A true family-vineyard in sunny Nelson

Owners Daniel & Ursula Schwarzenbach

We’re happy being small and staying small.

There are huge advantages for us both personally and professionally in being able to control the entire process from the vines to the marketing.

At harvest time I’m there sorting every single bucket of fruit. Anything that’s not right gets biffed and then I’m 100% confident of what’s going into the tanks. I really believe that if you get it right in the vineyard that’s where the great wine comes from. When I worked for big companies there was none of that interaction with every step.

Suddenly 20 tonnes of grapes arrived and it was the first time I’d seen the fruit. Whereas here, I’m really hands-on and out among the vines all the time, looking at the weather patterns. Do we need to take a few more leaves off or is it going to be a hot summer? Should we leave a few more leaves on? Do we need new machinery? Should we tweak the filtration system? I’m always looking to improve both the winery side and every step in the vineyard.

We don’t want to lose the ability to be this involved so if we get to about 5000 cases that’s probably the limit to stay hands-on the way we are now. We like the fact that when Ursula and I have a board meeting, it’s at the dining table. Ursula does the budgeting and I can say ‘well, have we got a budget to experiment with this idea, it may not work but I think it’s worth a shot.’ This is so much easier than trying to be innovative in a corporate structure! Being this size also means we can stick to our winemaking philosophy of simplifying processes with absolutely no compromise.