Ian Hongell was born in New South Wales before settling to the Barossa Valley with his family at the age of 4. From an early age his father’s connection to Saltram winery resulted in time spent around the cellars sparking an interest in wine and viticulture. During the later years of high school, he would work the holidays at Saltram and the first stages of harvest. After completing high school in 1988, he spent a gap year working in the Hunter, Barossa and Napa wine regions honing the direction of his path prior to university.
Whist studying a winemaking degree in 1990-92 at Roseworthy College he worked at Bethany Wines. Following the completion of his degree he embarked upon a winemaking journey firstly for Penfold’s Winery Barossa and Cranswick Estate in Griffith New South Wales. During this period Ian also completed harvest in Haut-Médoc and Rhine Hessen, finally in 1998 returning home to the Barossa with his wife Daniela.
After planting a Shiraz vineyard on his property in Marananga, he joined the winemaking team at Peter Lehmann Wines in 1998 as Winemaker under the tutelage of Barossa legends Peter Lehmann and Andrew Wigan, Ian quickly became a name to be reckoned with in the Barossa Valley and in 2015 he was promoted to Chief Winemaker of Peter Lehmann wines after 16 harvests.
Late 2016 Ian accepted the position as Chief Winemaker for Torbreck Vintners.
Commencing with the 2017 harvest, this rare opportunity afforded Ian the chance to expand his Barossa experience, leaving no stone un-turned from some of the oldest vineyards in the world. Sourcing from vineyards throughout the Barossa’s western subregions and crafting some of the finest expressions of regional wines.
This serendipitous opportunity at Torbreck Vintners allowed Ian to reconnect with his father’s vineyard where he had learnt in his early years the fundamentals of viticulture. Ian’s father John and Brother Trevor have been long-time vignerons for Torbreck Vintners shortly after it was established in 1994.
Ian’s industry accomplishments are far-reaching, from a 2009 scholar at the Len Evens Tutorial, to staring in Tyson Stetzer’s TV mini-series, “People of the Vines”, a year’s filming to showcase a cycle of wine. Furthermore, he is a highly sought after wine show judge, both nationally and regionally.
In 2016 Ian was appointed by the fraternity order of the Barossa as a “Baron of the Barossa” in recognition for service to the Barossa community and winemaking. A chosen few receive this award in their lifetime.
In 2019 Ian accepted the role as Chief Winemaker & General Manager of Torbreck Vintners Barossa Valley and Escarpment Winery Martinborough NZ.
Ian when not making wine or tending to his beloved vineyard is an avid traveller, outdoorsman, motorcycle enthusiast and self-appointed top chef of any BBQ.