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Bushfire Response – 6 January 2020

Bushfires are affecting or will affect many wine regions around Australia this year. Vineyard owners whose vineyards have been directly impacted by fires, are encouraged to familiarise themselves with various support services available.

The AWRI is running a webinar tomorrow at 11:30am to outline the immediate response to be taken to maximise vine recovery post a fire event. To register click here.

An Adelaide Hills Horticulture and Viticulture Industry meeting was held in Hahndorf on 2 January 2020. Vineyard and horticultural property owners, support organisations, wine associations and State and Federal politicians, including South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall and Federal Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston among the attendees.  Speakers included Mardi Longbottom from AWRI and Cassandra Collins from the University of Adelaide who shared research about vineyard rejuvenation and regeneration strategies following fire damage. A key message for vineyard owners was to be considered in their response, making use of the information resources available. 

Jill Bauer from Adelaide University is co-ordinating groups of volunteers to assist with irrigation repairs to support fire affected vineyard recovery in the Adelaide Hills. Volunteer labour groups can assist with tasks such as counting posts or vineyard damage mapping. If you are a vineyard owner in need of assistance or if you would like to volunteer your time or resources please contact Jill on 0412 856 690 or email jill.bauer@adelaide.edu.au.

A number of winemakers and winegrape growers have also expressed their concerns about the risk of smoke damage to grapes. The AWRI has a great deal of resources regarding risk factors, management options for smoke affected fruit and links to research articles including management of bushfire affected vines. Winegrape growers selling grapes to wineries are encouraged to have open and honest conversations with their wineries early if they hold any concerns. AWRI provide an analytical service for testing grapes for potential damage.  Further information can be accessed via the AWRI helpdesk on 08 8313 6600 during business hours or by email helpdesk@awri.com.au.

Both Wine Grape Council of SA and SAWIA have discussed and offered to the Adelaide Hills Wine Region the support of their networks and contacts once they have a consolidated list of the requirements from the affected wine community. Both organisations will continue to liaise with the South Australian State Government to identify support needed as the response and recovery continues. SAWIA will provide updates and information via their website.

State and Territory Governments have various mechanisms in place to deal with emergencies and disaster response including bushfires. In South Australia, a State Emergency Relief Fund has been activated for the Cudlee Creek area for those affected by the Cudlee Creek fire.  Immediate assistance may be available for those impacted financially by the fires by contacting the Department of Human Services Recovery Line on 1800 382 787. Financial donations are possible to the State Emergency Relief Fund and can be made by visiting their website.

The Legal Services Commission of South Australia have a register of lawyers who providing free legal help to those affected by a disaster. For more information contact 1300 366 424 or email disaster.planning@lawsocietysa.asn.au.

Rural Business Support is providing assistance to South Australian businesses to develop and implement plans to recover including with preparation for discussions with banks, lenders and insurance companies and in generating cash flow forecasts to meet financial obligations. They can be contacted by calling 1800 836 211.

There are a number of support agencies that specialise in counselling for people affected by disasters. SA Regional Access offers free professional telephone and online counselling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can  be contacted by calling 1300 032 186.

Australian Red Cross are also coordinating Outreach services to those in bushfire affected areas.  Further information on how to seek help, or to donate to assist their work can be found here.  Their Register-Find-Unite service is also available here.

Australian Grape & Wine is in close contact with the Minister for Agriculture, the Minister for Trade and the Prime Minister’s Office. We are seeking to work with the Federal Government to seek additional resources to support the Australian wine industry in both recovery from, and preparedness for, bushfires. This will include long-term investment in R&D for vineyard management and in-winery remediation options to mitigate smoke taint, increased funding for regional tourism and financial support for growers.