Jo Burzynska: Shaky times

By Jo Burzynska

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Yealand's Estate winery in Seddon in calmer times. Photo / Jim Tannock
Yealand's Estate winery in Seddon in calmer times. Photo / Jim Tannock

Winegrowers are used to the vagaries of Mother Nature. While it's usually challenging weather conditions, in recent weeks vignerons of Marlborough have had to deal with earthquakes, with Friday's 6.6 magnitude shake wreaking more havoc than last month's local seismic activity.

Damage to wineries and consequent loss of wine has been reported across the region, with the sizeable facilities in the Riverlands Industrial Estate on its eastern fringes and wineries in the Awatere Valley closest to the epicentre given some of the largest shakes.

Awatere Valley winery, Yealand's Estate at Seddon was just kilometres away from the source of the second of Friday's large tremors, which according to the company's general manager for marketing, Michael Wentworth, was felt the most strongly at the winery.

"Everyone got out of the building safe and sound," Wentworth reported. "The building was built to handle an earthquake registering 8 and performed as it should, but when we were outside and this shake happened we could see the building moving and its windows flexing."

Wentworth noted that the company had lost wines due to damage to tanks, but had yet to work our exactly how much. "The tanks moved in the earthquakes so we lost wines out the top as well as through damage," he noted. However, he added that after a weekend of hard work clearing up, it was now business as usual.

This setback comes as the region starts to release wine from the much hyped 2013 vintage, which at least saw higher volumes for Mother Nature to lay waste to than the previous lower yielding year. The true cost of the earthquakes has yet to be counted, while the wineries I spoke to are bracing themselves for shaky times ahead in the months to come.


* Look out for Viva wine editor Jo Burzynska's weekly report every Monday.

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