Peter Lehmann (AO), winemaker and champion of Barossa, passed away today (June 28) at the age of 82 in Adelaide.
The man who put Barossa on the map died peacefully in hospital with beloved wife and collaborator Margaret by his side following a long and well fought battle against illness.
Son Doug Lehmann, who worked with Peter for more than 20 years establishing Peter Lehmann Wines as one of the great company’s of the Australian wine industry, remembers his father as “one in a million”.
“Like everything he ever did in his life, he fought incredibly hard until the end. And always with a smile and a quip,” Doug Lehmann said today. “He certainly lived more than nine lives in his 82 years.”
CEO of Peter Lehmann Wines, Jeff Bond, says “PL”, as he was best known, was one of the few people who could genuinely lay claim to being a legend in their own lifetime.
“Not that he ever did – or would,” Bond said.
“Every generation creates a few special people who have the vision, creativity and courage to make a difference. PL was one.”
Peter Lehmann wrote a new chapter in Australian wine history in 1979 when he put everything on the line to protect growers facing bankruptcy as corporate wineries stopped buying fruit. His “gamble” – starting a new independent winery as a lifeline for the growers - ensured the futures of more than 100 families were secured. Although retiring officially in 2002, his eponymous brand became a global success, and put Barossa on the world stage.
Peter Lehmann entered the wine industry when he was 17. Over the next 30 years, he forged a reputation as one of the country’s leading winemakers.
It was his belief in the people, the place and keeping true to his word that set him apart.
He famously once 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 Lehmann is survived by wife Margaret, sons Doug, David, and Philip, and daughter Libby.
At the winery: CEO Jeff Bond, Jeff.Bond@peterlehmannwines.com