A Saltram celebration

Celebrating 160 years of Saltram Wines: George Samios, Warren Short, Richard Mattner, Shavaughn Wells, Charles Melton, Phil Lehmann, Nigel Dolan, Tony Thiele, Steve Hoff, Pete Scholz, Alex MacKenzie, Andrew Wigan, and John Hongell.

Past winemakers and close connections of Saltram Wines in Angaston gathered for a special lunch at Mamre Brook House and Saltram cellar door on December 10 in celebration of the winery’s 160th year.

Current winemaker, Alex MacKenzie hosted the intimate event, which, for old time’s sake, brought together some of the key players of the winery’s past.

“For me it’s the puzzle, it’s a little jigsaw, putting all the pieces together,” said Alex, who was installed as Saltram’s tenth winemaker in 2017.

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Alex was joined at the event by ninth winemaker, Shavaughn Wells, eighth winemaker, Nigel Dolan as well as Phil Lehmann, son of the late Peter Lehmann, who was the fifth winemaker in the Saltram succession.

Nigel is also the son of Bryan Dolan, who preceded Peter as the fourth winemaker.

Like others before him, Nigel’s parents, Bryan and Peggy lived in Mamre Brook House during Bryan’s tenure, and it was where Nigel was born. 

Nigel returned to live in the house years later with his own family when he took up the position of winemaker himself.

He said he cherished his connection to Saltram.

“There’s many winemaking memories, and achievements through my time that I’m very proud of, but I think living here with my family in such a nice environment and in a beautiful house will always be a very significant memory and connection that I’ll have forever,” he said.

“Saltram with now 160 years of heritage, and it’s still a very strong Barossa brand, deserves to celebrate these milestones. 

“And just a collection of all these people… those who have worked here and been involved, developed the brand… just to recognise them as part of the history I think is a fabulous thing.”

Phil Lehmann also has fond memories of Mamre Brook house, spending some of his earliest years living there while Peter was winemaker in the 60s and 70s.

“I used to love wandering around in vintage time, going to check out the night crushing and generally getting into mischief. It was a simpler time back then,” he recalled.

As well as having an opportunity to swap stories and memories, Alex used last week’s event to release a limited edition 50 year old rare tawny, blended from select vintages made under the guidance of  Peter Lehmann, Bryan Dolan and the many that proceeded them, to mark the anniversary, and acknowledged those who continue to maintain the special parcels of fruit.

Lunch was thoughtfully paired with a range of Saltram wines dating back to 1949.

George Samios, Director of Fine Wine for Saltram and Treasury Estates attended, noting the importance Saltram has played in the Australian wine industry since it was founded by William and Edward Salter in 1859. 

“It’s a unique opportunity to celebrate 160 years of an amazing winery,” he said.

“I think when it comes to the Australian wine industry, the Barossa is the heart and soul of it.”

The special place Saltram has earned in the rich heritage of Barossa wine is not lost on Alex.

“Obviously being the tenth winemaker, it’s big shoes to fill,” he said.

“A lot of people were born here and lived here and worked here and gone on and done different things. 

“There were some great winemakers before me, but I’ve been involved with the brand since 2001, so it’s great to actually learn from these guys and take in what they’ve been doing and hopefully create my own sort of style as well, so I’m looking forward to the future.”