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Thursday 19 January 2023

Smoking ceremony launches 2023 Hunter Valley wine vintage

Vintage 2023 is up and running in the Hunter Valley wine region and over a hundred local winemakers, grape growers and tourism industry representatives gathered on Thursday morning to take part in the Hunter Valley's inaugural Vintage Smoking Ceremony.

The ceremony was conducted by Uncle Warren, an elder of the Wonnarua people.

The event was held at the Audrey Wilkinson cellar door in Pokolbin, with guests given the opportunity to connect with each other and with the land, at an important time for the local wine industry.

This ancient method of cleansing bad energy, both physically and spiritually, uses smouldering native plants, such as eucalyptus or emu bush, to produce a smoke with antimicrobial effects that are passed on to the vines and soil.

"This ceremony will help local wine producers and growers to connect with the land by having mother nature and the spirits of Baiame and Kawal on their side to provide protection to the vineyards and their roots over this vintage," said Uncle Warren.

"This protection will help provide the right amount of rain, the right amount of sun and everything from Mother Nature to provide a successful harvest of the vines upon this land."

Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association president Stuart Hordern of Brokenwood Wines opened the ceremony and said: "This has been a challenging growing season for all and we are grateful to Uncle Warren for his time and positive energy ahead of our 23 Vintage.

"We understand this is the first time any wine region has undertaken a smoking ceremony ahead of a vintage and it is fitting that it should be in the birthplace of the Australian wine industry.

"The wines we make in the Hunter Valley are internationally renowned for having a unique regional character about them and acknowledging the country and its indigenous connection to it is a uniquely Australian extension to the concept of terroir."

Some Hunter producers have already commenced harvesting given the drier weather the region has benefitted from recently, and the majority of white grapes will start to be harvested in the next couple of weeks.

The Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association said it "looks forward to this becoming an ongoing tradition within the industry".

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