The Yarra Valley Winegrowers Association (YVWA) has downgraded its initially dour assessment of wine grape growing areas affected by the Victorian bushfires this month.

The YVWA said on February 13 that approximately 25 per cent of Yarra Valley viticultural areas has been directly impacted by the fires. However, in its latest assessment, it put the figure closer to 5 per cent.

“So far we have had information that 29 vineyards have been damaged or destroyed wholly or partially by fire and this corresponds to an area of 140 ha (350 acres),” the YVWA said in a statement. “

“Thus the impact on the total grape crop in 2009 is not large. In saying this, the YVWA recognises the considerable personal and financial loss to individual vineyards that have been damaged.”

Two wineries were completely destroyed by the fire — Yarra Yarra and Roundstone. The Immerse winery lost three accommodation buildings and a barn, Punt Road winery lost a machinery shed and Domaine Chandon suffered damage to two warehouses. 

The YVWA said total crops harvested in the Yarra Valley were up to 40 per cent below estimates, though it could not say what proportion of the loss was attributed to vine stress and sunburn caused by the high temperatures that preceded the fires.

It said the harvest could be further affected by wind changes that are pushing smoke from back burning fires in the Yarra ranges into the Yarra Valley.

Nevertheless, the YVWA expects the 2009 vintage to go ahead as scheduled and deliver a large number of high quality wines. It said harvest has started and most wineries are operating normally and are open to visitors. 
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The Shout Team

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