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A world of hurt for the Adelaide Hills’ lesser-known wine producers

By Friday 6 March 2020December 10th, 2021No Comments

This is an open letter to WBM from Tony Love…

It’s been 11 Fridays since disastrous bushfires ripped through the Adelaide Hills vineyard districts of Lenswood, Lobethal, Charleston, Woodside and up into the Kenton Valley and Mount Torrens area.

We all know the damage has been devastating, and many good folk have been truly tested in the aftermath.

The messaging has since been powerful: get up there, go visit cellar doors and buy Hills wines… support the community, #BookThemOut etc. etc.

The response has been undeniably encouraging. For those especially capable of garnering media attention – or who became, maybe unintentionally, go-to media responders.

Many growers and winemakers, perhaps we could truly call them the quiet Australians in this instance, however, have unfortunately been sidelined in all the more obvious noise. Growers and small producers without branded wine to sell or cellar doors to visit.

Those who have lost their source of income for at least two years, who have incurred the costs of bringing their vines so close to fruition this vintage but lost all in a single day’s conflagration, and those whose source of grapes from those vineyards has gone.

The little guys.

The humble many, and stoic farming families who don’t or won’t make a fuss.

Their losses weren’t confined to just one turbulent day but continue to be revealed day after day, month after month.

We’ve seen many photos of green shoots poking out of the ground, but there are just as many untold stories of those that didn’t.

I heard one just this week which touched my heart.

Dave Neyle and Inga Lidums of Lobethal Rd Wines on the outskirts of Mount Torrens were luckily spared any direct impact at their cellar door or home vineyard; except that as one of those unmentioned, and not included in the impacted businesses, they haven’t been on the published visiting lists bringing in much needed support.

Their cellar door traffic and trade, a major part of such small businesses, has been down 60 percent.

They also had planted in recent years a new vineyard in the Woodside precinct along Pfeiffer Rd which was seriously burned on 20 December.

There are others around them – the Paschke and Virgara vineyards to name a couple – who also sustained shocking damage.

Dave has tried desperately in the past two months to revive his youngest vines, but recently had to make the call.

Ninety percent of his babies have not made it.

They will have to replant virtually entirely.

Dave is not one for publicity about such matters. One of the stoic generation. He and Inga will just get on with their own responsibilities, without any surrounding noise.

The impact is very real all over again and highlights that it continues forever – a salient point for those not directly affected and who might already be disaster weary.

There will be some minor compensation from government relief funds here and there. Drops in the ocean essentially.

The Adelaide Hills Wine Region Fire Appeal will also assist as they have specifically set their focus on helping people like them and similar growers and producers.

Perhaps this weekend, if you’re thinking still of supporting the Adelaide Hills wine folk and visiting a cellar door or three, choose lesser-known venues which may not have been on any social media list or in the news bulletins.

They too are suffering. They’d love to see you as well.  – Tony Love

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