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Torbreck Vintners was founded by David Powell in 1994. The roots go back to 1992 when Dave, who was then working at Rockford, began to discover and clean up a few sections of dry-grown old vines.
He began spending more and more of his spare time in the Barossa Valley and during the winters, he availed himself of the opportunity to venture overseas to work harvests in both California and Italy. He travelled throughout the famous wine regions of Europe and even spent time in Scotland as a lumberjack. This experience was instrumental in illuminating the unique attributes of the Barossa, at a time when others felt this heritage was past its sell-by date.
Finding work at Rockford in the Barossa Valley, he became steeped in the traditional culture of the region and in the early 1990s the idea of owning his own winery began to take shape. David was saddened by the vinous devastation caused by the mid-1980s government sponsored ‘Vine Pull’ scheme but in working with Rockford’s Robert O’Callaghan, he became convinced that a market existed for old vine wines influenced by the classic Rhône styles.
Lacking deep pockets (but inspired nonetheless), he set about approaching local landowners concerning their neglected properties. Dave nurtured these old, lifeless and overgrown vineyards back to health in his spare time. Bringing this old practice of share farming back to the Barossa subsequently secured for him a regular supply of fruit from the best Shiraz, Grenache, and Mataro vineyards, including a few hectares of what are thought to be among the oldest grapevines on the planet. In return for his “sweat equity”, Powell’s efforts were rewarded with a few parcels of dry grown fruit, and he turned these “wages” into the first bottles of Torbreck.
As these first vintages lay in barrel, Dave thought back to his experiences overseas and realized that the growers of the Barossa Valley had overlooked the suitability of the French white Rhône varieties. Seeking to rectify this oversight, the purchase of 30 acres of land in Marananga occurred in 1994 for the purpose of planting Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier.
Shiraz was included in the mix in what is now known as the Descendant Vineyard, also the site of the new Torbreck winery. Other acquisitions (included a one hundred year old vineyard that had been previously share farmed) soon followed, and Torbreck continues to follow the path of sourcing the best fruit possible from its own vineyards and those of selected growers in the region.