The wine industry is reeling from the death of a respected grapegrower.

David John McIntosh, 42, died after being crushed in a machine used to take netting off vines at Greenhough Vineyard in Nelson.

He was dragged on to the machine after his leg became caught in netting. He suffered serious leg, head and chest injuries. He was freed by co-workers but died later.

"The whole industry is reeling from the shock of his sudden death," said Nelson Winegrowers Association chairman Mike Brown.

Brown said his friend was a first class viticulturalist and lovely bloke. "I called him nature's gentleman. He was a quiet man, very well-respected and liked by everyone."

Another winegrower, who did not want to be named, described McIntosh as an incredible man: "He has done so much for the area and the industry. He was a really lovely guy that got things done."

Under McIntosh's management, Greenhough's Hope Vineyard Pinot Noir received a five-star rating in Britain's Decanter magazine.

The Greenhough website said McIntosh had been the vineyard manager since 2001. "His background in farming and horticulture together with a passion for wine, made viticulture a natural fit."

Richmond volunteer fire brigade senior firefighter Lauren Hrynkewycz told the Nelson Mail the incident happened at the end of a row of vines. She didn't know how McIntosh had become tangled in the machinery.