Colonel William Light, South Australia's First Surveyor-General and Adelaide’s far-sighted planner, discovered the Barossa Valley in 1837. He named it "Barossa" because it reminded him of the country in Spain where he had fought a hard campaign during the Peninsula Wars against Napoleon. It soon became known as the Barossa Valley.
In 1840, George Fife Angas, a British merchant banker, landowner and philanthropist, bought 24,000 acres (10,900 hectares) in the Barossa Valley and he sold 2,000 of these acres to 25 Prussian Lutheran families. Led by Pastor Kavel, these families had come to Australia seeking freedom to worship in the Lutheran Church, a right denied them by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia.
These early Lutheran settlers were devout, thrifty, hard working and frugal, characteristics that are still reflected in the Barossa culture today. Today, Lutheran churches are still in evidence, and use, throughout the region.
Early English settlers in the same period tended to take up land in the Barossa Ranges which was predominantly pastoral. The German-speaking Lutherans dominated the Valley floor with their smaller holdings of the more fertile land.
The early settlers were mixed farmers as they preferred to spread the agricultural risk. They tended orchards and vegetable gardens as well as grazing sheep and cattle and cropping cereals.
It is generally accepted that the first vines were planted in either 1841 by Joseph Gilbert on his Pewsey Vale property (in what is now the Eden Valley) or in 1842 by brothers Ferdinand and Marno Aldenhoven at Bethany on the Valley Floor. It is generally presumed that the stock came from the original Busby collection.
Vineyard expansion, pushed along by famous wine pioneers such as Smith, Gramp, Seppelt and Salter continued throughout the late 1840s onward. Barossa Wines were being exhibited at the Tanunda and Angaston Agricultural shows as early as the 1850s.
From these early foundations, the wine industry flourished, so that today the growing of grapes and the making of wine is the predominant pre-occupation of the Barossa. Many of Australia’s major wine companies have a strong Barossa presence.
Today, the Barossa is the beating heart of Australia’s wine industry. But the Barossa is so much more than wine. The Barossa’s beautiful landscapes, its strong sense of community, its distinctive architecture, its strong culinary traditions and its vibrant cultural life all combine to make it one of the great cultural tourism destinations of the world.