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Vale Doug Lehmann

Doug Lehmann, the former managing director of Peter Lehmann Wines and eldest son of the founder, Peter Lehmann, has died suddenly at the age of 62.

Lehmann died at home following what is thought to have been a heart attack. It was four years since he retired as MD, although he was still a director of the privately-owned company. His death came a year almost to the day after Peter Lehmann died, on June 28 2013 aged 82.

Doug Lehmann was in many ways a chip off the old block. He was a wild youth, a bit of a tearaway, seldom seen without a cigarette and a beer in his hands, who inherited the risk-taking behavioural tendencies of his father. He also shared the ability to be a good leader who did not place himself above his employees, but was one of them, but at the same time highly respected as the boss.

His peers considered Doug did an excellent job of running Peter Lehmann Wines. He joined PLW in 1990 and, as managing director, opened markets in Europe and the US, and helped establish the company as one of Australia’s most respected wine producers.

It’s been a time of profound change at PLW: Doug’s passing comes just days after the announcement that Andrew Wigan will at the end of the year retire as chief winemaker, a position which he has held since the company was founded in 1979. Ian Hongell has been promoted to replace him.

Doug Lehmann was a team player and an accomplished winemaker in his own right. When I first met him, he was the winemaker at Basedow’s in Tanunda, a venerable brand which is no longer seen. The former Basedow’s winery is now part of the Grant Burge empire.

Away from the wine industry Doug was a car enthusiast and fund-raiser. He was chairman of the children’s charity Variety Bash since 2011. As a participant of the Bash (an outback car rally) over the past 25 years, Doug was consistently among the top 10 fund-raisers. Over his four-year tenure as chairman, more than $5 million was raised.

Douglas is survived by his wife of 40 years, Ingrid, sons Michael and Harry and daughter Annika. A wake was held on July 4 at the Old Redemption function centre at the Peter Lehmann winery.

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