- Erinn Klein (E.K)
- Janet Klein
- Brendan Cato (B.C)
Thanks for joining us for our second edition of Meet the Maker. Hopefully we’re breaking down those vineyard to table barriers for you.
When we look at place like Ngeringa, there’s really nothing like it in Australia. It is one of Australia’s original certified biodynamic and vineyards, situated in a unique position on the slopes of Mount Barker summit in the Adelaide Hills. Having only recently ventured into their wines, we would regard them as pure, clean and delicious representations of the beauty of South Australian wine.
Two vintages ago Ngeringa teamed up with Sydney based chef and Carto winemaker, Brendan Cato, to create a more nouveau style of wines using the grapes farmed at Ngeringa – Ngarto. The wines are more experimental and fun offshoots of the Ngeringa style. Adding a new dimension to the existing set.
Hey guys, thank you so much for taking the time today. How is everything down south at the moment in light of COVID?
Life is good here and relatively normal compared to Vic and NSW from what we hear. We had a glorious month of nearly all sunshine and no rain to get our pruning nearly completed and now we are back to much needed wet winery weather to soak our soil ready for spring and summer.
For all the readers Rudolf Steiner was the founder of both biodynamics and Anthroposophy. There’s also Waldorf education of which you (Janet and Erinn) were educated under, can you tell us a bit more about this?
This is a long topic! I went to the local Waldorf school here in Mt Barker until the end of year 8. It is a schooling system that encourages each child to develop creatively, as an individual and largely at their own pace. My parents were heavily involved in the Anthroposophical movement, so I grew up at home with a lot of those principals, learning classical music instruments, a lot of outdoor time on our biodynamic farm, a substantial veg garden, making BD compost etc. Janet came from the ACT and went to a more conventional state school, but also grew up on a farm.
Ngeringa Farm is reportedly one of the oldest biodynamic farms in Australia. Started with your parents back in the 1980s. Is that right?
Yes, the Ngeringa property was farmed biodynamically even before my parents acquired it in the mid 1990’s. The Ngeringa property was a run Biodynamic farm from producing, root veg, fruit trees and Beef since 1980 and after my parents purchased it in around 1995 it was used to produce a lot of the active ingredient herbs for Jurlique Skin Care. Janet and I then panted vines in 2001 and 2002.
Why did you two choose to plant vines and pursue winemaking at Ngeringa?
When Janet and I finished studying viticulture and winemaking respectively, my parents offered us the possibility to plant vines on the family land. We had the soils analysed, did our research on most suited varieties to our soils, site and climate and ploughed ahead with this amazing opportunity to plant into clean healthy soil that had been treated farmed without the uses chemicals for 20 years. An opportunity too good to pass by.
What does natural mean to you and what are the core principles in the cellar that you stick to?
B.C. Natural wine ultimately starts with the fruit that is used, this being free from herbicide and pesticide use . I feel so many people overlook this principle and instead look at whether So2 has been added to wine or not to deem it “natural” or “conventional”. Fact is that all natural wine must start in the vineyard and that vineyard must be organic.
In the cellar wild yeasts, no additives apart from So2 in small amounts and no fining and filtration.
E.K For me the most essential input into wine is grapes and it should go without saying natural wine must come from grapes that are farmed at minimum to organic standards … without the use if synthetic inputs such as chemical fertiliser, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. Then likewise in the winemaking there should not be any additives, but in practice I believe to make wine that is clean, consistent and always delicious as a winemaker we do need to use with care additives like SO2 and sometimes filtration, but only when necessary and always kept to a minimum.
Brendan can you tell us a bit about Ngarto and how you came to partner up with Erinn and Janet on this one?
Erinn and myself met @ Rootstock natural wine festival, several years ago and it was about the time that I had just started to make natural wine and wanted to learn more about it so asked Erinn if I could travel down for vintage. That was the first vintage I did down there back in 2016. In 2018 Erinn suggested making a wine together. my suggestion for that wine was to do a co-ferment red and white grapes...the obvious solution was a Syrah/Viognier and that became the first Ngarto we made.
Last year we added another 2 cuvees to the range, a skin contact Chardonnay and a light red field blend with a short maceration time utilising four different grapes that just made up enough for 1 barrel.
(Brendan) It’s always handy to have a third person view on this, but what is it about the Ngeringa farm that drew you in?
The Ngeringa Farm is an amazing place to be. It is a full closed circle operation, people doing biodynamics properly. Farming, living and breathing it. For me it’s a luxury when I go there, everything from the meat, olive oil, vegetables and of course amazing wines all from within the farm. I feel there are so many people making “natural wine” these days but not many of them are farming, and definitely not “living” it like Janet and Erinn are.
Erinn and Janet, Ngeringa has just gone through a complete re-brand and a stunning set of both entry-level and single site wines. Where to for you guys from here?
Our approach has never been focussed on growth. We want to keep getting better at what we currently do which is already a lot using Biodynamic and regenerative farming as key principles: growing grapes, making wine, mixed Vegetable and fruit production, grazing livestock (sheep, cattle and chickens). Sustainability is a key principle in all aspects how we farm aiming to improve the biodiversity and working a system that largely sustains itself.
Thanks for taking the time guys!