Respect, patience, and adaptability. Each is an integral part of the Kumeu River success story, not only in the making of good wine, but also in the making of a thriving family business that spans many generations. The Brajkovich family begins a new life in New Zealand The story of Kumeu River Wines began to unfold more than half a century ago with the first generation of the Brajkovich family to arrive in New Zealand; Mick and Katé and their three children, daughters Franka and Nevenka, and son Maté. In their small Croatian village of Živogošce, Mick and Katé had also farmed small plots of land and had experience tending vines and making their own wine. After a few years of working in the gumfields, the family moved to Henderson in West Auckland where Mick, Katé, and Maté worked in local vineyards and orchards. By 1944, they had saved enough money to purchase a Kumeu property with a small vineyard. Although the winery was steadily gaining reputation and status within the industry, it was the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that saw a marked evolution in the style and direction of the winery. In 1979 the winery moved away from the hybrids used for the production of fortified and basic red and white wines to varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. All popular and commonly known varieties today, but these wines were relatively unheard of at that stage, posing a bold and somewhat risky move for the winery. During the 1980’s Michael, Milan, and Paul became more involved in the business and the winery took on a new focus; quality and reputation. The winery changed its name to Kumeu River Wines and began producing a Burgundy-influenced style of Chardonnay that featured indigenous yeasts, extended lees aging, and malolactic fermentation. In the years since, the Chardonnays of Kumeu River have gained international awards and accolades.
The limestone-based vineyard at Rays Road in Hawkes Bay is a uniquely characterful Chardonnay. It has the aroma of citrus peel, flinty minerals and salty seashells. There are creamy, peach-like flavours on the mid-palate, but then it finishes firmly with zesty fresh acidity and a steely backbone on the finish.