Michael Brajkovich MW has been honoured as the 2024 Winemakers’ Winemaker, at a ceremony during ProWein today (12 March 2023).

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.

The New Zealand native is recognised by many as the pioneer of the Chardonnay movement in the country and for spearheading the use of screw cap closures. In 2001 he transitioned all Kumeu River Wines to screw cap closure. Michael is a champion for wild yeasts in winemaking and continues to experiment and develop his technique as a winemaker. His wines continue to impress, perhaps most notably the Hunting Hill Chardonnay.

Cathy van Zyl MW, IMW chair, said “It is an honour to be able to announce Michael as the recipient of this award. He is an inspiration to many and the passion and dedication that he puts into his winemaking is evident in every glass.”

Michael studied Oenology at Roseworthy College in South Australia, where he was Dux in 1981. After graduation Michael returned to the family vineyard and winery in Kumeu to take up responsibility for wine production. Since, he has travelled extensively through the world’s wine areas and had the opportunity to spend the 1983 vintage in France with the reputed house of Jean-Pierre Moueix in Libourne, near Bordeaux.

In 1989 Michael passed the MW examination becoming New Zealand’s first member of the Institute. He has many years of experience judging at the New Zealand National Wine Awards and also has judged at the Australian National Capital Wine Show in Canberra, the Royal Hobart Wine Show in Tasmania, the Perth Royal Wine Show, and was Chair of Judges at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show 2015-17.

Michael is mid-harvest at the Kumeu River estate so was unable to attend the awards reception at ProWein, Dusseldorf. The award was accepted on his behalf by fellow Master of Wine, Matthew Deller MW (CEO Wirra Wirra).

Michael also shared a video message with reception guests and samples of his 2022 Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay.

Via video message, Michael Brajkovich MW, said “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”.

Michael thanked two previous winners and long time associates, Peter Gago (2012 winner) and Jean-Claude Berrouet (2018 winner). Having worked with Jean-Claude Berrouet in Pomerol and St Emilion in 1983, Michael says Berrouet served as both an inspiration and a guide. He emphasised that winemaking is a team effort and credited his family who are actively involved at Kumeu River.

With reference to his family Michael said, “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 Tibbets who who’s been with the family business for 50 years and continues to help us make great wine.”

Michael now joins the impressive list of previous winners: 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) and Jean-Louis Chave (2022). Due to the global pandemic, there was no award given in 2020, 2021 and 2023.



For more information contact:
Belinda Eaton
Marketing and Communications Manager
Institute of Masters of Wine
+44 (0)207 383 9136

Notes to editors:

About the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW)
The IMW is a membership organisation with an exceptional international reputation. For 70 years, its members – the Masters of Wine (MWs) – have been at the forefront of leadership and expertise in the world of wine. The IMW’s mission is to promote excellence, interaction and learning across all sectors of the global wine community. MWs prove their comprehensive understanding of wine by passing the MW exam, recognised worldwide for its rigour and exacting standards. In addition to passing the exam, members must sign the code of conduct before they are entitled to use the initials MW. This requires them to uphold the highest standards of commercial conduct within the industry. Today, there are 417 Masters of Wine working in 31 countries. The membership encompasses winemakers, sommeliers, buyers, journalists, shippers, consultants, viticulturalists, academics, educators and more. There are 349 students from 40 countries in the 2022-23 MW study programme. The IMW works with 37 supporters and four research and industry associates, who help promote the IMW’s mission. The five principal supporters are Austrian Wine, AXA Millésimes, Champagne Bollinger, Constellation Brands and VSPT Wine Group.