuring the insignia being traced back to the beginning of the 20th century.
It remains today Australia’s longest standing wine label in continual production.
Over 400 release variants featuring the ‘Para’ brand have been discovered as part of archival research undertaken by Seppeltsfield.
First trademarked in 1923, the existence of ‘Para’ has now been traced back even earlier, with releases in Australian circulation between 1902-1918. These earliest of releases during the era of B Seppelt & Sons included ‘old’, ‘medicinal’, ‘Barossa’, ‘family’, ‘red’ and ‘white’ Para labellings. These first incarnations of Para were followed by ‘royal purple’, ‘purple’, ‘imperial reserve’ and ‘invalid’ bottlings 1920-1940.
Perhaps the most notable, the 100 Year Old Para Vintage Tawny, was first released in 1978 (from the 1878 vintage), however bottlings of ‘Para Liqueur’ – recognisable by its iconic bell-shaped bottle – first emerged in 1953. The first vintage released – labelled as 1922 – was in celebration of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
The 1922 release was followed by 1925, 1927, 1930, 1933, 1939, 1944 & 1947. The vintage date on these first Para Liqueur releases however related to the oldest component of the Tawny blend, meaning that the wine was not singularly from the year depicted on the label. In the mid-1970s, due to a change of labelling legislation, these Para Liqueur bottlings evolved to known as the ‘Number Series’, 26 released in total, 101 – 126.
Today, Seppeltsfield maintains the legacy of Para through releases of blended and single vintage Tawny expressions. These include Grand, Rare and 21 Year Old bottlings, as well as vintage dated Para Liqueur and the entire Centennial Collection – dating back to 1878. Prior to 2012, the only wine released from the Seppeltsfield Centennial Collection was the annual 100 Year Old Para Vintage Tawny. After 2012, the Seppeltsfield Centennial Cellar was liberated, to allow the release of a wider span of vintages in limited quantities each year.
Para is an indigenous Australian term, commonly translatable to ‘river’ or ‘water’. The Barossa region is bordered by the North and South Para Rivers, which rises from the ranges near Eden Valley and flows South-West through the Barossa Valley, passing through the townships of Nuriootpa and Tanunda. Several estuaries branch off of the Para River catchment, including Jacob’s Creek and Greenock Creek – the later meandering directly through the Seppeltsfield estate.
Whilst many variations now exist, for generations of wine enthusiasts, Para would be recalled for its distinctive bell-shaped glass bottle packaging. The bell, or pot-bellied shape is said to have taken inspiration from the European ‘Bocksbeutel’ bottle type.
The bell shaped bottle is now exclusively used for our annual Para Liqueur bottling.
Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine is the paramount form guide to Australia’s finest wines. Entry into the Classification is based on a wine’s reputation and track record at auction. First released in 1990 and revised every five years, the current edition – Langton’s Classification VI – includes just 139 wines, across three category levels of Exceptional, Outstanding and Excellent.
Para Tawny is represented twice in Langton’s Classification VI: