Peter Lehmann dies aged 82

Peter Lehmann, the “Baron of the Barossa”, member of the Order of Australia and pioneering figure in the Australian wine industry died peacefully in hospital yesterday after a long illness at the age of 82.

Peter Lehmann, 1930-2013

Peter Lehmann, 1930-2013

Born in Angaston, Barossa, Peter worked for Yalumba and Saltram wineries before setting up his own business in 1979 in a bold move to protect the threatened livelihoods of many Barossa grape growers.

When Australia’s bulk wine market collapsed in 1982, Peter rallied again by embracing the bottled wine business and creating Peter Lehmann Wines. Today this business works with over 140 growers across the Barossa Valley to produce a range of more than 40 wines.

During his time at Saltram, Peter was among the first to react to a growing consumer demand for fruity white wines, a focus he continued to develop under his own label with the help of chief winemaker Andrew Wigan, who worked with Peter from 1976 onwards.

Together they championed Barossa Semillon in particular, naming the winery’s top tier expression “Margaret” in tribute to Peter’s wife and business partner.

Although Peter officially retired in 2002, selling a controlling stake to the Swiss group Hess, he and Margaret retained a share in the business and a home next door to the winery.

Doug Lehmann, who worked alongside his father for more than 20 years, described Peter as “one in a million”, adding: “Like everything he ever did in his life, he fought incredibly hard until the end. And always with a smile and a quip. He certainly lived more than nine lives in his 82 years.”

Jeff Bond, CEO of Peter Lehmann Wines, paid further tribute to “PL”, as Peter was widely known, saying: “Every generation creates a few special people who have the vision, creativity and courage to make a difference. PL was one.”

Remembered above all for his steadfast loyalty to the people and land of his beloved Barossa, Peter once famously said: “I battled corporate arrogance for most of my career, but my defining moment was with the impetuous writer, who after a tasting said to me, ‘the Barossa floor is only good for growing cabbages’. The time has come to talk of many things, cabbages and kings included.”

Peter is survived by wife Margaret, sons Doug, David, and Philip, and daughter Libby.

 

4 Responses to “Peter Lehmann dies aged 82”

  1. Michael Cox says:

    many fond memories of Peter, both in the Barossa and in UK, often with his son Doug. I admired his steadfast loyalty and commitment to the Barossa. The Baron will be missed, and I will dig out a bottle of Stonewell Shiraz from the ‘cellar’ and raise a glass in his memory this evening.

  2. Chris Russi says:

    I true legend that I enjoyed meeting and working for in the late 90″s. Nothing but fond memories…he will be missed.

  3. JJNewman says:

    The time has come to crack into my Stonewell ’97 and raise the roof and have some fun.

  4. Charles Metcalfe says:

    As the man who rescued the growers of the Barossa back in the early ’80s, PL won great respect and will be much missed. We might well not have the great old-vine Barossa Shirazes of today if PL had not been there at that moment. We shall drink to him tonight, in Stonewell Shiraz.

  5. Angie Wood says:

    Working for PL wines in the UK over the 90’s and 00’s, it was a pleasure to have met PL a few times and fond memories will live with me forever. Lovely family and my condolences go out to Margaret, Doug and the rest of the Lehmann family and winery as a whole

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