Michael Brajkovich MW wins 2024 Winemakers’ Winemaker award

Michael Brajkovich. Image courtesy Kumeu River

Michael Brajkovich MW, New Zealand’s very first Master of Wine, has been awarded the Winemakers’ Winemaker award in a ceremony at ProWein.

Presented by the Institute of Masters of Wine and The Drinks Business since 2011, the award recognises outstanding achievement in winemaking. Masters of Wine winemakers and the previous award recipients voted Brajkovich as this year’s winner.

“We’re all very proud to announce that Michael has been awarded the ‘Winemakers’ Winemaker’ by the Institute of Masters of Wine,” said the Brajkovich family.

“As we’re mid-harvest at the Kumeu River estate he was unable to attend the awards reception at ProWein, Dusseldorf. The award was accepted on his behalf by fellow Master of Wine, Matthew Deller (CEO Wirra Wirra).”

Michael Brajkovich prepared a video message expressing his gratitude for the recognition.

“I am absolutely delighted and deeply honoured to be recognised by my peers of the Institute… it’s a real honour to be included in the list of people who have won this award in the past and even more so because it is a recognition from members of the Institute and particularly winemaker members of the Institute,” said Brajkovich.

He acknowledged two previous winners, Peter Gago (2012 winner), whom he described as a “an old friend” and Jean-Claude Berrouet (2018 winner), a mentor of Brajkovich’s and “a real inspiration”.

Brajkovich emphasised that winemaking is a team effort and credited his family who are actively involved at Kumeu River.

“My brother Milan looks after the vineyards, sales and marketing is taken care of by my sister Marijana and brother Paul. The company was started by my late father Maté Brajkovich and continued by his wife (my mother) Melba Brajkovich. And I’d also like to mention Nigel Tibbits who who’s been with the family business for 50 years and continues to help us make great wine.”

Michael now joins the list of previous winners: Jean-Louis Chave (2022), Peter Sisseck (2011), Peter Gago (2012), Paul Draper (2013), Anne-Claude Leflaive (2014), Egon Müller (2015), Alvaro Palacios (2016), Eben Sadie (2017), Jean-Claude Berrouet (2018) and Angelo Gaja (2019). Due to the global pandemic, there was no award given in 2020, 2021 and 2023.

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