By Deborah Jackson, editor National Liquor News

Fires burning earlier this week in Cessnock in the Hunter Valley have been brought under control by the Rural Fire Service (RFS) with wineries reporting no damage to vines.

Source: Jordan Pritchard on Facebook.

In fact, from all accounts the region is shaping up for a great harvest as a result of some exceptional weather conditions.

Tempus Two Chief Winemaker Andrew Duff told TheShout: “A lot of families were put at risk and day to day lives impacted by the fire, so far from good news for the region. In respect to the wine industry, its early in the growing season still so the vines won’t be impacted; by all accounts the Hunter is actually shaping up for a great harvest with sufficient water to date and full dams, lovely cool evenings through spring and great sunshine hours leading into November.”

Andrew Margan, the Chief Winemaker and Viticulturalist at Margan Family Wines agreed, saying that the fires were well to the south and nowhere near the vines.

He said: "Everything is fine here with the grapes starting to fill out as a result of our exceptional ring weather."

Over at Tamburlaine, Mark Davidson the Chief Winemaker and Managing Director told TheShout: "Australian wine industry research into smoke taint has been substantial over recent years; in general, the closer bushfires are and the closer to veraison, the more potential for taint. The Hunter has had a very cool delayed start to the growing season this year, meaning flowering has only just past in most vineyards. The current fires have been mainly south and east of Wine Country with prevailing westerly winds. To this point it is unlikely that that any vineyards at all have been affected.”

Source: Quarrie Photography on Facebook.

On Monday, Mount Pleasant Wines issued a bushfire update on Facebook saying that its vineyards and property were unaffected by the fires.

"Firstly thank you to everyone involved in fighting the bushfire on the outskirts of Cessnock Hunter Valley Australia. It's always a scary time of year as we enter bushfire season, and whilst we experienced a wet winter, everything is drying out now. With the fanning winds and moderate temperatures, the risk of bushfires remains high. Cessnock was on high alert but due to the valiant efforts of the rural fire service we hope it will be extinguished soon. 

"Mount Pleasant Estate, Lovedale and Rosehill vineyards are unaffected we are happy to say. No current risk of property destruction or smoke taint issues. The Pokolbin wine region was spared due to the westerly winds which meant most of the fire and smoke travelled in the other direction from the vineyards. 

"Paul Harvey our vineyard manager and viticulturist has advised a healthy growth season thus far. Vine flowering is nearly complete and the berries are developing well. Paul anticipates a mid January start to harvest with quality looking fantastic." 

At this time the fires have been downgraded from High Alert to Advice warning status, which means that there is no longer an immediate danger in the area.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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