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Rest in peace, Peter (Rabbit) Lehmann

It’s a sad time for our family right now. My grandfather, Peter Lehmann, passed away yesterday (28 June 2013) at 82 years of age. Known as the ‘Baron of the Barossa’, Peter lived an extraordinary life. He entered the wine industry when he was 17, and over the next 30 years, became one of Australia’s leading winemakers and most loved personalities. There are plenty of articles online about that side of Peter at the moment, such as: The Australian article and Herald Sun article.

But I wanted to reflect on who Peter was to me – never ‘Granddad’ as he wasn’t a fan of that title; to me, he was always Peter Rabbit. We lived in different states, so most of my memories of him are from the many Christmases my family spent in the Barossa, full of amazing food and (as I got older) wine. I remember playing countless card games with him when I was young and I’m glad he never let me win – I had to earn success.

As I grew up, our relationship matured into mutual love and respect, and both he and his wife, Margaret, have a very special place in my heart. I’m sad that he didn’t get to meet his first great grandchild in person, but happy that technology let him ‘meet’ her on screen.
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Both he and Margaret read The Big Smoke (my first book) and said it was ‘a damn good read’.  It felt wonderful to get such great feedback from two people I admire and respect so much.
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Tonight, to honour Peter, my husband, Mark, and I decided to open a bottle of Peter Lehmann wine that’s been maturing on the shelf for years – a 2002 Mentor. It’s been a long time since we’ve had to use a cork screw. Mark had a bit of trouble with the cork, and when he finally got it out, red wine sprayed all over him and the kitchen.
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“Looks like Peter had the last laugh,” I said. And I could honestly imagine him looking down on us at that moment, having a good chuckle. He always had a great sense of humour.
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Here’s to you, Peter Rabbit.  You’ll be dearly missed.

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