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When It Rains, It Pours

By Monday 17 October 2022September 25th, 2023No Comments

The flood crisis in Victoria is expected to cause major headaches for many grapegrowers and winemakers leading up to the 2023 vintage.

Many wineries have already taken a financial hit from having to close their cellar doors because of rising waterways and flooded roads.

More heavy rain is forecast for Victoria for the next week as well as for South Australia, Tasmania and NSW.

Tahbilk Wines on the flooded Goulburn River at Nagambie is closed until further notice. Mitchelton is also closed.

Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt described the agricultural impact of flooding as “widespread”.

“It’s very large in scale,” he said.

St Annes Winery at Echuca was in the firing line on Monday. It is closed until further notice.

“We’re just finishing getting everything lifted up off the floor in preparation for possible flooding,” they posted on Facebook.

“Sadly, Echuca is expecting a flood bigger than we’ve ever seen before.

“We may be closed for quite some time.”

Many vineyards have been flooded which will be a major setback heading into the 2023 vintage.

Asked about the effects of flooded vineyards on vintage, viticulture expert Richard Smart says, “Based on what I have seen/heard, the issues of harvest would be serious, but there are other problems before then… fungal disease and problems of vineyard access to spray.

“Also excessive water supply leading to excess vigour.

“More rain closer to harvest will cause Botrytis, and access problems for harvesters, machines and people.

“Seems South Australia is as yet relatively unaffected.”

Richard added, “Is this our introduction to the climate crisis?”

A 71-year-old man was found dead in floodwaters at Rochester and about 30,000 homes have been flooded throughout Victoria.

There has also been flooding in NSW and Tasmania, with some parts of the island receiving 400mm of rain in 24 hours.

Meanwhile the River Murray is rising and some Riverland cellar doors close to the river including Caudo have closed.

“We are pretty certain our cellar door will go under, but it’s built to withstand that,” Joe Caudo told The Advertiser.

“It’s our house that is the concern, we’re about 70 metres from the water’s edge at the moment.”

On Tuesday the Bureau of Meteorology issued advice that conditions in the Riverland on late Tuesday and Wednesday would be conducive to an outbreak of downy mildew.

The flooding has added to a raft of major challenges for the Australian wine industry following the bushfires, Covid-19, supply chain issues, an oversupply and the collapse of the $1.2 billion China market after the introduction of high tariffs on Australian wine.

The Hunter Valley saw major flooding earlier this year with the town of Broke bearing the brunt of it.

Meteorologists say La Nina could extend into the early parts of 2023.

Photographs: Tahbilk Wines Facebook.

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