BlackJack was the name given to an American sailor who, during the goldrush era of the1850s jumped ship and found his way to the Castlemaine goldfields. A road adjacent to BlackJack Vineyards still bears his name. Perhaps following a similar dream but in search of liquid gold, the McKenzie and Pollock families planted their first vines in 1988. Further planting in 1989 completed the initial four-hectare vineyard development of mainly Shiraz and Cabernet with a small area of Merlot.
BlackJack vineyards released its first wine in November 1994 and in the short intervening period has established an enviable reputation for producing fine and generous red wine. It is the Blackjack philosophy to produce consistent high quality red wines that reflect the vineyard and vintage variations. Beautiful in every season, Blackjack Vineyards offer a friendly welcome, a chance to taste some excellent full-bodied reds and talk about the joys and despairs of grape growing and winemaking in historic Central Victoria.
Each vintage, BlackJack Wines produces an exciting and highly acclaimed portfolio of dry red tablewines. Visitors to the winery now see a hillside planted with rows and rows of well-tended vines. Beautiful in every season, Blackjack Vineyards offer a friendly welcome, a chance to taste some excellent full-bodied reds and talk about the joys and despairs of grape growing and winemaking in historic Central Victoria. Over a dozen vintages of BlackJack Shiraz have been released, a classic Australian shiraz style that's big, bold, flavoursome and with the potential to develop in the cellar for at least a decade.
The relatively recent addition of the Block 6 Shiraz to the Blackjack range made an immediate impact at the 2004 Royal Melbourne Wine Show, winning the Premier's Trophy for best Victorian wine of the show, and the Winery Supplies Trophy for best shiraz in the open classes. The 2003 vintage won the top gold medal in its class at the same show. Block 6 is adjacent to the original shiraz plantings but produces quite a different style of wine, more savoury than sweet, and aptly described by some critics as being much more Rhone-like.
BlackJack Cabernet Merlot is made in traditional open fermenters, then aged in small oak barrels for nearly two years, this medium-weighted and complex dry red shows hallmark varietal flavours of mint, blackberry and cassis. BlackJack Chortle's Edge Shiraz can be best described as a Monday-to-Thursday wine, a delightful medium-bodied, flavoursome shiraz made for easy everyday drinking. While there is some lovely oak in the background, it is essentially a fruit-driven style of red with predominantly cherry and plum flavours.
James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion has elevated BlackJack Wines to the maximum five-star rating, reflecting "An outstanding winery capable of producing wines of the highest calibre". The rating places BlackJack among the best four producers in the Bendigo district and in the top 8.5 per cent Australia-wide. Reviewing individual wines, he awarded Blackjack Shiraz and Block 6 Shiraz with the maximum rating of five glasses, outstanding wines of the highest quality, usually with a distinguished pedigree. Campbell Matttinson writes of BlackJack, "Last year's was a beauty and so too is this. Wow, this is terrific at any price. Sweet coconut and mint rises over savoury , peppery plums, the savouriness and sweetness clubbing together into a seriously seductive package!"
BlackJack proprietors and winemakers, Ian MacKenzie and Ken Pollock, are pleased and proud each and every vintage to release their range of reds, "We sincerely believe that all wines show excellent varietal and regional character. At the end of the day, or vintage, the overall character of the wine is essentially determined by the unique combination of the local environment and seasonal climatic variations. Our philosophy at Blackjack Vineyards is not to interfere with this natural process too much. In a sense, to let the grapes, the vintage, talk."