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Cheers to Wig

As the year draws to an end, there is much to celebrate. Last month, we marked the 35th anniversary of the winery Peter Lehmann founded. This month, we celebrate the career of the man who stood by PL from the very beginning, and has lead the way for every wine made ever since: Andrew Wigan.

Wig is about to enter a new phase of his life with retirement. As anyone who has had the pleasure to meet him would know, Wig is anything but a retiring bloke, so we don’t expect he’ll be hitting the recliner and taking it easy any time soon. At least we hope he doesn’t…. He’ll still be part of the team, working with us at vintage and remaining part of the grower family of more than 140 he has forged into a tight unit of friends and collaborators. People he has walked kilometers with through vines, sharing his belief they are growing wine, not just grapes.

But if anyone deserves a break, it’s Wig.

What he has achieved for Peter Lehmann Wines, the Barossa, and the Australian wine industry as a whole, is nothing short of remarkable. Only 10 years after the winery was founded, initially as a rescue mission for growers making bulk contract wine, Wig won Australia’s most prestigious wine prize – the Jimmy Watson Trophy.

Global acclaim came soon after, leading the winery to International Wine and Spirits’ International Winemaker of the Year in 2003, and again in 2006. His passion for riesling and semillon also nabbed the International Wine Challenge’s White Winemaker of the Year in 2006.

Wig has always vehemently made it clear any accolades are a team effort, and never about him. In 2009, he had no choice but to let the spotlight shine on him alone when he was individually named Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine.

Along the way, Wig has mentored countless young winemakers, notably Ian Hongell who has worked beside him for the past 16 years and will step into his very big shoes as Chief Winemaker from vintage 2015.

Wig, the boy from Ararat has certainly come a long way since his first winemaking effort in 1972: a batch of Shiraz made in a rubbish bin under his bed. Over the past 35 years, he helped make Peter Lehmann one of the great names in the wine world.

The Wigan generation will forever be celebrated, and toasted with a glass of Wigan Riesling, or his beloved Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz, inspired from his origins in Victoria’s Great Western.

Cheers to you, Wig.