The Institute of Masters of Wine is the home of exceptional expertise in the wine world, founded over 70 years ago to establish an exam for the UK wine trade.  ‘Master of Wine’  is now a globally recognised title held by a worldwide family of MWs. Today, there are 417 MWs based in 31 countries.

Following on with Jancis Robinson MW OBE receiving the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award, Michael Brajkovich of Kumeu River wines in Auckland has been honoured as the 2024 Winemakers’ Winemaker, at a ceremony during ProWein trade fair in Düsseldorf.

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.

In 1989 Michael passed the MW examination becoming New Zealand's first Master of Wine. Recognised by many as the pioneer of the Chardonnay movement in New Zealand and for spearheading the use of screw cap closures in the country. In 2001 he transitioned all Kumeu River Wines to screw cap closure.

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.

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 (CEO Wirra Wirra).

Michael prepared a video message with reception guests and a glass of his 2022 Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay.

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 mentioned two previous winners, Peter Gago (2012 winner) and Jean-Claude Berrouet (2018 winner). 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 Tibbits 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: 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.