Media articles and press releases from our Nelson family vineyard

So intense - Michael Cooper's Sauvignon Blanc feature in the Listener

New Zealand Listener

In this week's New Zealand Listener, Michael Cooper takes a look at New Zealand's outstanding Sauvignon Blanc from the 2020 vintage.

We are proud to see Blackenbrook prominently featured in the line-up with a 4 ½ Star review:  

"Estate-grown in Tasman, this hand-picked wine is fragrant with penetrating, ripely herbaceous flavours showing excellent delicacy, a touch of barrel-ferment complexity and a crisp, dry, lasting finish."

Summer is just around the corner - we have the wine for you! 

Blackenbrook wins Trophy for 2020 Pinot Blanc

Two trophies for the winery’s new varietal in as many years

22 October 2020

Blackenbrook Pinot Blanc 2020 awarded Trophy from New Zealand International Wine Show

Blackenbrook Vineyard’s 2020 Pinot Blanc received the Trophy in the ‘Other White Wine Varieties’ class from the New Zealand International Wine Show at its awards announcement last night. This is the winery’s second vintage of Pinot Blanc and second trophy in prestigious competitions honouring alternative white wines.

The New Zealand International Wine Show (NZIWS) is the largest wine competition in the country. This year Bob Campbell MW chaired a panel of senior judges who awarded a record number of gold medals. The judges included leading winemakers, several Masters of Wine, and many key industry personnel, most of whom have been involved in major wine competitions for more than a decade. Judges expressed delight to see a New Zealand made Pinot Blanc topping the ‘Other White Wine Varieties’ class.

Owner and winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach says that 2020 was a near-perfect season for grape-growing generally, and the Pinot Blanc vines benefitted from another year in the ground to deepen their roots.

“The 2020 Pinot Blanc is a superbly balanced wine from what has been a stellar year for winemaking all-around. The Pinot Blanc fruit came pristine off the vine, a real joy to work with. You can taste the minerality in the wine from roots that have found their way deeper into the soil, continually searching for moisture and nutrients. Wine drinkers will notice that minerality as well as a zing from the combination of floral and spicy notes. It’s slightly more acidic, which means it’s fresher to drink. And it will be equally good for cellaring.”

Last year’s inaugural Pinot Blanc vintage won the Trophy in the New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition in the ‘Other Aromatic’ category. Mr Schwarzenbach was confident that this new product, matured in stainless steel to allow the fruit’s natural flavours to shine, would be pleasing to kiwi wine lovers. In fact, it was such a good vintage, he held some back in old barrels and added it to the 2020 vintage.  

Owner and winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach at Blackenbrook Vineyard, Nelson, New Zealand

“Adding in a bit of the 2019 helped bring some texture to the 2020 wine, which was honestly looking incredible anyway thanks to the quality of the fruit and the incredible growing season.” Adding wine from previous vintages brings depth to a fruit crop that is taken from the same site each year. It is one of the tools Mr Schwarzenbach uses to create his style of wine. Other wineries with more land and vines can blend with grapes from different soils to achieve their own unique vintage.

Mr Schwarzenbach is grateful to the team who worked in the vineyard this year, especially under the uniquely stressful conditions.

“Our family, the vineyard team, and the folks who hand-picked our grapes under extreme pressure ahead of the pandemic lockdown are all due immense thanks. We are honoured to win the Trophy and humbled by the accolades we are getting for this varietal.  

“I’m not surprised, however, that the Pinot Blanc is attracting awards and interest, though. We felt confident this particular grape, by growing it in our terroir and climate with our natural approach, would produce incredible wines for our customers to drink now and later.”

Purchase the 2020 Pinot Blanc online at and at select retailers found on our website. Read more information about the varietal and its previous awards in our News section.

Ursula Schwarzenbach
03 526 6888 or 027 434 0697

Download Media Release here.

Trophy-winning Blackenbrook Nelson Pinot Blanc 2020

About Blackenbrook Vineyard, Nelson, New Zealand

On a gentle north-facing slope near Tasman Village, you’ll find Blackenbrook Vineyard, a small volume, high quality winery on a 20ha block owned by Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach. Blackenbrook Vineyard produces seven grape varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and the Italian red variety Montepulciano. Blackenbrook Vineyard is accredited by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand.

It is a winery designed by a working winemaker. In this region, vines grow into Moutere clay soils and the mild maritime climate sweeps over the hillsides. The vineyard was first planted in the spring of 2001 and the first vintage was launched in 2004. Healthy soil, strong vines and sustainability are the focus of the vineyard management. Daniel, also the winemaker, strives for minimal interference with natural processes, which has resulted in pure and genuine wines. Most of Blackenbrook’s white varieties – including the 2019 Pinot Blanc – are completely unfined and vegan.

Download Media Release here.

Blackenbrook's burst of clean, rich flavours from 'exceptional' 2020 vintage

The Nelson Mail, 17 Sept 2020, by Neil Hodgson 

Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach, The Nelson Mail 16 Sept 2020

A few weeks ago Ursula Schwarzenbach asked me if I would like to visit Blackenbrook Wines to taste their 2020 vintage. Of course I said yes (who wouldn’t!).

Over the years I have been mightily impressed by Ursula and husband Daniel and the wines they craft. As Daniel said to me last week “to be honest 80 per cent of the winemaking happens in the vineyard, I just have to finish the process in the winery.”

This understates just how much effort the couple and their young family put into creating their delightful wines. Located on the sloping hills at Tasman, up the road behind the Tasman Store, the vineyards are managed with intense detail to ensure the fruit is in the best condition possible to turn into wine.

The 2020 vintage was notable for the Covid-19 lockdown during which the wine industry was granted essential services status to be able to harvest their once-a-year export crop.

At Blackenbrook Vineyards however the final pick happened on the day before lockdown started, “we were due to finish on the Friday so by working longer hours for a few days we were able to get all the fruit picked and into the winery before lockdown”.

Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach, The Nelson Mail 16 Sept 2020

Ursula told me their assistant winemaker headed back to Germany early to beat lockdown restrictions but as school was also locked down their son Thomas was able to step in and help. “He has always been around the winery and helped in every aspect from the vineyards to the bottling line so he knows his way around the winery, it was just full time as assistant to Daniel for a week or so.”

The couple are also delighted with the quality of the vintage this year. “It was exceptional” says Daniel and I must say that based on the wines I tried last week I agree.

For me the wines at Blackenbrook have a certain purity of flavour to them. It’s a character I find difficult to describe but the wines tend to have a perfect expression of the varietal flavours and I’m certain this comes from the meticulous vineyard management that means less intervention in the winemaking process in the winery.

“Some of the wines pretty much make themselves,” says Daniel. Beautiful clean fruit equals beautiful clean flavours. “For wines like sauvignon blanc and pinot blanc we didn’t do anything in the winery, we just need a good ferment to turn great, clean fruit into nice wine, we try and use very gentle processes so we don’t lose the flavours.”

I tasted seven new release wines in the hour and a half I spent at Blackenbrook and tasting notes for all of these are on my website  but one worth a special mention here is the 2020 Pinot Blanc. This is the second vintage for this variety at Blackenbrook and what a stunning wine it is!

The aromas are intense, bursting with rich cooked pear and stonefruit characters that are dusted with delightful floral notes in the background. The richness of the aromas is reflected in the weighty, delicious flavours, balanced with a touch of freshness and deliver liquorice-like characters in the very long finish. This is a five-star wine and one that will certainly find itself attached to my credit card and a place in our cellar.

Nelson Aromatics impressing New Zealand's leading Masters of Wine

Blackenbrook's aromatic Pinot Gris 2019 from Nelson, New Zealand
We were thrilled to read the glowing review Emma Jenkins MW and Jane Skilton MW recently published on their web site "The Independent Wine Monthly":

Nelson’s Blackenbrook Vineyard is a quintessential New Zealand producer: a small, family-owned winery, owned by nice people quietly getting on with making perfectly nice wines.

Ursula and Daniel Schwarzenbach farm 8ha of vineyards in the Moutere clays, where they produce a tidy suite of wines ranging from the expected: sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, pinot gris, gewurztraminer and chardonnay, to the slightly less expected: pinot blanc and montepulciano.

Wines are unfined and vegan-friendly. The recent release of their aromatic whites yielded a selection of competent, fruit-focused, approachable wines, showcasing 2019’s warm, sunny harvest.

The 2019 Pinot Gris has a soft baked apple, rich ripe pear and softly spiced gingerbread, this is fruity but not overt on the nose. The palate is fruitier, medium-bodied and off-dry with a fairly delicate texture and touch of phenolics. Lacks a little acidity and freshness on the finish.

There are just 11ha of pinot blanc grown in New Zealand and not much of that is bottled as a single variety. The 2019 Pinot Blanc has a spicy nose akin to pinot gris but with more stonefruit than treefruit. A juicy palate, quite broad and ripe, with a clean, dry, slightly savoury finish.

The 2019 Gewurztraminer has a richly aromatic with rose petals, Turkish Delight and quince. A little hoppy too. The off-dry palate is more delicate than nose would lead you to expect, pear-drop and Turkish Delight with light phenolics on the finish.

Read the article here

Vintage year amid virus turmoil

The Nelson Mail 1 April 2020, by Neil Hodgson

Daniel Schwarzenbach, winemaker at Blackenbrook Vineyard, Nelson, New ZealandI was recently reminded of an old Chinese saying 'may you live in interesting times'.  One thing I am very confident won't change  is the quality of the 2020 wine grape harvest. It's shaping up to be one of the very best in many years.  

While I haven't been able to visit a few wineries and taste the fresh grape juice as the fruit is pressed, winemakers I trust implicitly are delighted with the quality of the fruit they have been harvesting, and yes, they are able to harvest during the lockdown because when grapes are ripe they need to be picked.  [...]   

Valley Neale from Brightwater Vineyards told me they hand-harvested their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay without any contract labour, just her and her husband Gary, their son, viticulturist and winemaker so "we had a few very long, hard days but the effort was worth it because the fruit was in beautiful condition and we know we this will make some great wines this year."

Todd Stevens, Winemaker at Neudorf Vineyards, Nelson, New ZealandVintage at Neudorf wound up on Monday and Rosie Finn told me "This vintage is notable for the fantastic commitment of the crew. Everyone has been reliable, consistent and kept their (and our) spirits up. Todd, our winemaker and Stef, our viticulturalist have been incredible leaders in such difficult times. Fruit wise, 2020 looks great, we've been blessed with the weather right through summer and early autumn."  

One winery facing some significant logistical issues is Seifried Estate, they have a number of vineyards and are the region's largest wine producer so managing not just the harvesting but also the processing has been a real challenge but, once again, the fruit they have harvested promises to deliver some outstanding wines this year.  [...]
At Blackenbrook Vineyard Daniel Schwarzenbach is one very happy man. "We harvested the last of our fruit at 2pm on the day before lockdown so we were able to keep our workers onsite until we finished.

Thomas Schwarzenbach at Blackenbrook Vineyard, Nelson, New ZealandWe don't have a cellar hand this year but our 16-year-old son, Thomas, has stepped up to fill the role beautifully.  "He has worked around the vineyard and winery almost his whole life so he knows how everything works and what needs to be done, he even worked with me in the winery until 2am a couple of days and was up again at 7am and straight back in to it. We have had some huge days. 

"The quality of the fruit we have harvested is right up with the very best we have ever had, we got everything picked before the rain started so the benefits of the long, hot summer show in the pristine fruit. It was so clean, without any rot or other disease pressure, we could just pick it and process it, it made for easy and fast work for our pickers.

"We are just really happy with how vintage has gone and with the fruit we have, the biggest challenge for the whole industry is going to be selling the beautiful wines we are making this year."

