Winemaker Dave Powell has said he is saddened by his departure from Torbreck Vintners, and has vowed to start a new wine venture in Barossa Valley with his son.
In a strongly worded statement, Powell said that he never intended to leave Torbreck, the premium Barossa-based winery he founded in the1990s. He also said he was hurt by reported comments from winery proprietor Pete Kight late last week, some of which questioned his management style.
US-based Kight told several media outlets, including decanter.com, that Powell had left Torbreck after a five-year contract had expired.
Powell lost financial control of the winery after it fell into receivership in late 2002, although he has remained very much involved in winemaking and promotion.
In 2008, Kight and Powell announced a partnership that would see them buy Torbreck, although the exact financial details remain unclear. Kight has since declared himself to be proprietor of the business.
‘I was offered a deal five years ago, when I had my back to the wall financially, which my lawyer told me not to sign,’ Powell said. He said signing was ‘one stupid mistake that has cost me my life’s work’.
Five years later and Powell could have stayed on at Torbreck in an international promotional capacity, but he turned this down and no further deal was forthcoming. Powell refuted a suggestion that his management style had been ‘volatile’, insisting that ‘I treat my team like my family, always have’.
Asked if he would consider returning to Torbreck under any circumstances, Powell told decanter.com it was very unlikely.
He plans to start a new wine venture with his son, Callum, who is currently studying winemaking in France with friends Erin and Jean Louis Chave.
‘My passion and life’s work lies in the Barossa,’ Powellsaid in his statement. ‘They can take the company I built but they can’t take my passion. Torbreck’s just a label now.’
Winemaking team Craig Isbel, Scott McDonald, and Russell Burns remain at the business, according to Kight.
Written by Chris Mercer