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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Gramp, Johann (1819–1903)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

Johann Gramp (1819-1903), vigneron, was born on 28 August 1819 at Eichigt near Kulmbach, Bavaria. He migrated from Hamburg in the Solway and arrived at Kingscote on 16 October 1837. He worked on Kangaroo Island for the South Australian Co., and in 1839-40 helped to build the company's wharf at Port Adelaide. After working in an Adelaide bakery he turned to farming at Yatala. In 1847 he moved to Jacob's Creek in the Barossa valley and planted a vineyard. In 1850 he made his first octave of wine, a type of hock later known as Carte Blanche. The pioneer vigneron in the district, he did most of the work by hand but was soon able to expand his vineyard, build a cellar and improve his equipment. He was active in the Lutheran Church and in the 1860s served on the Barossa East District Council, took his turn as chairman and among other achievements helped to provide Rowland Flat with a public school; he had been naturalized by 1872. Years of exposure and hard work affected his skin and he gradually withdrew from the business. In old age he successfully cultivated citrus fruit. On 9 August 1903 he died at his home, leaving an estate of £10,600. He was survived by his wife Eleonora, née Nitzschke, and by 3 sons, 3 married daughters, 48 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

His eldest son Gustav was born on 18 June 1850 in Adelaide and after attending the public school in Rowland Flat helped his father until 1874. On 17 April he married Louisa Koch and at Rowland Flat his father gave him forty-four acres (18 ha) which he called Orlando. There he planted vines and in 1877 transferred his father's wine business. He built large cellars at Orlando in 1886, steadily increased his acreage and added to the fermenting and storage capacity. He served in the Barossa District Council for fifteen years and was an active member of the local school board and of the Lutheran Church, acting as treasurer of its Aboriginal mission at Koonibba, Denial Bay. He died at Angaston on 11 July 1927, leaving an estate of £11,420. He was survived by his wife and by two sons and four daughters of their ten children.

In 1912 the business of Orlando wines was converted into a limited company, G. Gramp & Sons. The youngest son of the third generation, Louis Hugo (b.1895), later became managing director and won wide repute as an expert judge of wines. He increased the capacity of the winery to 3,500,000 gallons (15,911,315 litres). With other South Australian vignerons he was flying to Canberra for a conference on the wine industry but was killed when the air liner Kyeema crashed into Mount Dandenong on 25 October 1938. He was survived by his wife Hulda, née Braunack, and by two sons and two daughters. His brother Fred took over the management of the company, which was sold to Reckitt & Colman Australia in 1971, and then to the French company Pernod Ricard in 1989.  The winery continues under the label Jacob’s Creek.

Select Bibliography

  • H. T. Burgess (ed), Cyclopedia of South Australia, vol 2 (Adel, 1909)
  • G. Gramp & Sons Ltd, 100 Years of Wine Making, 1847-1947 (Adel, 1948)
  • Observer (Adelaide), 15 Aug 1903
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 26 Oct 1938.

Citation details

'Gramp, Johann (1819–1903)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 20 September 2020.

This article has been amended since its original publication. View Original

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

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