Update from Our Producers on the Fires in Australia
Bec Hardy, Wines by Geoff Hardy
Thanks for your concern. We’re all ok. The worst of the fires in South Australia have been confined to areas some 30km north from our K1 by Geoff Hardy vineyard. We are therefore unaffected by physical damage or smoke taint. We are the lucky ones. Sadly, we’ve had friends and associates badly affected by fires in the Adelaide Hills wine region of which a third has been lost. Our beautiful Kangaroo Island – a jewel in our State’s crown of eco-tourism — has also been devastated, and sadly, lives lost.
On the upside, fire has been a part of our landscape for tens of thousands of years. It is part of the regeneration of our ancient lands. We are a resilient, bush-loving people. Our communities are coming together to help those in need; many of our friends and neighbours volunteer for the CFS (Country Fire Service) and have been helping to fight these fires – even on Christmas Day. Together we will rebuild and help those in need; such is the Australian way.
Sean Shortt, Wingara Wine Group
Many thanks for your kind thoughts. Thankfully we are all safe and well, and our vineyards have not been affected by the fire or smoke. The same is not true for other parts of the country. I believe there is extensive fire damage in the Adelaide Hills and the Alpine regions of Victoria and NSW, not to mention smoke damage. This is dreadful for the entire communities of those towns, as not only are livelihoods lost directly in agriculture, but the impact on the local towns with loss of tourism is immense and will take years to rebuild. We have to commend the bravery of the local CFA (Country Fire Associations) who are chiefly volunteers from the various communities, and who have been battling these horrendous bushfires relentlessly. I am sure you have all seen the footage on television or media.
Andrew Cudmore, Berton Vineyards
Thanks for your concern and interests. The fire in five states of Australia has certainly been devastating for many people in different parts of the country, destroying a lot of land and houses; in some situations people have lost their lives defending their properties, not to mention the 500 million wildlife and stock that have perished.
Luckily, at this stage, our winery and vineyards haven’t been affected. Most of our vineyards are in central NSW and some in South Australia where there has been some smoke haze, but it seems not serious enough in our regions to affect the vineyards. However, the Adelaide Hills, which is a relatively small wine-growing region, has not been so lucky with around one third of the total vineyards lost. We only source one product from the Adelaide Hills, so although sadly it has hurt a number of small wineries, our own business has not really been affected by this.
The fire season in Australia is generally at its worst at the height of summer in late January and February, so is it likely there is more to come. Some of these fires in NSW started around six weeks ago—very unusual for these extreme weather conditions to occur so early. It seems no doubt global warming has something to do with it. In summary we have been fortunate that our vineyards haven’t really been impacted by these fires at this stage.
Kishan Sidhu, Hastwell & Lightfoot
I am happy to report that the H&L vineyards are very much still intact. Most of the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide have been left untouched by the impact of the fires. Having said that, we are experiencing haze-like conditions on a daily occurrence. The wine community is working together in the McLaren Vale region to support our fellow vineyards and wineries in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island, which have been devastated by the impacts of the bush fires.
For South Australia the industry has been hit hard for the 2020 vintage by the impacts of weather conditions with little rain over the last couple of months and damage from fires, hailstorms and drought. We all have our fingers crossed for this year’s vintage. Richard McGeachy, our vineyard manager, has reported that “the vines are looking good at the moment, but we are a couple of weeks away from knowing the impacts from our recent conditions”. We will all be looking for support from Opimian members in 2020, and nothing will help all us more than supporting South Australian wineries by buying a case or two from next November’s Cellar Offering.