It’s not an unfamiliar story for a top sommelier or restaurant/bar owner to be lured into decamping from their night job and setting up shop on the other side of the fence, making wine. Nor is it uncommon for a sommelier to dabble in making wine, to greater and lesser degrees. What is less typical, is to find said person running two of the country’s most successful wine and food endeavours, while also not just making wine, but running two vineyards, as well as sourcing select parcels of fruit, with all the headaches that are involved.
Jayden Ong is the co-owner and founder, with Andrew Mc Connell, of Cumulus Inc. and its wine bar sibling, Cumulus Up, and is responsible for overseeing the front of house and wine mentoring. On the other side, he and his wife, Morgan, own a property on Mount Toolebewong, in the Yarra Valley, where they have close planted a vineyard at significant elevation, which they tend organically. Additionally, they now hold a long-term lease on the Chestnut Hill Vineyard, on Mount Burnett, which is a fruit source of fabled quality.
Jayden cut his teeth at one of Melbourne’s legendary wine bar/restaurants, the now sadly defunct Melbourne Wine Room. Towards the end of his six-year stint there, finishing in 2006, Jayden took up a distance education Wine Science Degree at Charles Sturt University. He also completed vintages at Curly Flat, Moorooduc Estate, Allies and Garagiste, while also swinging the doors open at Cumulus Inc. in 2008, and Cumulus Up in 2012.
His One Block label was launched in 2010, focusing on select parcels of fruit from the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula. Today, the One Block wines are joined by La Maison de Ong, Moonlit Forest and the eponymous Jayden Ong ranges. Across the wines, the focus is on quality of site and then hard work in the vineyard, with organic practices and use of compost and cover crops, with no herbicides or pesticides employed. Winemaking is simple, with natural ferments, minimal sulphur, no fining and only minimal filtration, if necessary.