Winemaker Peter Lehmann, who just turned 80, is considered a hero in Australian wine circles. It’s not just the wines in a career that spans more than 60 years, but what he did in the 1980s to rescue a host of Barossa Valley growers who likely would have gone out of business if he hadn’t started Peter Lehmann Wines in 1980.
Today’s economic woes pale in comparison to what was happening then. The oversupply was so bad that the government instituted what was called a “vine-pull scheme.” Many growers actually did pull out mature vines, but others realized that the plan only paid growers not to produce grapes for several years. Those who could ride it out took the government’s money, let their vineyards go wild, then started retraining the vines after the hiatus. And that is why so much old-vine Shiraz and Grenache still exists in the Barossa today.
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