Mini Bio: Peter Lehmann

Tayla Gentle / July 01, 2013 03:26 PM

Legendary winemaker and pioneering businessman Peter Lehmann has died aged 82.

The man they called the Baron of Barossa was admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital last week after an extended battle with kidney disease and passed away Friday morning.

The family man is survived by his wife Margaret, four children and several grandchildren.

Peter Lehmann

Peter and Margaret Lehmann                        

Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald

Born in Angaston in 1930, Lehmann sought work in the wine industry at a young age, becoming an apprentice winemaker at Yalumba vineyard at only 14.

For over a decade he toiled, keenly picking up all the necessary tricks of the trade before he made the move over to Saltram to take up the position of chief winemaker in 1960.

During his time at Saltram, Lehmann helped cement the winery’s reputation as a maker of classic red wines and pioneered the introduction of their white wine list.

In the early 1980s, he and his wife Margaret decided to establish their own business and consequently built an empire under the family name.

The winemaker with a “big heart” is remembered fondly by industry colleagues and missed by Barossa valley locals.

It is the locals who remember the year of the Para River flood, when barrel upon barrel of good wine was washed from the Lehmann cellar and downstream, only to be found and returned.

Or when he invited local Adelaidians to pick their backyard grapes, drop them off at his back door crusher and watch them turn into their very own drop.

Lehmann’s eldest son and the family business’ managing director, Doug said his dad was “unparalleled” in his love for his hometown region.

“He did a lot of good. He provided incomes for many growers in the Barossa and we’re all very proud of that achievement,” Doug said.

Although the Lehmann business battled economic crisis’, shareholder collapses and hostile takeover attempts, the passion, drive and smarts of its founder always pulled the winery through its toughest times.

His outstanding contribution to the industry was recognized in 2009 when Lehmann was the recipient of an International Wine Challenge Lifetime Achievement Award and awarded a Centenary Medal in 2003.

Long time friend and mentor, Yalumba’s Robert Hill Smith said Lehmann was a “wonderfully warm, wicked and talented man”.

“He was one of the last whose word was his bond. A Barossa pillar taken too early, he leaves a void but also endless memories and naughty stories for us to savour,” he said.

Best friend and fellow winemaker, Wolf Blass said Lehmann will “never be forgotten”.

Sources: Herald Sun, The Australian, ABC Online.

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