Adelaide Hills wine bushfires

Bushfire crisis: public urged to buy Adelaide Hills wine

December 31, 2019
By Alana House

Australians have been urged to buy wine from regions devastated by the ongoing bushfire crisis.

As the full extent of the devastating Adelaide Hills bushfires becomes apparent, it is clear that the region will require public support through the rebuilding process.

Sandy Clark, Chairman of Australian Grape & Wine said: “We would like to express our sympathy to all those who have suffered damage to their vineyards and wineries, both in the Adelaide Hills and elsewhere.

“We understand that the threat of further losses continues at this time, and we will seek to work with the State and Federal government to ensure the appropriate relief is provided.

“We have been delighted by the rapid action from the Marshall Government with the establishment of a new emergency relief fund to help people directly affected by the Cudlee Creek bushfire, and pledging $1 million to kick-start the donation drive. The State Emergency Relief Fund has been activated following a formal declaration of the Cudlee Creek fire as a declared emergency.”

Petaluma Adelaide Hills wine bushfires
Petaluma winery in the Adelaide Hills

Tony Battaglene, Chief Executive, added: Importantly we now require public support. We need Australians to donate to the relief funds, visit the region, buy its wine and support its other businesses.

“The rebuilding process will be slow, but the public has already rallied and we, and Wine Australia, have had many expressions of support from across the country and from our counterparts in New Zealand, the United States, Chile and Argentina.’

“It is not only the Adelaide Hills that has suffered this year. We also express our sympathy to those in other regions who have lost property and vines, suffered smoke damage to grapes and are struggling with drought, and water shortages, leaving many without a crop this vintage.

“The impact of these fires would be much worse without the efforts of our firefighters. I would like to pay tribute to those volunteers of the country fire service and all the firefighters around the country who are doing a fantastic job.”

Winery loses all but four dozen bottles

About 20 Adelaide Hills wineries were affected by the pre-Christmas bushfire, with the region losing about half its annual crop, valued at $100 million, or more than 1000 hectares of vineyards.

The burnt area contains one-third of all Adelaide Hills vineyards.

One of the worst-affected wine producers was Tilbrook Estate in Lobethal, which lost everything aside from eight six-bottle packs of wine at the cellar door.

The wine was auctioned at Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market to raise funds for the vineyard. 

Tilbrook winery Adelaide Hills wine bushfires

James Tilbrook posted pictures of the vineyard on Facebook and wrote: “This is inside our winery. Just one charred (empty) barrel left. All the bottled wine has exploded. The heat was that intense it melted empty bottles. All the equipment is fire damaged/ stuffed.

“At the moment still trying to process it all. Our biggest problem is that we have lost our livelihood, which means we can’t pay our mortgage or other outgoings.

“We have insurance but practically speaking this won’t keep us going. It will pay for rebuilding.

“First target is to get to vintage. I am sure with all the offers of support we’ll be able to make some wine. That’s three months away. Then the next target is to get the wine in bottle. That’s three to 12 months from Vintage. Once we have wine again we are back in business.”   

Backburning might have ruined Hunter Valley crops

Wine growers in the NSW Hunter Valley have told ABC News that millions of dollars of crops may have been destroyed by smoke from recent backburning operations near the town of Broke.

“If it has impacted the way it looks like it has, it will wipe out the entire crop of grapes from the Broke Fordwich area,” winemaker Andrew Margan said.

“It’s a whole year’s crop that we’ve spent the whole year growing and we’d probably be starting to pick next week.

“I have 25 people employed and what are we going to do for a year? I don’t know. We can’t afford to lose a year’s crop, but at this stage I’m afraid it’s looking that way.”

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