Blackenbrook Vineyard grows seven grape varieties on eight of our 30 hectares of land in Tasman.
The beginnings of our vineyard and their evolution over the years, led by winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach, contribute to every glass of Blackenbrook wine.
Read more about our family winery's history.
From New Zealand to Europe and back again
Born in Switzerland, Daniel grew up in New Zealand from the age of nine. He lived in Hawke's Bay and later studied in Wellington for his first career as a medical biochemist and microbiologist.
In the early 1990s he was working in the UK and decided to follow his heart into winemaking. He returned home to study at Lincoln University, where he earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology.
With qualifications under his belt, Daniel returned to Europe to seek out its finest winemakers. He worked in Austria for respected Riesling producer Weingut Hirsch and in Germany for Weingut Engelhof. Swiss winemaker Georg Fromm, who has an enviable reputation for Pinot Noir both in Switzerland and in their Marlborough vineyards, infected Daniel promptly with his passion for this noble grape.
Now an experienced winemaker himself, Daniel is often asked to judge at international wine competitions. For more than a decade he has been representing New Zealand at the annual Mundus Vini International Wine Awards in Germany. He has also judged at the Vinalies Internationales in Paris and at the Mondial des Pinots in Switzerland.
One of the biggest influences on Daniel’s winemaking philosophy has been Olivier Humbrecht, the first Master of Wine in France. He is the owner and winemaker of the highly successful Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, regarded by many as the best winery in Alsace. Olivier is a pioneer in the field of bio-dynamics.
Following conventions is not Olivier’s forte, and that only makes him more imaginative. Based in the principles of grape-growing and winemaking, Olivier questions every step of vineyard management and winemaking. He looks for solutions that are simple, gentle, and better for the environment.
Daniel has followed Olivier's path, believing simple is best for the vines and the wines. He also specialises in wines that reflect the flavours and characters of the Alsace region.
Embracing Olivier’s elegant style, Daniel returned home to New Zealand in 1998. After working as chief winemaker for Nelson's Seifried Estate for four vintages, he and Ursula planted their own vineyard in Tasman and released the first wines in 2004.
For Blackenbrook, quality starts in the vineyard. From the location of the vines to the Moutere clay soils to the climate, Daniel and his team focus on balance.
They carefully adjust the crop load of each individual block according to soil vigour, and manual leave removal in the fruit zone helps control diseases.
Balanced vines produce fruit that is chemically in balance and the winemaking processes flow from there.
The foundation of Blackenbrook Vineyard is family. Our children, Thomas and Isabelle were born here and they have worked in the vineyard all of their lives, lending a hand wherever they were needed.
Thomas has now started an engineering apprenticeship, specializing in stainless and aluminium fabrication. After he finishes, just as Daniel did, Thomas plans to study viticulture and oenology at Lincoln University and work several vintages overseas to gain experience. Let's hope our family winery is set up for the next generation.
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