Like every business local wineries will need your help to survive and thrive into the future so if you need to top up your wine stocks over the next few weeks think about having it delivered to your door by a local winery that employs local people. Just go to their websites and choose your favourite drop, most wineries have free delivery options too.
To find a list of local wineries go to Wine Nelson  [...]

Read the entire article here


Yvonne Lorkin recommends our Gewurztraminer 2019 in Canvas, NZ Herald's Lifestyle Magazine

Yvonne LorkingIn this week's Canvas well-loved wine commentator Yvonne Lorkin recommends our Blackenbrook Nelson Gewurztraminer 2019 to go with Annabel Langbein's recipe for Char-grilled Butterfly Tandoori-style Chicken - a truly mouth-watering combination!

Here's what Yvonne Lorkin says about the wine:

"This Gewurztraminer unleashes a lahar of luscious stonefruit succulence and tropical taste sensations on the nose and palate, alongside a sprinkling of ginger, white pepper and nashi niceness. Crisp, textural and deliciously dry on the finish.  It wraps itself around this tasty tandoori terrifically."



Read the article from Canvas, New Zealand Herald's Lifestyle Magazine here.

Blackenbrook awarded trophy for its Pinot Blanc - first-ever vintage wins Champion in category

22 October 2019

Trophy-winning Blackenbrook Nelson Pinot Blanc 2019The ‘gold of golds’ Champion Trophy Medal was awarded to Nelson winery Blackenbrook Vineyard for their first-ever vintage of Pinot Blanc at this year’s New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition in the ‘Other Aromatic’ category.Held last week at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Canterbury, the New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition, in its 16th year, focuses on aromatic wines, such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, and other varieties, including Muscat, Verdelho, Arneis, Rose and Sauvignon Gris, made in an aromatic style from any internationally recognised region.

Blackenbrook’s 2019 Pinot Blanc was launched only last month, quickly receiving 4.5 stars from Michael Cooper MA ONZM, author of the annual New Zealand Wines: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide. Blackenbrook owners Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach are thrilled at the reception their newest wine has received.

“Balance and clean varietal characters in our wines are really important to us,” Daniel says. “It’s always rewarding to receive recognition for the hard work our vineyard team and family have put into creating our signature wines, like the Pinot Blanc. With only 11 hectares of Pinot Blanc grapes planted throughout New Zealand, mostly used for blending, we knew it would be a challenge to introduce an unfamiliar wine to Kiwis.

“And yet, they have embraced it. Sales have been brisk, the feedback from customers very positive, and now this wonderful Trophy Medal – all in a few weeks, what an amazing ride!  After many years of planning, tending the young vines and anticipating the new style it is gratifying to see people’s eyes light up when they take their first sip.” 

Read more about how Blackenbrook created its latest wine, the 2019 Pinot Blanc, on its website. All of Blackenbrook’s wines can be purchased at


Ursula Schwarzenbach
03 526 6888 or 027 434 0697

Images of the 2019 Pinot Blanc bottle are available upon request.

Download Media Release here.

About Blackenbrook Vineyard, Nelson, New Zealand
On a gentle north-facing slope near Tasman Village, you’ll find Blackenbrook Vineyard, a small volume, high quality winery on a 20ha block owned by Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach. Blackenbrook Vineyard produces seven grape varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and the Italian red variety Montepulciano. Blackenbrook Vineyard is accredited by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand.
It is a winery designed by a working winemaker. In this region, vines grow into Moutere clay soils and the mild maritime climate sweeps over the hillsides. The vineyard was first planted in the spring of 2001 and the first vintage was launched in 2004. Healthy soil, strong vines and sustainability are the focus of the vineyard management. Daniel, also the winemaker, strives for minimal interference with natural processes, which has resulted in pure and genuine wines. Most of Blackenbrook’s white varieties – including the 2019 Pinot Blanc – are completely unfined and vegan.
Download Media Release here.

Winery's evolution turns a blanc canvas into a work of art




The Nelson Mail 11 Sept 2019, by Neil Hodgson 

Daniel Schwarzenbach of Nelson's Boutique Winery Blackenbrook VineyardIt was a serendipitous visit to Switzerland that led Blackenbrook winery's Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach to produce a new pinot blanc. 

OPINION: I have been a fan of Blackenbrook Vineyard's wines for years. In fact, I have been following the evolution of this family business since their first wines hit the market in 2004.

Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach moved to Nelson in 1998 and both initially worked at Seifried Estate. They always intended to buy some land and establish their own vineyard and wine label so, while both working they spent their spare time searching for the perfect site to plant their own vines.

In 1999, the couple bought a piece of rolling hillside land at Tasman overlooking the estuary and planted their first vines in 2001, had children in 2003 and 2007 and launched their first wines in 2004.

Working long days at one job and then coming home to work even longer hours in their own vineyard showed how this couple are prepared to work incredibly hard with a determined focus to produce the very best wines they can.

Daniel and Ursula have always been mindful of their environmental footprint and designed a winery that has as little impact as possible on the natural environment, including all wastewater from the winery being collected and used for irrigation.

It was also designed to be as gentle as possible when it comes to handling and processing the grapes they grow. They want the wonderful varietal flavours of each wine to shine.

The couple recently introduced solar energy into the winery, now use an electric forklift and customers can also give them the packaging back for reuse. All of this is to further reduce their environmental footprint.

The experimental evolution of Blackenbrook has been with varieties they produce - riesling has come and gone (to my disappointment) and muscat has also come and gone from the vineyard.

"Basically they were the wrong varieties for the site and as we learned about our land we knew other varieties would do better," said Daniel.

"Riesling struggled to ripen enough before autumn rains arrived each year and muscat was always an experiment. From eight or nine vintages of muscat we only had three crops worth making wine with.

"As much as we love the variety and the wine we made it just doesn't make sense to make wine one year in three."

The riesling was replaced with more chardonnay and they were looking for another aromatic variety to replace the muscat.

Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach at releasing their award-winning Nelson Pinot Blanc"Daniel came back from judging a wine competition in Switzerland, the Mondial des Pinots, where various types of pinot are judged (pinot noir, pinot gris and pinot blanc all have the same genetic links) and he was really taken by many of pinot blanc wines he tasted, he thought it would do very well on our site," said Ursula.

Pinot blanc can be quite a bland variety but Daniel says it really does depend on how you grow the grapes.

"It takes the right site, intensive work in the vineyards and low cropping levels but it is also a very versatile variety," he told me.

"You can go in the direction of a chardonnay by aging the wine in oak barrels, towards a fruity pinot gris style or even towards a spicy gewurztraminer style depending totally on how the grapes are grown. It is one variety that is wonderful when produced on the right site."

Blackenbrook have planted three clones of pinot blanc with Daniel saying "there's very little difference in the vineyard while the vines are young but we do expect to see some small differences as time goes by."

"The key difference is likely to be seasonal where one clone does better than others depending on the weather during the growing season."

There is a total of approximately 11ha of Pinot Blanc planted in New Zealand, including some at Greenhough Vineyards "but a lot is blended away as a structural component in another wine, some is aged in old oak like Greenhough do with theirs.

"I thought it could do really well in our clay soils and the first vintage is looking very promising for the future of Pinot Blanc in our vineyard," Daniel said.
"Because we had a vine nursery here when we established the vineyard we had trialled various rootstocks, the 3309 root stock is particularly suited to our soils and climate, it is a deep rooting rootstock so handles dry weather very well, the pinot blanc vines we planted are all on the 3309 rootstock."

Ursula told me the first harvest of their pinot blanc went better than they had hoped for.

"We had perfect ripeness before the rain came, and because we put so much effort into making sure the vineyard was in peak condition to handle any adverse weather the fruit was harvested in great condition."


Award-winning Blackenbrook Nelson Pinot Blanc 2019

So what does this very first Blackenbrook pinot blanc taste like?
The pale lemon-gold colour sparkles in the glass and because the wine is made with very low levels of sulphur and relies on natural CO2 from the fermentation process as a preservative it has a delightful spritz on your tongue when you first taste it.

The 6-8gms of residual fruit sugars delivers a lovely rounded texture without being heavy and the beautifully ripe, low pH acidity balances the wine nicely.
This is an outstanding new wine for Blackenbrook, a wine packed with flavour, a wine that is textural in the mouth, a wine that has juicy acidity in the finish and a wine that is beautifully clean.

The hallmark varietal purity we have all come to expect from Blackenbrook wines shines brightly and it is anything but a bland Pinot Blanc, it is a wine with personality made in a style everyone will enjoy.




First Pinot Blanc released - a fresh, new option for white wine lovers

5 September 2019

Daniel Schwarzenbach with the first release of Blackenbrook Pinot BlancBlackenbrook Vineyard is releasing its first vintage of Pinot Blanc, which Michael Cooper MA ONZM, New Zealand’s most acclaimed wine writer and author of the annual New Zealand Wines: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide, has called “attractively-scented, vibrantly fruity and mouth-filling.” Mr Cooper awarded it 4.5 stars.

Winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach says the new Pinot Blanc is virtually a one-of-a-kind wine in New Zealand.

There are only 11 hectares of Pinot Blanc planted in the country. Nearly all of these grapes are blended into other white varietals or matured in oak, which brings the texture and flavour closer to a Chardonnay.

“But Pinot Blanc is aromatic and fruit-driven all on its own. We have made the wine in a way that allows the varietal flavours to shine by maturing it in stainless steel rather than oak. This way the grape expresses its pure style from our Nelson vineyard.”

When fermented in stainless steel, Pinot Blanc tastes more in line with its close relative Pinot Gris.

“If you love Pinot Gris, you’ll really enjoy our Pinot Blanc,” Daniel says. “We have three wines made in a similar way – Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Gewürztraminer. In terms of flavour, our Pinot Blanc sits right in the middle between our floral Gewürztraminer and our nutty Pinot Gris. It’s crisp and floral and aromatic.

“I think people will find the Pinot Blanc is beautifully balanced, has amazing fruit components, and will be really pleasing to drink. The fruit-driven style will suit the palates of New Zealand wine drinkers who look for young, vibrant yet elegant wines. 

“However, if you want to experiment and let it age a bit, it will become richer and have a more complex texture over time.”

Daniel Schwarzenbach with the first Blackenbrook Pinot BlancDaniel was inspired to plant Pinot Blanc grapes when he judged a European wine competition in the mid-2000s and tasted some of their tank fermented Pinot Blanc wines.

“I was absolutely blown away by the flavour. It was totally unexpected. I knew then that I wanted to grow it back home in New Zealand and that it would be a perfect fit with the other wines we produce in the style of the Alsace region of France.”

Most Pinot Blanc wine is produced in Alsace, Germany, and Italy. Daniel spent time working in Alsace early in his career, and it has had a significant influence on his style of winemaking.

“In Alsace, Pinot Blanc grapes grow in older soils and can be quite minerally with floral stonefruit flavours. You get more depth of flavour with the older soils, but I really think our first vintage has intense flavour characteristics already. The vines are still young and, as the roots grow deeper, we hope to get close to the concentration of flavour that you find in Alsace.”

Daniel says Blackenbrook’s Pinot Blanc is an original, fresh option for white wine drinkers.

“The focus with all our wines is balance. We want you to enjoy them with or without food. You shouldn’t have to guess whether our style is dry or sweet – our style is always balanced, always drinkable. The Pinot Blanc is no different. In fact, it’s eminently drinkable!”

Award-winning Cod & Lobster Brasserie on Trafalgar Street has added the 2019 Blackenbrook Pinot Blanc to their spring wine list. General Manager Rebecca Kirk says it will be an ideal match for their seafood dishes: “It’s juicy but still has a bit of dryness, its up-front sweetness is noticeable, but it’s not sugary because the acidity gives it structure. I’m certain our customers are going to love it.”

