In 1979, Peter Lehmann founded the winery based on his bravery, loyalty and commitment to Barossa and his desire to ‘do the right thing’ by protecting his mates – the independent grape growers of the Barossa.
During this time Peter had little financial security and an impending vintage of 10,000 tons of grapes.
Family, friends and business associates were rallied to the cause to raise much-needed funds to house and process the fruit. With a very short time frame to work in, Peter and his partners got a lucky break when Hoffmans, an established winery on the outskirts of Tanunda, was put up for sale. The 1880s building overlooked the North Para River on fertile ground, and – with Peter’s guidance – his primary investor bought it as the new home of Masterson Wines. Peter and Margaret bought the block next door, and built the house they still live in today.
The greatest resource was the team who joined Peter’s mission from Saltram. The breakaway team was a “Noah’s Ark” of wine talent, including winemakers Andrew Wigan, Charles Melton and Leonie Lange, and engineer Mick Anderson.
The original plan was to process fruit and sell it to other companies as bulk wine. This worked well for the first two vintages until the industry took another dive, and the bulk wine market collapsed in 1982.
Peter’s solution to this new crisis was to join what he called the “glass jungle”: bottling wines, and taking them to market under their own brand. Masterson was not a commercial option, so a new brand had to be created.
To the family of investors and growers, “Peter Lehmann” was the logical name.
Peter dismissed the idea as a conflict to his winemaking ethos of teamwork. After a great deal of convincing, in 1982 he agreed to put his name to his promise to the growers and so Peter Lehmann Wines was born.