Adelaide Hills fire appeal auction for bushfire affected wine businesses

Simon Tolley in front of fire affected vines following the 2019 bushfires. Image courtesy Adelaide Hills Wine Region

Adelaide Hills Wine Region has announced an online auction of over 350 bottles of wine to raise money for wineries and growers affected by the 2019 Cudlee Creek bushfires.

With floods dominating recent news, bushfire couldn’t be further from the public mind’s eye.

However, many Adelaide Hills wineries are still suffering from the devastation of the 2019 fires.

“The fire wrecked 30 years of work in a day. We had to start again, and it’s not easy to do that. It’s not just the physical hard work but the huge emotional cost of starting over,” said Darren Golding of Golding Wines who saw 90 per cent of their vineyard burnt.

“We are part way, probably about 50% through replanting our vineyards.

“It will take another 5 years to get back to full production.”

After the fires, Dave Bowley feared the end for Vinterloper.

“With no grapes to make wine, and no discernible vineyard left standing on our property we had to buy grapes for the 2020 vintage and continue to buy grapes for many more seasons,” he said.

“Getting some funds from the Fire Appeal has enabled us to rebuild trellis and infrastructure and just keep the business going.”

Despite the hardships of the past few years, Adelaide Hills grape growers are resilient and continue work rebuilding their vineyards with support from the Fire Appeal.

The Adelaide Hills Wine Region, which is the body representing winemakers and grapegrowers in the Adelaide Hills, established the Fire Appeal to support local growers and producers and fund recovery efforts.

Amongst the initiatives to raise funds was a call for wineries across Australia to donate wine to be auctioned to the public.

35 wineries responded, ranging from renowned brands such as Vasse Felix, Yalumba and Rockford through to local Hills wineries such as K1 and La Prova contributing to support their friends.

“A big thanks and huge gratitude to all those who donated money or wine for the auction and supported us in some way,” said Mark Kozned from Nova Vita.

In total 357 bottles of wine were generously donated by wineries from South Australian regions including Adelaide Hills, Barossa, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley as well as further afield such as Western Australia and even a Rhone Hermitage from France.

COVID prevented the original plan to sell the wines at a charity dinner in 2020/21 so the online auction was created.

“When you are bidding for wines at the auction, please think of it as a donation rather than a purchase and be generous,” said Tim Bartsch of Bartsch Vignerons.

“If you can afford to purchase a small amount of wine, it will go a long way to help growers that are still recovering from the huge costs of the fire,” said Simon Tolley of Simon Tolley Wines.

The fundraising auction will be held from 18 to 25 April by Wickmans Fine Wine Auctions. Anyone can join but must register online here.


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