The Chardonnay vines at the Kumeu River Vineyards, outside Auckland, New Zealand, experienced a novel form of processing last Saturday afternoon, November 4, when a light plane crashed through several rows. The Cessna plane, owned by Whenuapai’s Aviation Sports Club, experienced engine failure at 2,000 feet and was forced to make an emergency crash landing. The pilot was the only person involved in the crash and was able to walk away without major injury. He did not begin the flight alone, however: he had five experienced skydivers at take-off who were able to escape before the crash.
The crash was not the only hallmark for the vineyard in recent past, as this year marks the 20th anniversary of the first release of Kumeu River’s Chardonnay. The winery, founded in 1944 by Mick and Katé Brajkovich, has been continued by their children and grandchildren. The family owns various vineyards in the area and produces 11 different wines, but it is the Chardonnay made from the vines at the crash site that has received the greatest acclaim and success in the United States and other international markets. Fortunately, the damage from the crash was minimal and, according to vineyard manager Michael Brajkovich, “It won’t cause any significant disruption to supply.”
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