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Peter Lehmann’s Ian Hongell: Barossa’s Straightshooter

It seemed like the perfect plan: Help out Barossa Valley grape growers unable to sell their fruit in a changing market by making wine from their grapes, sell it off in bulk to those who need wine to sell and go play golf for the rest of the year.

Well, something like that, anyways…

A champion of the little guy, Peter Lehmann, a fifth generation Barossa native who grew

up surrounded by vineyards, was originally a winemaker and buyer for a large British-owned Barossa Valley wine company. In 1979 when told by his superiors not to buy fruit he had contracted for, Peter, knowing it was the only source of income for his suppliers, decided to buy and process the fruit himself under the name of Masterson Barossa Vineyards (aptly named after Sky Masterson, the gambler in Guys and Dolls) – and he did it at his employers winery and with their blessing!

The Cellardoor at Peter Lehmann Wines

However, when the winery sold the following year, the new owners halted the arrangement, forcing Peter to go out on his own. The result, Peter Lehmann Wines, enabled him to keep his relationships with growers in good standing and also showcase the increasing depth of the region’s growing capabilities, a move and philosophy that eventually earned Peter the title “Baron of the Barossa.”

Thirty-five years later, Peter Lehmann wines, founded in the late 1970s as an act of compassion by its namesake  with a group of like-minded wine industry veterans,  produces some of the best wines in Australia.


The winery is now owned by the Casella Family Brands of [yellowtail] fame with a winemaking team helmed by Chief Winemaker Ian Hongell, another Barossa native who made his first wine at age 7 in a plastic bucket. Peter Lehmann Wines are now sold worldwide, and count upwards of 30 wines in the portfolio ranging from entry level easy drinkers to top-tier tiny production wines that are continuously heralded as benchmarks of the region’s output.

Chief Winemaker Ian Hongell with Founding Winemaker Andrew Wigan and Peter Lehmann

Peter Lehmann’s winemaker, Ian Hongell, visited with The Connected Table LIVE! on Wednesday May 11 to talk about Peter Lehmann’s legacy, Barossa, and of course the region’s most famous varietal, Shiraz.  Listen to our podcast of this show on and the free iHeart App. Click here for the link.


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For more on the inspiring story of How Peter Lehmann wines was started, check out this video:


A G’Day To Frankland Estate’s Hunter Smith in Western Australia

When your wine is called Isolation Ridge, it’s a pretty sure bet that getting to where its made will probably include a lot of driving, and not necessarily on major roads. Of course, once one leaves the relatively few major cities on the world’s smallest Continent, that can be said for much of Australia.

That said, driving to Frankland Estate, situated in a remote region of Western Australia about 250 miles Southeast out of Perth, one gets the feeling that reaching it may never happen (helicopter, please!). But it’s the wines that keep you driving, as Frankland Estate, founded in 1988 on a sheep station situated about 25 miles north of the Southern Ocean, produces some of that country’s best.

Vineyards at Frankland Estate in Western Australia
Vineyards at Frankland Estate in Western Australia

For all the wine Australia makes, and it makes a lot, the wonderful wines of Western Australia, (the most notably recognizable region of which is Margaret River, further West and closer to Perth), often get overshadowed by their more Easterly counterparts from places like Hunter and Barossa Valleys, two of Australia’s most well-known winemaking areas. Which is surprising, since Western Australian winemaking accounts for over 25% of the country’s total production of premium wines.

All that is starting to change however, and it’s thanks to people like the Smith family, owners of Frankland Estate, who are dedicated to not only making superb wines, but making sure that they do it the right way, through organic farming practices and identifying what grows well (i.e., not just planting what people seem to be drinking at the moment) and making that.

And what Frankland Estate is known for is Riesling and Shiraz, both of which adapt well to the cooler climate of the region and make wines of particularly exceptional and unique character. The Riesling is consistently rated among the country’s top wines in its category, and the Shiraz also produce wines that are internationally acclaimed and sought after due to their distinctly different characteristics (more pronounced tannins and aging potential) than the softer, fruit-forward, drink-it-now Shiraz coming out of the hotter growing regions of Eastern Australia.

Frankland Estate Wines
Frankland Estate Wines

Frankland Estate produces about 15,000 cases overall and has about 75 certified organic acres under vine. Wines include Isolation Ridge Riesling, Shiraz, and Chardonnay, and the same varietals under the Rock Gully moniker, and ode to the geographic area and also street address of the winery. Other wines include Poison Hill Riesling and Netley Road Riesling, and also the Estate’s flagship red wine: Olmo’s Reward Red, an award-winning traditonal Bordeaux blend using Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec.

The wines of Frankland Estate are worth a drive if you’re feeling adventurous, have a Roo Bar on your Land Cruiser, and happen to be in Perth. Or, thankfully, they’re also available in the U.S. which would probably be a bit more convenient, particularly once you run out and need to get more.

Hunter Smith, Frankland Estate Winerty
Hunter Smith, Frankland Estate Winery

Hear from Frankland Estate Co-Owner and Co-Vintner Hunter Smith, whose parents Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam founded Frankland Estate in 1988. Sheep farmers since the 1970s, Smith and Cullam were inspired by a trip to Bordeaux and working two vintages in that region of France. Hunter and sister Elizabeth joined the family business.  And then there’s Gladys the Guinea Hen, the winery’s mascot, who’s in charge of critter and pest control.  Can we have a “G’Day Mate” shout out for this show? January 27th, 2pm EST on The Connected Table LIVE! on



Twitter: @FranklandEstate

U.S. Importer: Quintessential Wines.

Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts The Connected Table LIVE!
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