One of the last of the Croatian immigrant winemakers in West Auckland has died.
Ivan Farac, 83, ran Grandview Estate vineyard in Massey. He sold over the counter and his cellar door was a meeting place for people from the West Auckland community and further afield.
Ivan and wife Zdravka came from Korcula in Croatia in 1958 and settled at Chamberlain Rd in Massey before buying a nearby Don Buck Rd property to set up their winery.
He worked for the Waitemata Electric Power Board while planting vines, peaches, strawberries, corn, tomatoes and capsicum.
The whole family, including their four children, tended the property. Before and after school the children would walk the property shaking tins with stones in them to scare birds away from the fruit. Mrs Farac kept the home and tended the vines too.
They won many awards at various wine shows, proudly displayed in the cellar.
Mr Farac worked most days for 40 or more years from sun up to sun down on the property, establishing a clientele which included celebrities, millionaires, other winemakers, nearby residents and people from throughout the upper North Island.
Helpful to many older people in the area, Mr Farac pruned their grape vines if asked, gave away plants and offered advice.
He had a good memory so seldom wrote anything down as he would know what wine was in a particular barrel. After meeting a customer once he would often produce the wine preferred the next time without being prompted, no matter how much time passed since the first visit.
Mr Farac enjoyed talking with his customers and had a wide general knowledge. He maintained ties with his homeland and was a keen sports follower, particularly soccer.
He was especially proud of his family.
Housing now nearly surrounds the Farac property in what was once a rural area, and the vines were removed just a few months ago.
Mr Farac is survived by Zdravka, their children Jean, Teresa, Valerie and John, and five grandchildren.
- Western Leader
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