Torbreck founder David Powell was born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia. His father was a chartered accountant and like it or not, Dave soon found himself on a similar career path. However, while immersed in the study of Economics at Adelaide University, an uncle introduced him to wine and young Dave realized that grapes could be more intriguing than numbers. 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.