New Zealand producers count the cost of latest earthquake to hit the South Island

New Zealand producers count the cost of latest earthquake to hit the South Island

New Zealand is still counting the cost of what was potentially a devastating earthquake of 7.5 magnitude that hit the country’s South Island on Sunday night.

However, early signs are the wine community has had a narrow escape other than a wine spillages, lost tanks and barrels. The quake could not have come at a worse time for the industry as it was gearing up for its next vintage, and was followed by a further earthquake and a series of aftershocks that have the hit the region throughout the early part of the week.

But engineers and producers are still looking at the most worst affected areas with parts of  Marlborough, the key wine growing region having been hit.

There was some damage at the Riverlands Industrial Estate, south of Blenheim, where tanks holding as much as 240,000 litres were spilled, sending wine over the road. This could prove costly for the wine companies concerned, though Wine Malrborough chairman Rhyan Wardman said that the high standard of engineering developed over a series of earthquakes should avert too much damage.

Yealands Wine Group operating manager Michael Wentworth said there had been “notable damage at the winery” and it remains closed for safety reasons while the extend of the damage is assessed and cleaned up.  Yealands is situated near the town of Seddon, the epicentre of the quake.

“We’ve got damage to tanks and as a result of the shaking we’ve lost some wine but it’s to early to estimate how much that is,” he said.

Wardman said that the winery where he worked, Giesen Wines in the Riverlands estate, escaped with minor damager.

“We’ve had a number of barrels that have toppled, but otherwise we’ve come through this pretty much unscathed,” he said. “Today is all about the assessment of our infrastructure, we’ve got engineers on site to check our tanks and cat walks, so we’ll probably have a clearer picture at the end of the day about how we fared.”

Residents living near the coast were being urged to move to higher ground after the earthquake triggered a tsunami warming. Hundreds of homes were evacuated in Kaikoura, while Rarangi residents north of Blenheim left their houses and moved inland.

The Nelson region appears to have been unscathed.

The country is no stranger to seismic activity, with a 7.1-magnitude temblor causing massive structural damage in September 2010, followed by a 6.3-magnitude in February 2011 that killed 185 people in Christchurch. Frequent smaller quakes have been recorded since then, including the 2013 Seddon and Lake Grassmere quakes, both of which caused substantial property damage.

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