Thomas Schwarzenbach holding a bright orange shovel at the grape receival area of the winery.  He is shoveling Pinot Noir grapes out of a stainless steel vat.  In the background is the press in front of grey coloursteel walls.

Gravity fed

Whenever possible, we use gravity to process the vineyard’s prized fruit. This is to minimise mechanical handling and the resulting bitterness in the young wines.

We load the grapes into the press using a forklift with rotating head instead of an auger. After pressing, the juice drains into the settling tanks down in the main winery, 4.5m below the receival area. From here, the young wine is moved only once more before the pre-bottling stage in June.

Extended time on lees

Variable capacity tanks with air-tight lids and stringent quality control during hand-picking mean Daniel can keep the young wines on gross lees for several months without risking reductive flavours.

The natural CO² from the fermentation protects the wine and the extended lees contact adds flavour and creaminess.

View from the Winery's top floor down into the main winery. Winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach moves a small stainless steel tank around with a red pallet trolley.  On both sides there are large wine tanks and the floor is concrete.

Minimal fining

Designing the winery, Daniel’s main focus was to reduce the need for fining, a process to eliminate unwanted components in the wine – often bitterness. But it also means a loss of flavour and colour.

Each time grapes or young wines are handled mechanically, bitter components are released. This is why we hand-pick all our fruit. The grapes are not de-stemmed, but loaded as whole bunches into the press. We do this with a forklift with a rotating head instead of an auger or must-pump. Gravity rather than pumps are used to transfer the wines from one stage to the other.

Daniel’s winemaking style leads to balanced wines with bright natural flavour and minimal bitterness. Sauvignon Blanc and the Aromatics are completely unfined, while a slight fining is necessary for the barrel-aged wines.

Blackenbrook wines are a true reflection of our fruit and our land.

Winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach holds up a ruler next to a bottle of Blackenbrook wine sitting on a blue shelf in the winery while the new vintage is being bottled.

Innovative filtration

Wine filtration can be an invasive step in the winemaking process. But winemakers need to filter to prevent cloudy wines from reaching the bottle. At Blackenbrook, we have opted for innovation in order to reduce both the environmental impact and interference in the natural evolution of the wine.

Like many New Zealand wineries we started out using depth filtration. The wine passed three times through a plate and frame filter, initially through course filter sheets, then medium and finally sterile-grade. This meant we had to pump the wine three times and clean three lots of tanks and filters, while the wine lost CO² each step of the way.

With the help of a local engineer, Daniel re-invented the filtration process. Together they amended the equipment so it can take three different grades of filter sheets in one go. This enabled Daniel to move Blackenbrook wines from cloudy to sterile in a single pass. It’s quieter, energy efficient, easier on the environment, and much gentler on the wine.

Certified vegan

We don’t use classic fining agents such as fish, milk, or egg extracts, and only use minimal additives.

This means our wines are natural and vegan friendly. In fact, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and Rose are certified by the New Zealand Vegetarian Society.

A blue plate with vegan semolina mousse on a bed of pear and water cress salad.  In the background there is a bottle of Blackenbrook Reserve Gewurztraminer with a 4 1/2 Stars Michael Cooper award sticker.
Owner Ursula Schwarzenbach accepting the Trophy for best Pinot Gris at the Bragato Wine Awards 2014.  She is holding the crystal trophy in front of her.  In the background there is a screen displaying the Bragato Wine Awards logo.


In 2021 Blackenbrook produced nearly 3,600 cases of wine. Our awards include:

2020 Pinot Blanc – Trophy for Best Other White Wine, New Zealand International Wine Show
2019 Pinot Blanc – Trophy for Best Other Aromatic Wine, New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition
2019 Family Reserve Pinot Noir – Gold Medal, Aotearoa Regional Wine Competition
2014 Family Reserve Pinot Noir – Best in Show for New Zealand Red Wine, Mundus Vini Grand International Wine Awards, Germany
2014 Pinot Gris – Gold Medal, New Zealand International Wine Show
2014 Pinot Gris – Gold Medal, Bragato Wine Awards
2014 Gewurztraminer – Trophy for best Gewurztraminer, Bragato Wine Awards
2013 Pinot Gris – Trophy for best Pinot Gris, Bragato Wine Awards
2013 Pinot Gris – Gold Medal, Air New Zealand Wine Awards
2007 Sauvignon Blanc – Trophy for best Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand International Wine Show
2007 Sauvignon Blanc – Trophy for best Sauvignon Blanc, Bragato Wine Awards