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Tuesday 24 March 2020

Threat to 2020 wine vintage in Australia

Australian winemakers are fearful moves to reduce the health impact of the coronavirus could damage the 2020 vintage.

Umbrella group Australian Grape & Wine said it welcomes the approach taken by the Victorian and New South Wales Governments to allow businesses to continue working through the 2020 vintage, and encouraged other governments to follow suit.

Australian Grape & Wine chief executive Tony Battaglene said: “We understand the potentially devastating ramifications of COVID-19 on the health and welfare of Australians, and recognise that governments have to make difficult decisions that impact businesses, the economy, and our normal way of life.

“However, the next 4-6 weeks is a critical period for grape and wine businesses in Australia. They have just one chance per year to grow grapes and make wine, and many are nervous about whether heightened COVID-19 responses will require them to shut down vintage 2020.”

2020 has seen hundreds of wine businesses facing a future without tourists visiting their cellar doors, or suffering the impacts of fire and smoke damage. Cancelling the 2020 vintage could spell the end for many – possibly hundreds – of Australian grape and wine businesses, with significant flow-on impacts in rural and regional communities.

“It is imperative that we get these grapes picked, crushed, fermented and locked away for maturation,” said Battaglene.

“About 30% of the national crop is still to be picked, with many growers and wineries currently working around the clock to get the job done. A shut-down of the sector now would destroy the vast majority of the 2020 vintage, which would have ramifications for many years to come.

“Wine businesses are putting unprecedented measures in place to ensure the safety of their people and their customers, and to comply with government directives. These measures are allowing the grape and wine sector to complete vintage under tight conditions that will help halt the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

“We hope all governments across Australia can implement arrangements that protect human health and ensure vintage 2020 can be completed.”

The entire 2020 crop has been lost to smoke taint n some parts of Hunter Valley and Adelaide Hills wine regions, as well as the Hilltops and Canberra.

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