19 Mar 2024


Michael Wohlstadt took a chance. He had no family farming history when, at 23, he bought 80 acres of Barossa land – a property that today nurtures pigs, dairy cows, vines and oyster mushrooms. 

“It was always a childhood dream to be a farmer,” he says. 

Wohlstadt wanted to build something different. Bigger was not better. With a modest number of animals he could manage every step of butter, cream, buttermilk and pork production. He could offer the herd a peaceful life – and he could add value to his products before they left the district. Today his Dairyman Barossa range appears in leading South Australian restaurants, among them Adelaide’s arkhé, Magill Estate Kitchen and Barossa's Hentley Farm and Appellation. Home cooks buy direct from him at farmers markets, while boutique farm accommodation is another offshoot.  

 “I get concerned when I hear discussions (suggesting) primary production is not viable,” Wohlstadt says.  

“Family farms are being lost to corporates, but partly that’s because people are farming the way they always did. It very much is a monoculture that’s reliant on a single commodity to sell. 

“I milk 20 cows. It’s very atypical, but I’m able to keep control of every part of the process right though to the consumer. It’s a different model that works. I encourage others to think about that possibility.” 

The Barossa Heroes Dining Gallery at Tasting Australia on 3 May will honour the region’s produce, with Dairyman fare set to star.  

For Wohlstadt, it’s connection that makes life on his property so special. 

“Farming can be a very lonely life,” he says.  

“People are on tractors for long hours of the day. The motivation to get up in the morning and get around to doing your work when you’re working alone could be quite a challenge, and I feel for people that need to do that. 

“For me, the activities each day are very diverse, and I engage in every stage of the production. Probably the most satisfying thing is that I’m always dealing with the consumer of the product.”