Blackenbrook’s 2019 Pinot Blanc can be purchased directly at It is served in selected cafés and restaurants throughout Nelson Tasman: ‘where to purchase’ information can be found on


Ursula Schwarzenbach
03 526 6888 or 027 434 0697

Download Media Release here. 

About Blackenbrook Vineyard, Nelson, New Zealand
On a gentle north-facing slope near Tasman Village, you’ll find Blackenbrook Vineyard, a 20ha block owned by Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach. Blackenbrook Vineyard produces seven grape varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and the Italian red variety Montepulciano. Blackenbrook Vineyard is accredited by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand.
It is a winery designed by a working winemaker. In this region, vines grow into Moutere clay soils and the mild maritime climate sweeps over the hillsides. The vineyard was first planted in the spring of 2001 and the first vintage was launched in 2004. Healthy soil, strong vines and sustainability are the focus of the vineyard management. Daniel, also the winemaker, strives for minimal interference with natural processes, which has resulted in pure and genuine wines. Most of Blackenbrook’s white varieties – including the 2019 Pinot Blanc – are completely unfined and vegan. Read more on

About the Pinot Blanc variety – from
Pinot Blanc, a white mutant of Pinot Noir, has sometimes been confused with Chardonnay as they share regions of origin, physical characteristics, and taste profiles. Pinot Blanc resembles the more famous grape’s medium body and rounded apple/stonefruit, while its less distinctive (or just less obvious) individual character makes it less planted and more often used for sparkling wine.
However, in cooler climates where it retains acidity, like Italy’s Alto Adige, ‘Pinot Bianco’s’ neutrality allows elegant still whites with textural richness and focus on its particular subtle nutty/mineral characters. Now hardly planted in its native Burgundy it is more so in Alsace, with a little in Germany and Austria and promising New World examples from cooler climates in South America, New Zealand and Canada’s Okanagan valley.

Download Media Release here

High praises for Blackenbrook Gewurztraminer 2017

Neil Hodgson reviews Blackenbrook Nelson Gewurztraminer in the Nelson MailFantastic to see Neil Hodgson's latest review in the Nelson Mail:

This Gewurztraminer is typical of the Blackenbrook style, beautiful winemaking that delivers clean flavours true to the varietal

In this case the lovely ripe fruit aromas tease the senses but the flavours deliver on the promise.  Lively spiced pear, lychee and soft ginger flavours abound in the rich but not over-powering palate, a medium to dry style wine that delivers excellent value. 

Joining a silver medal from the recent Bragato Wine Awards is a four star rating from me. 


Vegan Vino - Michael Cooper's column in the latest New Zealand Listener



Vegan wines and the "vegan food revolution" are the topic of Michael Cooper's column in the latest New Zealand Listener.  The trend is growing and an increasing number of consumers are seeking out vegan wines. 

wMichael Cooper looks at various ways of making vegan wines and includes our winery as prime example:  |

Blackenbrook Vineyard near Nelson, which has a gravity-fed winery, reports that it doesn't add finings, "because we don't need to ... gravity does most of the work".

As a mouth-watering vegan example he recommends our Blackenbrook Pinot Gris 2017:

Estate grown at Tasman, this is an aromatic, softly mouthfilling wine.  Made in a medium-dry style, it has lychee, pear and spice flavours that show excellent vibrancy, delicacy and depth. 
4 Stars. 

Thank you Michael!

Read the entire article here.







Our Gewurztraminer impresses wine writer Neil Hodgson

We were thrilled to read Neil Hodgson's wine review in last night's Nelson Mail:

Blackenbrook Gewurztraminer 2016, 4 1/2 Stars
Oily and textural in the mouth, the wine is simply packed with flavour but isn’t too heavy, rather it is opulent without being cloying and has lovely acidity in the very long finish. Perfect with any dish that has a little spice.

The Nelson Mail, 22 Nov 2017

Michael Cooper's top 25 New Zealand Pinot Gris

   The New Zealand Listener

INew Zealand wine commentator Michael Coopern this week's Listener Michael Cooper recommends his top 25 New Zealand Pinot Gris. 
We're extremely proud to see our Blackenbrook Pinot Gris 2017 in the line-up:  

Blackenbrook Nelson Pinot Gris 2017, 4 Stars
Estate-grown and hand-picked, this partly oak-aged wine is aromatic and softly mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), with richly varietal lychee, pear and spice flavours, showing excellent vibrancy, delicacy and depth, and an off-dry finish.

Read Michael Cooper's article here.  



Restaurant & Cafe Magazine featuring our Blackenbrook Vineyard

Fantastic to see our Blackenbrook Vineyard featured in the Restaurant & Cafe Online Edition: 

Restaurant & Cafe Magazine


Daniel & Ursula Schwarzenbach of award-winning Nelson winery Blackenbrook"Ever since first meeting at a wine tasting dinner in the Swiss Alps, Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach had the dream of planting their own vineyard in New Zealand, building a winery and marketing the wine under the Blackenbrook label.

The name Blackenbrook is a translation of the family name – Schwarz meaning black, and Bach meaning brook, or creek. “This is our philosophy in a nutshell” explained Ursula. “We are a family vineyard, concentrating on producing the best possible wine from our 8ha vineyard.” The family aspect of the business even extends to the Schwarzenbach children, Thomas (13) and Isabelle (9), who, according to Ursula, are great helpers – “although it’s possible that they don’t get a choice!” [...]

Daniel and Ursula are first generation winemakers. “It would be wonderful to see one or both our children following in our footsteps and one day taking over Blackenbrook. With our sustainable vineyard practices, we tread lightly on the land, hopefully ensuring a long and prosperous future for the vineyard.” At the moment Blackenbrook vines occupy less than half of the total section, leaving the option open for future expansion or experimentation.

“Wine is a living thing, wine is art and creativity, but also chemistry – and above all, it is different every year. There is never a dull moment as a winemaker!”

Read the entire article here. 


