Last month, as part of our ‘local food heroes’ series of blogs, we took inspiration from the sea. Today we’re celebrating the rich fertile soils of our region, and more specifically, the clay soils found in the Moutere. Combine these with high sunshine hours and a gentle maritime climate, and you have a unique ‘terroir’. As we approach the festive season, it seems appropriate to raise a glass of something deliciously local. And at a time of year when families traditionally come together, we’re celebrating part of our extended Fresh Choice family. We are proud to have been part of, local winery, Blackenbrook’s journey from the very beginning.
Over fifteen years ago, we added Blackenbrook Pinot Noir 2003, the very first wine produced by this Tasman-based vineyard, to our supermarket shelves. Since then, we’ve seen their award-winning wines gain the recognition they deserve, and more importantly, continue to delight our customers.
Daniel & Ursula Schwarzenbach from, local winery, Blackenbrook:
Daniel & Ursula may both have roots in Switzerland, but their home is most definitely here in New Zealand. In fact, Daniel grew up in New Zealand from the age of nine. He later returned to Europe, where he worked with fine winemakers, soaking up generations of experience. He came back to his home with the wine-making knowledge he’d intended to. But, more importantly, he returned with Ursula. Together they developed local winery, Blackenbrook. They chose their land in Tasman, planted their vines together and shared the pride of their first wine release in 2004.
This ‘togetherness’ has continued to shape their business with Daniel and Ursula involved in the running of the vineyard every step of the way. Daniel manages the vineyard with a small team of fantastic employees and makes the wines. Meanwhile, Ursula takes care of marketing and administration. With the next generation of Schwarzenbach’s in their teenage years, Thomas and Isabelle are both a big part of the operation, so, most decisions are made at the dinner table.
The bottling is always completed by the family team during the winter school holidays, nine days of intensely working together. Everybody has their role in getting the wine safely from the tank to bottle, and everything works like clock-work. The reward is a family trip in the spring holidays.
We caught up with Ursula to find out more about the family-run, local winery, Blackenbrook.
An interview with Ursula:
What is it that makes Blackenbrook wines unique?
Well firstly, our Moutere clay soils. The clay retains a good level of moisture even in extremely dry years, eliminating the need for irrigation. Dry-farming encourages our vines to grow deep roots and to tap into the mineral stores hidden deep down in the gravelly clay layers.
These soils also add an intriguing minerality and depth to our wines. But, combine this with the dazzling Nelson sun and the fingerprints of our team, then mix in our drive for simplicity and quality, and you are left with Blackenbrook’s uniqueness.
Your family values are so obviously part of the Blackenrook story. How do you stay true to those as your business grows?
Well, we’ve decided not to grow despite having more prime vineyard land available. 8ha of established vineyard and a production of 60,000 bottles is perfect for us. Any bigger and we’d need to employ a lot more people and lose the close involvement that we enjoy so much.
Tell us a little bit about the Blackenbrook Family Reserve wines we stock at Fresh Choice?
In exceptional years we carefully select wines for our Family Reserve label. We feel they have that extra dimension and totally deserve a black label. They will mature beautifully for many years to come.
Ursula, what’s your personal favourite Blackenbrook wine?
At the moment it would be the trophy-winning Pinot Blanc 2020. I love its scent of jasmine and the spiciness which pairs so well with fresh asparagus, summer stir-fries or sweet-chilli prawns.
What has been your greatest business success?
Winning a Trophy in prestigious wine competitions for each of our first two Pinot Blanc vintages.
With only 11 ha planted in New Zealand, Pinot Blanc is a niche variety. We had little indication of how it would perform on our site or in the market place but decided to take the plunge and added it to our stable. We couldn’t be more pleased with the result.
What continues to inspire you in business?
Relationships – this is the real key to success in business, and more importantly, the enjoyment of it. At Blackenbrook, we build good relationships with our customers, be it trade in New Zealand, private wine lovers or export customers. This friendship fosters loyalty and amazing support as we can clearly see with Mark at Fresh Choice, Nelson.
Eating and Drinking Local this Christmas:
Just like the team here at Fresh Choice Nelson, the good people at, local winery, Blackenbrook believe that eating and drinking local is the freshest, most authentic way of enjoying food. It has the added benefit of supporting neighbours and friends while creating the smallest possible carbon footprint. So, Ursula has kindly supplied us with some inspiration for festive dining with a local flair. This Christmas enjoy…
- Pan-fried Blue Cod on a bed of spring vegetables with Blackenbrook Sauvignon Blanc 2020
- Manuka-smoked salmon with fresh coriander on cream cheese and sesame-seed crackers with Blackenbrook Pinot Blanc 2020
- Stir-fried Thai red vegetable curry with Blackenbrook Gewurztraminer 2018
- Barbequed aged venison steak with new potatoes and a salad of garden-fresh green beans, served with Mark’s favourite: Blackenbrook Family Reserve Montepulciano 2016.
Blackenbrook Deals for December:
Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Highly aromatic and focused, Blackenbrook Sauvignon Blanc 2020 is vibrantly fruity with pure passionfruit and gooseberry flavours supported by an interwoven thread of acidity.
After twelve months in oak barrels Blackenbrook Chardonnay 2018 brims with ripe pineapple, sizzled butter and bran characters, creating an elegant richness, a well-structured mid-palate and great length and focus.
Pinot Blanc 2020
Jasmine, pear and ripe nectarine define the playful bouquet of Blackenbrook Pinot Blanc 2020. The weighted palate is rounded off by a whisper of sweetness and an inviting, gentle acidity.