While Erinn Klein didn’t necessarily get the head start in wine that some of his South Australian contemporaries did (he wasn’t the next incumbent of a winemaking dynasty, nor did he grow up on a vineyard), he inherited some farming expertise that put him in a rare position.
Klein’s parents are Ulrike and Jürgen Klein, who founded the Jurlique skin-care brand in 1985. In the 90s, they bought a property in the Adelaide Hills to establish what has become an internationally regarded herb farm, providing material for Jurlique’s botanical extracts.
That farm was managed using biodynamic principles long before Erinn and his wife Janet settled there, and it was certified biodynamic way back in 1993. Erinn and Janet first planted vines in 2001, with the first wine from those vines released from the 2005 vintage (though the Ngeringa brand was used for a release from McLaren Vale a year prior). They now farm three vineyards on the property across about two hectares around Nairne and Mount Barker.
The Kleins have also invested heavily in returning what was clear-felled farmland back to something closer to its original state by planting up to 1,500 trees a year since 2008, all of which are original local species. It’s a deep process of returning the land to be in harmony with the vines and the gardens, with the aim of not just returning the native flora, but to ultimately encourage local fauna and provide a further haven in what is classed a biodiversity hotspot. The vineyard operations are also 80 per cent solar sufficient. It’s a holistic affair, that’s for sure.
In the winery, the Kleins have always had a gentle hand, eschewing any additions bar sulphur and working in a lo-fi manner. In fact, Ngeringa is a modern pioneer of the approach in this country, and one of the few attached to the ‘natural’ movement that has worked with biodynamic fruit from their own property from the beginning. While others were operating with a natural spirit, many were years off from actually ensuring their primary ingredient – the fruit – was genuinely organic.