Matthias Utzinger Utzinger Wines

Top Winemakers

In the Tamar Valley, Matthias and Lauren Utzinger planted their vineyard in 2018 – now certified organic – at an impressive density of 6,500 vines per hectare. Wines for the ‘Utzinger’ labels come from their own land, as well as three additional vineyards where Matthias is hands-on in the vines – he has the vigneron ethos that wine are “grown, not made”. The Utzinger wine range showcases Tasmanian classics such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and a ‘Fumé’ Sauvignon Blanc. Looking ahead, the Utzingers plan to introduce alternative varieties to their range, importing vine cuttings from Matthias’ homeland of Switzerland, promising an exciting future for this Tasmanian project.

Matthias wine journey started started with an apprenticeship as cellar hand in Switzerland, followed by a degree in Viticulture and Enology, alongside advancing roles across renowned vineyards in Switzerland, Geneva, and Provence, eventually finding his calling in the vine-clad terrains of Tasmania…

“Northern Tasmania is where my wife Lauren grew up and spent most of her childhood. We met one another in Iran and then decided to share a leg together… and after several months on the road, Lauren took me home to Tasmania at the end of 2015! Of course I fell in love with Lauren first but I definitely fell hard for northern Tasmania too. I love what this region offers in terms of reliability, creativity and possibilities when it comes to viticulture and winemaking. This is home for me now and the cool climate, the green hills, the varieties… It’s all a lot like my native Switzerland, just better.”

The Utzingers bought their farm in 2018 and “planted it all from scratch at a density of 6500 vines per hectare,” tells Matthias. “The first year we put 4 ha in and are now looking at putting a further two hectares in over the next two years. Our initial planting was to classic varieties: chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, syrah. Our new plantings will be to more unusual varieties – some we imported ourselves from Switzerland.”

“Utzinger Wines is a label that is very much focused on a clean, classical interpretation of the different varieties we grow. We believe that wine is grown, not made. All the fruit is sourced from our own vineyard or from vineyards we’re looking after.”

He continues, “We are also at the end of our third year of organic conversion. In addition to the work at our vineyard we’re also revegetating large areas of our land – over 3,000 natives planted – in order to create habitat for native wildlife, especially the eastern bared bandicoot and Tasmanian devils. We source fruit from three other vineyards we look after and consult on another 7 ha vineyard next door (Evenfall).”

Matthias Utzinger’s dedication to his craft begins with an intimate understanding of his vineyard. He articulates the complexities of starting with a young site, emphasizing the meticulous clonal selection and organic practices that are pivotal to his winemaking process. His words convey a deep connection to the land and a commitment to capturing its essence through careful stewardship and a detailed approach to viticulture.

“Working with a young site is a massive challenge when it comes to producing high quality wines. I decided to start from scratch because I couldn’t find a vineyard that ticked the right boxes in terms of clonal selection, plant density and trellis. Our site is the result of several years of studies of vineyards all over Europe, New Zealand and Australia. I selected the clones that I consider the most adapted to this site and that result in the most textural expression of each variety. Together with the above, the organic conversion over the last two years has led to a more mineral and in many ways more terrestrial expression of our wines. Our wines have become darker, more mysterious and I love this evolution…”

Utzinger’s journey is not solitary; it is enriched by the camaraderie and collective wisdom of the Tasmanian wine community. His gratitude towards the local vintners and pioneers reflects a shared ethos that drives the region’s winemaking forward, showcasing the collaborative spirit that defines Tasmania’s wine landscape.

“I absolutely love how we were welcomed here and the overall feel in the Tasmanian Wine community. Tasmania rocks. People encourage each other, help where possible and we’re stoked to be a part of the new generation down here that (hopefully) pushes boundaries even further… It’s quite amazing to work in a winegrowing region where some of the absolute pioneers are still around and are eager to pass on their knowledge onto the upcoming generation (Andrew Pirie and the Lubianas are amongst the people that helped us continuously and to whom we owe a lot).”

The essence of Utzinger Wines is encapsulated in Matthias’s vision for his label—a vision that emphasizes minimal intervention and a deep respect for the fruit. His intent is to let the vineyard’s character shine through in every bottle, offering wines that are not only a testament to his philosophy but also a true representation of their origins.

“Utzinger Wines is a label that is very much focused on a clean, classical interpretation of the different varieties we grow. We believe that wine is grown, not made. All the fruit is sourced from our own vineyard or from vineyards we’re looking after. The winemaking is kept intentionally simple, with small batch ferments, wherever possible wild ferments and no finning used. Our vision is to be hand off but clean and refined and to truly represent the place and year our wines are grown from.”

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