Wildfires Destroy 2 Australia Vineyards

Hot weather, gale-force winds and lightning strikes have ignited fires in South Australia, destroying more than 30 homes and two vineyards. More than 5,000 acres were blackened in Eden Valley in December, and up to half of the vineyard was burnt at Hutton Vale Farm. Nearby, Stephen Henschke, winemaker and CEO of Henschke Wines, evacuated his winery after the blaze came within a mile of his Mount Edelstone vineyard. It was a frightening déjà vu for Henschke, after an enormous fire burnt through a neighboring property early last year. His concern now lies with smoke taint for the 2015 vintage. The severe wind that fanned the fire may be his saving grace, quickly blowing the smoke away from the vines. Jacob’s Creek winemaker Bernard Hickin shares the same concern for the Adelaide Hills, which recently suffered the worst fire since 1983. “It was exploding with black and white smoke and the sheer size of it was something to behold!” he told Unfiltered. “It looked like a volcano.” It won’t be until closer to harvest that testing will reveal whether the smoke has tainted the vintage, though Hickin is optimistic. “The fires hit before the grapes reached veraison, reducing the risk of smoke absorption,” he said. Burning through 32,000 acres, the Adelaide Hills fire destroyed at least half of the vineyard at Kersbrook Hill Wines, and the winery buildings narrowly escaped damage.

A bushfire burns close to a vineyard in Roleystone, near Perth

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