Together with partner Julian Forwood, Bernice Ong created Ministry of Clouds in 2013. It marked a transition as “corporate refugees”, in their own words, from the marketing and distribution aspects of the wine world to diving into owning their own vineyard and creating their own wines. They complement their own fruit with old vine material from other regions – the majority of their grapes coming from their home region of McLaren Vale.
A combination of premium vineyards within McLaren Vale were used for the fruit sources of the Tempranillo and Grenache, including vines up to 100 years of age. The fruit was handled very gently to retain freshness and vibrancy, with the use of whole bunch and carbonic maceration in the winemaking process. The wine was aged in a mixture of stainless steel, old French oak puncheons (larger barrels) and a single large 5,000 litre old oak foudre from 11 months before bottling. Drawing inspiration from Spain, the blend speaks with a decidedly new-wave Australian accent, expressing restraint and poise and eschewing excessive alcohol and oak usage.
The short but exciting life of Ministry of Clouds has already been regularly recognised in the Australian wine world, with their inaugural releases being named in James Halliday’s ‘Top 10 New Wineries’. The name Ministry of Clouds represents the juxtaposition of their past security and structure aka “the ministry” of their past careers in search of freedom, independence and adventure to which they have no real control, just as we have no control over clouds.