A winery owned by a remarkable Nazi concentration camp survivor debuts at this Saturday’s annual Gibbston Wine and Food Festival.
Alex Kaufman – who lives in Queenstown’s American sister city, Aspen – founded Kalex Wines after buying two blocks of Gibbston land in 2002.
A Polish Jew, Kaufman was captured by Nazis along with the rest of his family after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, during World War II.
Put to work for 12 to 14 hours a day laying railway tracks in a labour camp, he escaped on a slow-moving train though guards shot his foot.
Till the war’s end he survived in a forest for four years, earning what he could by helping villages rebuild – his other family members were killed.
After the war he studied chemistry in Germany, left for America and ended up making a fortune owning a chemical company after starting there as a lab dish-washer.
An Entrepreneur of the Year award winner, Kaufman sold his company in 2007.
The 88-year-old, who has a conflict resolution centre in the US, still visits New Zealand regularly.
His wine company produces boutique rieslings, chardonnay, pinot gris and pinot noir.
Saturday’s festival will feature Kalex Wines’ 2011 pinot gris, new-release dry and medium 2012 riesling, limited release 2011 chardonnay and pinot noir from his first-ever vintage in 2009 as well as 2011.
Kaufman’s plonk will be among 12 wine stalls – also represented are Brennan Wines, Coal Pit Winery, Gibbston Highgate Estate, Gibbston Valley Wines, Hawkshead, Mt Rosa Wines, Peregrine Wines, Rockburn Wines, Valli, Waitiri Creek Wines and Wild Hare Wines.
Locally-made Broken Heart Gin will also have a stall.
There’ll also be 13 food stalls, including one for the kids, and master and blending classes.