The PLW AGM

A happy coincidence saw me with too much leave accumulated with the consequent pressure from HR to use it up, and the Annual General Meeting of Peter Lehmann Wines.

So, yesterday was a day off work to attend the AGM.

Peter Lehmann Wines was a publicly listed company which my family and I had bought shares in during the original float about 12 years ago. It’s been a spectacular performer, with a 10 year average annual shareholder return of about 14%.

About 2 years ago a large foreign company launched a takeover bid, the ensuing fight eventually saw a partial takeover by the Swiss-based Hess group.

The company went from being owned by a few big players and many small South Australian individuals, to being 85% owned by Hess, 10% by the Lehmann family, and the remaining 5% is owned by about 430 small shareholders. Trade in the shares was very small, so now it is an unlisted public company.

We have tried to get to the AGM for the last 5 years or so – the formal meeting is always over quickly and we get to take a look around OUR company. Not to mention, the spread for lunch was always fantastic.

Yesterday saw us driving off to the Barossa Valley, admiring the farms and crops in the countryside on the way there.

The meeting was a much smaller affair than it used to be – about 50 shareholders turned up (it used to be about 400). There cannot be too many public companies that have Annual Meetings of shareholders like this:

. The meeting did not start until the Lehmanns arrived – and fair enough to show the founder some respect

. How many company AGMs have the major shareholders dog walking amongst the other assembled shareholders?

. How many companies have the (acting) Chairman making jokes with the other directors and shareholders?

It was a simple meeting, over with quickly, the company is trading well in difficult times, and there were “light refreshments” after.

Light Refreshments, Barossa style, means local produce: a locally smoked and cured ham, Mettwurst, salad, fruit, pie, bread and of course German cake. And not to mention – the company wine is available – whatever you want, as much as you want.

After the light lunch (stomach groaning), I’d hate to see a heavy meal!

Some stand-outs in the food department from this and previous years:

. Linkes make really good authentic Mettwurst and still smoke and cure hams the old-fashioned way. The Linkes ham is THE BEST I’ve ever eaten.

. Try and get some Zimmys Barossa pickled onion relish…. Mmmm. Same for their Beetroot relish!!

. The Barossa bakeries do really good bread and some of the best German cake you will ever find:

- Try the Apex Bakery in Tanunda for bread and German cake (Streuzel) made the old-fashioned slow-rise way

- Linkes bakery in Nuriootpa does a really good bienenstich (the Australian corruption calls this a Beesting)

After lunch and a quick zip into Rockfords to try & buy a bit more wine (the sparkling Black Shiraz is one of the best ever) it was time to rush home and collect the kids from school.

We are so incredibly fortunate to have such a luxury of good food and wine, readily available. Sometimes it takes a trip out of the city to find the really good stuff that is grown or made the old-fashioned way , but it is there if you go searching.

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Shameless plugs: If you go to the Barossa, make sure you visit Peter Lehmann wines, if only to take a walk through the gardens. But buy some wine, it’s one of the few places to give 13 bottles with every dozen purchased. But also track down some decent bread, Streuzel, relishes & chutneys, and so on. It’s worth the effort.

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