Himmelsfeld - 25 years in the making

Elisabeth Eggers of Himmelsfeld Vineyard, Upper Moutere, NelsonHimmelsfeld Vineyard has just turned 25!  Owner Beth Eggers planted the vineyard all those years ago and Daniel has been making her wine since 1998.  She is profiled in the latest Nelson Grape & Wine Magazine.  

Here's an excerpt from the article:
"After spending more time in Europe I was clear in my mind that the vineyard would remain small and I would like to grow fruit to make quality wines, and hopefully wines that would cellar well.  

I needed someone who could nurture the fruit through its winemaking process and Daniel Schwarzenbach, a man of excellence, has enabled Himmelsfeld to reach its levels."




Thank you Beth, we are proud to walk this journey alongside you!



A pure, focused vision - Blackenbrook making head-lines in Wine NZ

Super-stoked to read Charmian Smith's article in the latest Wine NZ Magazine:

A pure, focused vision

Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach in their award-winning Nelson wineryIn these days of corporatisation and expansion it’s unusual to find winemakers who have decided to restrict their growth, but that’s what Daniel Schwarzenbach of Blackenbrook in Nelson is doing. 

Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach have an unusually tight focus in both their operation and the style of wine they make at Blackenbrook in Nelson. [...]

The Swiss couple have no aspirations to expand beyond making 6000 cases of wine, a little up from the 5000 cases they produce from their 8ha vineyard at present, and that is to meet export demands from Germany and Japan.

They have declined requests to do contract winemaking and recently bought their own bottling plant so they are completely self-sufficient, explains Daniel.

“We want to stay focused on making premium quality wine, and produce, market and sell it ourselves." [...]

Read entire article here.
Wine NZ Magazine, winter 2017, page 22

Mauricio Lloreda tending the award-winning vines at Nelson's Blackenbrook Vineyard

World Class Pinot Noir

News Release - for immediate release
11 March 2016
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Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach of Nelson's Blackenbrook VineyardBlackenbrook Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 has won a Gold medal and Best in Show for New Zealand Red Wine at one of Europe’s leading wine competitions, the Mundus Vini Grand International Wine Awards in Germany.

This is the latest in a series of top-shelf wine industry accolades for the Tasman-based family vineyard.

“Mundus Vini Grand International Wine Awards is now judged twice a year, in February and in August, with nearly 10,000 wines submitted each year,” says Blackenbrook Vineyard co-owner Ursula Schwarzenbach. “Mundus Vini judges are extremely tough and being awarded a gold is a very significant achievement.”

Ursula and Daniel Schwarzenbach are more knowledgeable than most about the rigorous judging process, as Daniel usually chairs a panel at the August tasting. 

Gold and Best in Class from Mundus Vini International Wine AwardWinning gold at Mundus Vini is particularly important for Blackenbrook because Germany is a key export market for its wines. “This accolade will help our German importers to build a premium reputation for our wines,” says Ursula.

It’s particularly satisfying to see a Pinot Noir from Nelson doing so well, she says. “Nelson is producing world-class Pinot Noir but due to its small production only rarely features in the list of gold medal winners for this noble variety.”

“2014 was a fantastic vintage for us. All the factors lined up to produce amazing concentration in our grapes. All our 2014 wines are of exceptional quality, bringing home two trophies (for Gewürtztraminer and Reserve Pinot Noir) and three Gold Medals.

“From the day we picked the grapes for the 2014 Pinot Noir, Daniel was excited with the quality, always maintaining that this would be the best Pinot Noir so far produced at Blackenbrook – it’s great to see his gut feeling was right!”

Daniel Schwarzenbach with grapes for  gold-medal-winning Nelson Pinot Noir 2014

Control from grape to glass

The Nelson Mail, 13 October 2015
by Neil Hodgson

Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach at their Nelson vineyardOne of the really exciting things about small, boutique vineyards and wineries is that the owners are generally prepared to try different things.

Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach established Blackenbrook Vineyards (Blackenbrook is the English version of the family name) at Tasman at the start of this century.

Their first full vintage was in 2004 and when they planted the first part of the land in vineyards some of the varieties they chose were untested in the area and they just didn’t know whether or not the varieties planted would produce the quality of fruit they needed to allow them to make outstanding examples of these varieties.

The vineyard land is formed from Moutere clay soils, gently sloping north facing and while slightly elevated is reasonably close to the coast so is exposed to cooling mid-afternoon sea breezes. Small quantities of some Gewürztraminer, Montepulciano and Muscat were planted along with the more common Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The focus of the aromatic wines produced by Blackenbrook is on the varieties and style of Alsace in France while the fuller style red variety Montepulciano is one the Schwarzenbachs thought they might be able to get to fully ripen on their site. Time has now told us that the site they chose is exceptional and, combined with intensive viticulture, a winemaking facility that is designed to treat the grapes and resulting wines very gently and masterful winemaking techniques, is now producing some stunning aromatic style wines as well as delicious, flavoursome Montepulciano with a twist of minty freshness that reflects its cool climate location.

In making any wine the real work takes place in the vineyard because without great fruit winemakers can’t weave their magic and turn the fruit into great wine. The Bragato Wine Awards are designed to recognise the work growers put in to producing the great fruit; if the fruit is great then winemakers don’t need to weave too much magic, they can just let the fruit express itself in the finished product.

The effort that goes in to producing beautiful grapes in an environmentally sustainable way shouldn’t be underestimated; at Blackenbrook it all starts with the rain water that is gathered for use in the winery to clean tanks and washing down during production.

In the vineyard, working with a couple of staff, Daniel ensures everything that needs to be done happens with meticulous care and attention to detail to ensure the quality is there from the beginning. Good fruit is where great wine starts. The Schwarzenbach’s say “that without great long-term staff who understand the quality we want we wouldn’t be able to make the wines we do”.

Being in control of everything from the vineyard to the bottle is the reason for the latest step, taking control of the bottling process rather than relying on contract bottlers. They are installing a top-of-the-line bottling line using the latest technology that handles the wine in a very gentle manner. While this is a huge investment that includes construction of a new building at the winery it is one the Schwarzenbachs are confident will help keep them at the front of the pack when it comes to producing wines with pure varietal characters.

