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Constantia Valley fire threatens harvest

Wild bush fires are sweeping across areas of South Africa near the Constantia Valley winemaking region, destroying vineyards and raising fears of dreaded smoke taint in grapes.

Groot Contantia, one of the region's oldest wineries, is under threat (Photo:Wiki)
Groot Constantia, one of the region’s oldest wineries, is under threat (Photo:Wiki)

The fires, which began sweeping through the region today, have already destroyed at least two vineyards in Constantia and one further south in the Noordhoek region, Bloomberg reports.

The area is currently in the final stages of harvesting its grapes as the Southern Hemisphere summer comes to a close.

Surviving grapes that have not yet been harvested could be irreversibly damaged by smoke taint, which destroys the taste of the grapes.

Bloomberg quotes winery-owner Lars Maack of Buitenverwachting saying, “Most of the farms around here have scorched vineyards. We’re not out of the woods yet. We’re focusing now on saving the farm.”

The fire, which started on the slopes of Table mountain near Cape Town on Monday and is still spreading, has also destroyed eight homes and a luxury hotel, and damaged offices of the South African National Parks in Tokai.

Cape Town city officials have said that 300 firefighters are currently trying to contain the blaze.

See below for time lapse footage showing the spread of the fire on Monday night. 

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