Jordan Hein Moorak

Top Winemakers

Jordan Hein is a first-generation and largely self-taught winemaker, taking the plunge into his own label and winemaking facility early in his career. Based in McLaren Vale in an environmentally sensitive collaborative facility, he makes a dozen or so wines from across South Australia, partnering with sustainable and organic growers who focus on regenerative agriculture. The wines are built on experimentation, but they don’t often stray into wildly polarising areas, nuanced with alternative methods but still centred on variety and place. The range includes a pét-nat, bright cinsault, pulpy unfiltered white, textural riesling, and a structured and a bright pinot noir, among others.

“I’ve grown as a winemaker through a community of close friends who have also established their brand in a similar path,” says Hein. “…Some who have also learnt through physical hands-on experience. It’s helped me to understand all areas of establishing a brand, winemaking and business in general. We all share our learnings with one another open handed, to help get through challenges when establishing a new wine label.”

Hein started out in hospitality, mainly working in pubs. “A close friend, Dominic Smith (now Slow Lane), and I were both in the industry, and we found ourselves getting more and more into wines, tasting and learning what makes a wine different from another.”

The pair were living together at the time and a backyard wine quickly followed. “After a grim result, but an enjoyable experience, we both decided to move to Clare Valley to have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals throughout a vintage,” says Hein.

That was in 2017 at O’Leary Walker, where Hein established a foundation in cellar processes and the fundamentals of fermentation. “Shortly after, I travelled through Portugal, Spain, France and Italy to get some background of Old World wines, alternative practices in the cellar, differences and influences in climates and regions…”

Once back home to Adelaide, Hein took a position at Proof Wine Bar. “Shane and Joe welcomed me into their tastings where I could meet other producers and distributors, and talk wine. My passion grew, then I decided to be creative with my own label.” Putting his life savings into the purchase of 3 tonnes of grapes, Moorak was born in the 2018 vintage.

“I love to produce lighter bodied reds, which I see cinsault as a perfect variety for the style. The challenge has been trying to find a vineyard which has it, that’s available to purchase, and grown sustainably/organically.”

“I was drawn to establishing my own label through seeing wine as a creative process, and the never-ending learning there is within the industry,” says Hein. “When making the wines, I also wanted to make my own decisions in the process. So, trying to steer clear of limitations, I took the leap and chose the hard way in establishing the business solely on my own.”

That gamble paid off, and Moorak is now based in a winemaking facility in McLaren Vale – shared with Slow Lane and Orbis Wines – with grapes sourced from across South Australia. “I’ve been lucky to team up with some other producers in establishing a completely off grid facility, not connected to any mains in order to reduce our carbon emissions,” Hein says, noting that the power inputs are solar and water is either rainwater or bore water.

From backyard wine to having his own label was a rapid process, and his education was very much one of experimentation. “I began with little knowledge of winemaking, and a focus in producing raw wines. Mistakes were made, of course… I believe raw wines are the most difficult wines to make, hence why I was attracted to the challenge. Learning by trial and error, I was able to calibrate the outcomes of my techniques, how they influence, and how much so. It was a very risky way of learning, but I feel I wouldn’t have been able to have the understanding I do today without it.”

There are now 12–14 wines made under the Moorak label, with an average of 30 tonnes processed each year. All wines are fermented with ambient yeast, with no filtration or fining, and a “considered use of sulphur”. All production and bottling are completed in-house. “My aim is to use the ability of creative methods in the winery to create unique influences in my wines, while upholding the quality of the fruit and sense of place,” says Hein.

The range includes a co-lab with Ministry of Beer to make a super-early picked red semillon that had some skin contact before being soured in barrel, then dosed with fresh grenache juice to re-ferment in bottle to make a blonde sour wine. Not all the wines are quite that experimental, though, with subtler touches such as putting lightly botrytised riesling through full malolactic fermentation then raising on full solids for 6 months for a textural take on the grape.

“Each new release is a testament to improve the last, not through an aim of consistency but expression,” says Hein, “avoiding the traditional styles seen as common, while still being approachable to all consumers. I like to say that they are distinctive wines that show alternative winemaking influences while maintaining expression of variety, and its place. I intentionally make them slightly alternative in style, while trying not to be confronting or aggressive in the result.”

Jordan Hein’s (Moorak wines) vintage abode at a collaborative facility in McLaren Vale is a distinctly Australian version of a Chateau.

That approach is seen through the reds, which veer from the more seriously structured to those pitched in a bright and fresh mould, which is something of a theme for the Moorak wines. “I love to produce lighter bodied reds, which I see cinsault as a perfect variety for the style. The challenge has been trying to find a vineyard which has it, that’s available to purchase, and grown sustainably/organically.”

Hein overcame this by finding a grower in McLaren Vale that is suited to the variety and uses sustainable practices. “They’re open to converting a variety in lesser demand over to it,” he says. “I see opportunities like this as beneficial for both the grower and producers. It supports growers who may have uncontracted or lesser demand varieties to create a stronger future for their vineyards, while also providing new opportunities to producers.”

This close collaboration with growers is a feature of Hein’s program, and for him it’s a two way street. “Working with a broad range of regions in South Australia has created more adaptability and offerings in wine styles,” he says. “Each region has its particular characteristics, so I’ve always been drawn to using this as a tool of diversity in the wines I make. It’s also brought new relationships with multiple growers that have allowed me the opportunity to purchase their exceptional fruit and teach me over time about their focus on sustainability and their practices.”

It’s a long term project for Hein, and one that is constantly morphing. “It’s evolving each year, which I hope it continues to do . At the moment, it’s the challenge of using creative influence without shadowing the fruit’s place. I love the creativity in unique expressions in a wine. Producing an outcome that’s standalone, especially when others may even be purchasing grapes from the same vineyard/block.”

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