Welcome to our series of interviews with Barossans, this week we catch up with Craig Isbel, Head Winemaker at Torbreck.
What would you like to do if you weren’t working in the wine industry?
I love life and would be happy doing anything but I have a Sports Science degree so I would probably like to use that a little more than I do at the moment. I probably wouldn’t like to be drinking any less.
What do you love most about your job and why?
I enjoy the connection that exists between the soil, the climate, the plant and the wine. This connection is authentic and tangible and I love crafting a product from something that grows. I also enjoy the physical component of making wine, particularly during harvest when I like to always have a shovel in my hands just in case.
What was your first car?
A red VB Commodore with white mags and a spoiler. It’s still my favourite car that I have owned.
What grape variety or wine style most interests you at the moment?
I am very interested in Aglianico which is an Italian grape variety that has one of the longest consumer histories of all grapes and was thought to be native to Greece. I have been drinking and loving it for a few years and now and made the first wine off new plantings in 2014. I also enjoy drinking Grenache and find this the most suited grape variety to the Barossa Valley.
What are you listening too at the moment?
Mainly punk and ska, but music is like wine and there is always something that suits my mood. I love to surf the world’s digital stations as well; there is nothing better than Sunday morning eggs and bacon with some Eastern Euro Polka.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
I like cooking Asian style food and my favourite at the moment is a Cambodian Beef Salad.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A solid days work with mates and a meal, a drink and a chat at the end.
When you’re not working what do you like to do?
As much as possible but nothing specific; just stuff. Music festivals, wakeboarding, weight training, reading, working in my vineyard and just hanging out with my family.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I try not to have any and would like to make my life simpler.
What are you reading at the moment?
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
What is your favourite city/country to visit and why?
France is an obvious choice and I try to get to the Southern Rhone to calibrate my palate every couple of years.
What is the most memorable wine/s you have tried?
The most memorable would be the first time I visited Domaine du Pegau and tasted with my future wife and my future business partner. We were struck by the power and purity of the wine, but most of all the casual cave experience and the culture of wine that was so intertwined with the family.
Who are your heroes in real life?
I respect those that care for others more than themselves.
What are your top 3 Barossa tips?
Explore the back roads and small producers, don’t be shy about chilling your reds and be patient when waiting for your food.
What would be your chosen superpower?
I am happy to be as “powerful” as I am – nothing super required.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you say to them?
I am very interested in history and philosophy so any of the four big guys – Jesus, Muhammad, Gautama Buddha or Confucius. I wouldn’t say anything as there would be more value in listening.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
I would take my wife and son and maybe a yacht just in case.
If you died and came back as a person or thing, what would it be?
What makes the Barossa special to you?
The generational families and the unbroken traditions that they are determined to instil and uphold. From a winemaking perspective, the diversity of the soils and the knowledge of the viticultural families.
What is your motto?
The path that appears the most difficult is often the simplest.