The production of good wine is complex, and each winery has its own unique combination of factors. At Kumeu River Wines, the most influencing factor is the family-focused approach. As a business, Kumeu River has some of the most qualified, experienced, and dedicated staff in the industry. As a family, working together is a dynamic and rewarding experience.
The Brajkovich family of four children; Michael, Marijana, Milan, and Paul, is headed by their mother, Melba. They're also joined by winemaker, Nigel Tibbits, who has been with the winery since 1974. Just as the various wines of Kumeu River each have their own distinct character, so too do the individuals who work so hard to produce them. Although their childhoods were all spent in and around the winery, each of the four children has diverse skills and life experiences that combine in perfect synergy.
Good wine takes time, skill, and dedication. The people of Kumeu River Wines combine each to deliver wine that is truly in a class of its own
When Melba Brajkovich met her husband Maté in 1957 she had very little knowledge of the business of winemaking. In the many decades since, she has become one of New Zealand's most experienced and knowledgeable women in the industry. Melba met Maté at a wedding when she was a primary school teacher, they married a short time later and have since had four children, Paul, Michael, Milan, and Marijana, all of whom are involved in the business today. Although Maté sadly passed away in 1992, Melba has remained heavily involved in all aspects of the business. Her expertise in the industry provides a fascinating source of knowledge and history during winery tours and functions. From its humble beginnings, to its distinguished standing in the industry today, the success of Kumeu River Wines has been a labour of love for Melba, and she looks forward to many more years of success as the business continues to flourish under a third generation of Brajkovichs.
Taking an agricultural product and transforming it into something truly special is something that Master of Wine, Michael Brajkovich finds incredibly satisfying. Michael, who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Oenology and is a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine in London, is Kumeu River's winemaker and a renowned and respected wine judge in both New Zealand and Australia.
Wine appreciation runs in the blood of the Brajkovich family with Michael being a third generation of winemakers, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Mick and father Maté. Although Maté had no formal education in the winemaking industry, his pragmatism and ability to stay grounded were key traits that Michael feels fortunate to have learnt from his father.
With a true enjoyment of his vocation and the support and expertise of a family who share a respect for quality wine, Michael looks forward to seeing Kumeu River Wines continue to gain international recognition and status.
Michael is married to Kate and has two children, Milla and Markus. With a true enjoyment of his vocation and the support and expertise of a family who share a respect for quality wine, Michael looks forward to seeing Kumeu River Wines continue to gain international recognition and status.
With a BE in Chemical Engineering, vineyard director Milan Brajkovich is the mind behind much of the machinery and technology at Kumeu River Wines.
As the vineyard's director, Milan manages a total of 40 hectares, including 10 hectares belonging to the various regional growers that supply Kumeu River. One of the things that Milan finds most fascinating about winemaking is the huge variations in taste that result from very minor variations in soil. “We have two vineyards that are practically next door to each other growing the same grapes in the same conditions, yet their minor soil differences are very obvious in the final product.” .
Milan is married to Karen and has two children, Matthew and Anna, and enjoys combining his love of good wine with good food. For Milan, creating better wine involves a careful series of minor adjustments and major planning, all of which begins within the vineyards of Kumeu River.
Looking for new ways to promote and market Kumeu River Wines is at the heart of Marketing Director, Paul Brajkovich's role. With a strong background in sales and marketing and a Bachelor of Commerce, Paul has been instrumental in securing Kumeu River's place within the international market.
One of the great pleasures of his role (aside from the mandatory wine tasting!) is the satisfaction of receiving and organising the many large orders that come through each week. And of course, the excellent customer feedback and accolades that follow are a good measurement of how well the wines are being received.
Married to Kelly and with two children, Maddy and George, Paul is actively involved within the local community and enjoys coaching his son's cricket team. And as the next generation of Brajkovich children grow up surrounded by the fascinating world of winemaking, Paul knows that Kumeu River Wines will be an integral part of the landscape for many more generations to come.
Working in a thriving family business where the day-to-day routine is very much a co-operative effort provides Marijana a great sense of satisfaction. Her background in sales and marketing and a Bachelor in Commerce is an enormous asset to Kumeu River Wines.
Growing up within the winery surrounded by three brothers has perhaps given Marijana some of her most valuable experience, both for her role within the business, and as mum to three boys of her own; James, Scott, and Charles. Marijana is married to Grant and enjoys balancing her family time with her involvement in many areas of the winery including financial management and marketing. Marijana credits much of the winery's early success to her father's pervasive presence within the industry. "Kumeu River Wines always has been, and always will be, a welcoming place where good wine and great hospitality come together in a family atmosphere of history and tradition."
Cellar Master Nigel Tibbits joined Kumeu River Wines when he was just 16 years old. Kumeu River was then known as San Marino Vineyards. As a school student, Nigel had been working at Cooks Wines during the school holidays when the opportunity for a fulltime job became available at San Marino. Learning the ropes from Maté, Nigel had a solid start to a career that provides him with endless variety and a huge sense of satisfaction.
Over the past three decades, Nigel has enjoyed being part of an industry where technology and technique have evolved immensely. Most of the winery's current vineyards originate from the nursery vines that Nigel tended during Kumeu River's formative years. Today, there is very little that Nigel doesn't do in his day-to-day role. From working in the laboratory to meeting with customers, Nigel's wealth of practical experience is invaluable in the on-going evolution of the Kumeu River style.