RunRig is the flagship wine of the Australian Torbreck Vintners. Formed in 1994 in the historical hamlet of Marananga, Torbreck has quickly become one of the Barossa Valley’s leading wine producers. Since those first wines were released, they have attracted universal acclaim and are now highly prized by wine connoisseurs around the world. Still, Torbreck is a privately owned and operated company, following the philosophy, direction and passionate beliefs of the founder winemaker David Powell. Accordingly, this is more than just a story about producing fine wine; it also illustrates how a unique relationship between a region’s heritage and its old vineyards can be reinvigorated by one person’s vision and enthusiasm.
It was in the early 1990s that the idea of Torbreck began to take shape. Initially, David was saddened by the government-sponsored “vine pull”, but he was also convinced that a market existed for old Rhône styles. He set about approaching local landowners concerning their neglected properties. Nearly lifeless and overgrown, the old vines were nurtured back to health and Powell was rewarded with a few small parcels of dry grown fruit, which he turned into wine. Contracts were then negotiated for the use of the vineyards, and so the old practice of share farming returned to the Valley. This secured for Torbreck a regular supply from the best Barossa Shiraz, Grenache, and Mataro (Mourvedre) vineyards containing some of the oldest vines in the world.
As the fruits of the first vintages lay in barrel, Powell realised that the Valley may have overlooked the suitability of the French white Rhône varieties. Consequently in 1994, 30 acres of land in Marananga was purchased for the sole purpose of planting Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Shiraz, whilst other acquisitions included a 100-year-old vineyard that had previously been share farmed.