09/01/2008 - 22:00

Lagan a South West wine pioneer

09/01/2008 - 22:00

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Wine pioneer Dr John Lagan was a hard-working wine enthusiast rather than a businessman, according to his son, Conor, who joined members of the wine industry, former patients and friends at a memorial service for his father last week.

Wine pioneer Dr John Lagan was a hard-working wine enthusiast rather than a businessman, according to his son, Conor, who joined members of the wine industry, former patients and friends at a memorial service for his father last week.

Dr Lagan passed away, aged 80, on December 27.

“Dad wasn’t a businessman sitting looking at the books; he didn’t deal with numbers,” Mr Lagan remembers.

“His interest in wine was more cultural and pioneering.”

Dr Lagan was a lover of people, rather than numbers, which was evident at the turnout at a wake held on the Xanadu property late last week.

“There were former patients, wine people, and people he bumped into on the street when he was walking the dog,” Mr Lagan said.

Dr Lagan continued working full time in medicine while he established the vineyard on 160 hectares bought in the early 1970s.

Xanadu grew substantially over the years and was floated on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2001. Like other wine businesses that entered the corporate arena, Xanadu struggled as aggressive expansion collided with a grape glut, forcing its then directors to sell the group’s assets.

The business is now owned and operated by Victoria’s Rathbone family.

Dr Lagan was not involved in managing the business after it floated.

“It broke my heart to see what happened to the business my family and I began in the early 1970s,” Dr Lagan told WA Business News in 2005.

A poetry lover, Dr Lagan,  chose the name for Xanadu from the home of Kubla Khan featured in the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Dr Lagan was guided in the formation of Xanadu, then called Chateau Xanadu, by winery pioneers Perth cardiologist Dr Tom Cullity and Dr Kevin Cullen.

Mr Lagan remembers his father spent a fair amount of time away from the winery in the early years as he drove between practices in Margaret River and Kwinana.

Dr Lagan and his wife, Eithne, who raised three children, established the practice in Kwinana because there wasn’t enough work for the two doctors in the South West.

Margaret River Wine Industry Association president Peter Wood said Dr Lagan was a pioneer who brought economic well being to Margaret River by helping develop a then fledging wine industry.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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