Wine producers face devastating losses following floods in South Australia

Wine producers face devastating losses following floods in South Australia

Grape producers in South Australia’s Riverland were left counting the cost after stormy weather tore through the state at the end of last week, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

Some producers lost their entire crops, as severe rain, hail and 100 kph winds lashed the region on Friday, damaging fruit, flooding crops and ripping leaves and bark from orchards.

Riverland Wine official Chris Byrne said that producers had been on track for a good year, but many had now lost a significant amount of vines.

“Many of the vines have effectively been stripped, or the word that most growers would use to describe is it looks as though they have been shredded,” hd said.

The bad weather affected Cadell, Barmera, Berri and Monash to Yamba.   “These hailstorms came through almost in the form of very sharp ice coming at very high speed that inflicted some really serious damage on the fruit that is just forming,” added Byrne. “Quite clearly an event of this sort will have some sort of impact on the market.”

Last year Riverland vineyards supplied 63% of South Australia’s crush, and accounted for 27% of the country’s total volume.

Vineyard owner Matthew Recchia was just one producer who has lost everything. There’s nothing to salvage, it’s all destroyed,” he said. Some lost 100%, some lost 50%, we’ve lost everything.” As a result he has had to get rid of 15 employees.   Meanwhile, Mildura table grape grower Vince Cirillo described himself as “ one of the lucky ones,” as he only lost around half of his crop.

Agriculture minister Leon Bignall flew to the area, near the state’s eastern border for talk with industry officials, while the opposition leader Steven Marshall also went there to discuss the damage to crops with regional MP Tim Whetstone and grape growers.

Bignall estimated that the damage for Riverland horticultural properties could be in the region of $100 million. “We have had a terrible 12 months,” he said, describing the storm as the worst in the region for 50 years.   Meanwhile Marshall described the losses as “devastating”, and added: “We have to make sure these businesses don’t go to the wall.”

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