Back to the Bragato Wine Awards, it is a remarkable achievement that not only has Blackenbrook Vineyards won a best in class trophy five times in wine competitions but three of these are Bragato Trophies for the aromatic wines it produces providing more proof, if there was any doubt, they have an outstanding vineyard site and the meticulous work the Schwarzenbachs and their staff put into the vineyards results in great wines.

The first Bragato gold medal and trophy combination came in 2007 for their 2007 vintage Sauvignon Blanc (also won a trophy at the New Zealand International Wine Show 2007). The second Bragato trophy came in 2014 for their Pinot Gris 2013 and they followed it up with their third for Gewurztraminer 2014 which was awarded a month ago.

Of course to achieve results like this any small business needs to have the right people with the right attitude and Daniel and Ursula bring both of those attributes to their wine business, they continue to develop their wine making venture with a focus on purity of flavour in all of the wines they produce.

Blackenbrook Family Vineyard scores another impressive industry accolade

News Release - for immediate release
28 August 2015
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Ursula Schwarzenbach bringing Bragato Trophy for best Gewurztraminer home to NelsonMulti-award winning Tasman winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach of Blackenbrook Vineyard has scored another impressive industry accolade by winning a gold medal and the trophy for Best Gewürztraminer at the prestigious annual Bragato Wine Awards held in Napier on 27 August.

This is the fifth ‘best wine in class’ award at a national competition for the family owned and run vineyard and it cements Blackenbrook’s reputation for producing outstanding aromatic wines.  

Bragato Wine Awards are noteworthy because they recognise the grape grower rather than the vineyard and are awarded by fellow viticulturalists.

“We put our heart and soul into our wines,” said Daniel Schwarzenbach speaking from Germany where he is currently judging wine at the Mundus Vini International Wine Awards.

“Accolades such as the Bragato trophy tell us that we are achieving something really special here. We are humbled by this recognition from our peers.” 

Producing beautiful Gewürztraminer is the realisation of a long-cherished dream for the Schwarzenbachs.  “Before starting our vineyard I worked as a cellar hand for Alsace’s Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, one of the top Gewürztraminer producers worldwide,” said Daniel. “It was a fantastic experience and I couldn’t wait to get home to our patch of Tasman paradise to start planting our own aromatics.”

Ursula Schwarzenbach said that achieving another national award is a very proud moment for a small vineyard in a very competitive industry. “Gewürztraminer is a variety that we have been working really hard on and it’s very exciting to see that our work is paying off in the glass.”

“Blackenbrook is one of the highest-achieving wineries on the Nelson scene with a reputation for aromatic white wines - Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc - that are rich and full of personality.”
- Michael Cooper (renowned wine critic)


Excellent review for our Nelson Muscat 2014

Neil Hodgson's wine recommendation in the Nelson MailFantastic to see Neil Hodgson, wine commentator for the Nelson Mail impressed by the high quality of our Nelson Muscat 2014:  

"The Blackenbrook Muscat 2014 is made in an off-dry style but with plenty of fullness in the palate.  As we have come to expect from Blackenbrook the wines have a purity we don't often see, especially in this variety.  Flavours of spiced lychee and ripe orange citrus with spritz-like zesty acidity in the long finish make it a most attractive wine."

Thank you Neil Hodgson!

The Nelson Mail, 26 May 2015

Blackenbrook celebrates 10 years

Daniel & Ursula Schwarzenbach, owners of Nelson's Blackenbrook VineyardPhillip Reay of Wild Tomato Magazine used his latest wine column for a glowing summary of our first 10 years at Blackenbrook Vineyard: 

Blackenrook Vineyard recently celebrated its 10 birthday.  As vineyards go it is pretty young, not even a teenager yet.  Don't let its youth  confuse you.  Its wines would suggest a much more established vineyard. [...] 

The Sauvignon Blanc is an award winner with wonderful tropical tones, still fresh but without that green griping acidity. [...]  The Muscat is packed with flavour yet refreshing.  [...] 

For me the two white wine stars of this vineyard are the Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.  Both are made medium-dry, just as aromatics should be, and emulate the Alsace style.  These are wonderful wines with persistent flavour, superb mouth feel - unctuous and delicious.  The Gewurz just goes on and on, and the Pinot Gris is a wine that could turn you into an alcohloic.  It's impossible to put down. 

If you don't know this vineyard then you should.  A botle of Blackenbrook Pinot Gris 2014 and Blackenbrook Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 with Xmas lunch is a good way to start.  

Here is Phillip Reay's article

Blackenbrook celebrates another top award for Pinot Gris

News Release - for immediate release
12 November 2014
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Pure Elite Gold Medal from Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2014A personal passion for Pinot Gris has netted Blackenbrook Vineyard in Tasman near Nelson, its fourth top award within two months! Their 2013 Pinot Gris has just brought home a gold medal from the well-respected Air New Zealand Wine Awards, after also winning a gold medal and the Trophy for best Pinot Gris at the Bragato Wine Awards 2014, held in Blenheim in September.

But it’s not just the 2013 vintage that shines - the 2014 Pinot Gris has already been decorated with gold medals from Bragato Wine Awards 2014 and New Zealand International Wine Show 2014 before its official release in December.

Family owned and run Blackenbrook was one of the first vineyards in the Nelson region to plant Pinot Gris in 2001. Since 2007, owner and winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach has earned numerous five star ratings and gold medals for his Pinot Gris including a Trophy for Best Pinot Gris at the New Zealand International Wine Show (2008 Reserve Pinot Gris), a Bragato Gold (2008), and five stars (2009 and 2010) from leading wine commentators Michael Cooper and Bob Campbell MW (2007).
Renowned Wine Commentator Michael Cooper says “Blackenbrook is one of the highest-achieving wineries on the Nelson scene, with a reputation for aromatic white wines - Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc - that are rich and full of personality.”

Winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach with Trophy-winning Pinot GrisDaniel Schwarzenbach says he has always had a desire to produce outstanding Pinot Gris:
“Before starting our own vineyard, I worked as a cellar hand for Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace, one of the top Pinot Gris producers worldwide. It was a fantastic experience and I couldn’t wait to get home and start planting our own Aromatics.”

Pinot Gris always took centre stage in the Blackenbrook vineyard: the best part of their land was planted with the latest clones. “We hand pick the grapes and they’re processed as gently as possible through our gravity-fed sustainable winery. I believe that has a lot to do with the outcome in the glass,” says Daniel.

“I am delighted to see our Pinot Gris doing well year after year and each accolade spurs me on to keep fine-tuning my vineyard management and winemaking. Every year brings new challenges and there is so much more to be learnt about this wonderful grape variety.”

All Blackenbrook wines are 100% sustainably produced and accredited by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand. Their white and rose wines are vegan, certified by the New Zealand Vegetarian Society. The 2013 and 2014 top-rated Pinot Gris are available for sale directly from the Blackenbrook website.

Blackenbrook Vineyard Celebrates a Decade of Achievement

News Release - for immediate release
26 September 2014
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Daniel & Ursula Schwarzenbach at Blackenbrook's 10-year celebrationAcclaimed family-run winery Blackenbrook Vineyard is celebrating the 10 year anniversary since their first vintage and thanking the local community.

Renowned Wine Commentator Michael Cooper says “Blackenbrook is one of the highest-achieving wineries on the Nelson scene, with a reputation for aromatic white wines - Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc - that are rich and full of personality. Daniel and Ursula are currently celebrating their ten-year anniversary. It’s a major milestone, and as their vineyard matures – to say nothing of the benefits of winemaker age – Blackenbrook’s wines will surely get better and better.”

Winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach and his wife Ursula built one of the first gravity-fed wineries in the Nelson region and Daniel’s focus on ‘gentle processes’ and depth of flavour has earned them over 15 top awards and 12 Five Star ratings for their wine over the past decade. (See full list of awards under Note 1).

“We are very grateful to those businesses and customers who took the chance to try a new wine all those years ago. This anniversary is a time to look at where we’ve come from and to celebrate with the local community, who are such a big part of our journey” says Ursula Schwarzenbach. 

To mark the anniversary, Blackenbrook held a celebration at one of their first trade customer’s award-winning café, the Jester House. The other initial trade customers were Casa del Vino and Fresh Choice in Nelson alongside The Mooring (now Elevation Café) and Super Liquor in Motueka.

Now they sell to 85 trade customers nationwide and export to Japan, Germany and Switzerland.

Since 2004, when they produced 22452 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach and his wife Ursula have more than doubled production to around 50,000 bottles annually, now also including Gewürztraminer, Muscat and Montepulciano.

Winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach tasting at Mundus Vini in Germany“We have grown in many ways over the past decade both in terms of wine production but also in our knowledge of how to get the best flavours from our terroir,” says Daniel.

“From when we started, we have seen a lot more players enter the Nelson wine scene, some quite small without their own winery facilities. The larger wineries now all employ a good number of staff, including vineyard managers and winemakers. When we arrived in 1998 there was only one employed winemaker in Nelson, and that was Daniel at Seifried Estate. Weren’t we lucky to score that job – otherwise we could not have settled here!“ says Ursula.

The ten year celebrations also mark a change of direction in Blackenbrook’s look with a new logo, website and video.

The new logo (at the top of this page) combines the couples’ Swiss heritage with their deep connection to New Zealand through a stylised bunch of grapes made up of red koru – the red reflecting the couple’s Swiss heritage and the koru, their bond to New Zealand.

The history of their Tasman vineyard goes back to 2000 when they grafted their own vines to plant the first 4 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. “We used to burn the midnight oil as we both still held onto our day jobs,” laughs Ursula.

10-year celebration at the award-winning Jester House in Tasman, NelsonIn 2004 their first wine was produced and the Blackenbrook label launched – the name being an English translation of their surname. Over the years they’ve added Riesling, Gewürztraminer and the Italian red variety Montepulciano. For their third vintage, a modern gravity-fed winery was opened on site and alongside this, the couple also started a family - Thomas, 10 and Isabelle, 6, who have grown up along with the vines.

While the couple are no longer out tending vines with head-torches at night, they’re still extremely hands-on and involved in every aspect of the business – Daniel as vineyard manager and winemaker and Ursula taking charge of marketing and sales.

Vintage 2014 was their largest ever and Daniel is excited about the vibrant new wines: “The 2014 wines have an amazing flavour concentration and balance, reflecting the fantastic conditions we had in the vineyard.”

The passion for winemaking is even stronger now than when they started.

Daniel Schwarzenbach: “We’ve just processed the ninth harvest in our winery and I still love working in there. It’s functional, it’s gentle, it’s clean and it just feels right. “


Note 1: Since 2004: 6 Trophies (Best of class of the entire wine competition), 9 Gold Medals, 12 x 5 Star ratings, mainly Michael Cooper and Bob Campbell MW; 15 x 4 ½ Star ratings, mainly Michael Cooper and Bob Campbell MW; and numerous Silver Medals and 4 Star ratings. Most prestigious awards went to Blackenbrook Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2007 which received 3 Gold and 3 Trophies (Bragato Wine Awards, New Zealand International Wine Show, South African Sauvignon Blanc Competition) – an amazing achievement for a Nelson Sauvignon Blanc, stepping out of Marlborough’s shadow.
Blackenbrook ‘s most recent awards were three gold medals and a Trophy in the last month:
• Gold & Trophy from the Bragato Wine Awards 2014 for Pinot Gris 2013
• Gold from Bragato Wine Awards 2014 for Pinot Gris 2014
• Gold from New Zealand International Wine Show 2014 for Pinot Gris 2014

Note 2: David Letsche Photography produced the new video which will be used to share the Blackenbrook story with customers in New Zealand and overseas.

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