The Australian wine industry lost a stalwart when Peter Lehmann, dubbed a “Baron of Barossa,” died June 28 in Adelaide, Australia. Lehmann suffered from kidney disease. He was 82.
A champion for the Barossa Valley, Lehmann launched his career in the wine industry in 1947 at Yalumba, when he was 17 years old. In 1960, he moved to Saltram Wines, where he was chief winemaker for 20 years.
Lehmann founded his company, Peter Lehmann Wines (originally Masterson Barossa Vineyards) in 1979, in response to corporate wineries no longer buying fruit from the region’s grape growers. He and Rockford owner Robert O’Callaghan are widely credited with preserving the vines and livelihoods of many Barossa grapegrowers. In 2002, Lehmann officially retired when he sold a controlling stake of the business to The Hess Group in Switzerland. The business now produces more than 40 wines while working with 140 Barossa growers.
“Like everything he ever did in his life, he fought incredibly hard until the end,” said Lehmann’s son, Doug, who worked with his father for 20 years to grow the business, in a release. “And always with a smile and a quip. He certainly lived more than nine lives in his 82 years.”
Lehmann is survived by his wife Margaret, sons Doug, David and Philip, and daughter Libby.