The effects of bushfires on Australian wine tourism

By Samuel Squire

Reports from wineries and wine associations from across the nation’s affected wine regions all carry a similar message: bushfires have taken an unquantified toll on wine tourism.

Christina Tulloch of Tulloch Wines, and president of Hunter Valley Wine Country, said that while the damage from fires has been significant for the region, the take-home message at the moment is that the region is open for business.

“The loss of tourism, as a result of the bushfires that have damaged our region, will definitely stretch into the millions of dollars,” she said.

“However, we will know more when the results of a region-wide survey, designed to evaluate the cost of the loss of income from this decline in tourism are in.”

When asked about the damage to the region caused by bushfires, Tulloch commented that damage assessments are still in their early stages, yet will be completed in time as the situation develops.

“In terms of the effects on the Hunter Valley region and 2020 vintage it really is still too early to tell,” she said.

“Smoke taint is a reasonably new and inexact body of science and, as a region, we are currently working through all the options and procedures at our disposal to evaluate any perceived risk.

“The Hunter Valley is a very large geographical area and there are many factors at play, including proximity to the fire, elevation, grape varietal, ripening time and days in smoke contact. The pleasing thing is that for most of the Hunter Valley, the fires actually haven’t been that close to vineyards.”

When discussing the potential hit that the region could take as a result of the bushfires, Tulloch said the Hunter Valley’s tourism sector had been hit hardest to date with a reduction in visitation.

“This, along of course with the safety of our community and their properties, remains our biggest priority,” she said.

“Looking forward and into recovery mode, the Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest and most resilient region at nearly 200 years old.

“Once we have the results of the region-wide survey, we will of course be looking to use that information to apply for funding and grants to help us with a “we are open for business” campaign.

“In the meantime, people can support our region by buying a bottle of Hunter Valley wine and planning a visit to wine country.”

Image: Brokenwood Wines