The roots of Torbreck first appear in 1992 when David Powell, then working for the noted Rockford Estate in the Barossa Valley, found and began to revive some plots of old and virtually derelict vines. After much hard work the vines were brought back to life and rewarded former lumberjack David with a crop of wonderful grapes. He managed to secure a contract to supply grapes from an ancient vineyard and in earned enough money to begin share-cropping the land, paying a percentage of the income to the owner in return for the right to manage the site as he saw fit. In 1994 he established Torbreck, named for the forest near Inverness, Scotland, where he had once worked and in 1995 he vinified his first wine, a shiraz-viognier blend, released it in 1997 as Run Rig alongside a 1996 blend of grenache, mataro (aka mourvèdre) and shiraz.
Almost as soon as he had released them he found them the centre of a huge amount of attention as critics and wine lover began to laud them. Twenty years later Torbreck makes 19 different cuvées to continued acclaim, sourcing fruit from a number of old, some might say ancient, dry-farmed vines in vineyards that are among the best in the Barossa. Among the sites acquired or leased is the historic and beautiful Hillside estate in Lyndoch with its gnarled vines and famous house.
The ethos here is to show just what the Barossa can do with the grape varieties that initially made its name – shiraz, grenache, mataro together with some marsanne and roussanne. It will come as no surprise to anyone who has tasted them that David Powell’s wines have been something of a tribute to the great wines of the Rhône Valley while remaining essentially Barossa.
In 2008 Powell was bought out by US entrepreneur Peter Knight, though he stayed on until 2013, and the new owner has retained the services of the company’s winemaker, Gary Isbel.