New Zealand wineries count cost of earthquake

The recent earthquake in New Zealand led to the loss of around 2% of Marlborough’s total wine production, however a record 2016 harvest means this will not impact supply, or the 2017 vintage, says New Zealand Winegrowers.

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The earthquake hit the North Canterbury region on the South Island on 14 November

The Kaikoura earthquake hit the North Canterbury region on South Island just after midnight on Monday, 14 November, and measured 7.5 of the Richter scale. The epicentre of the main quake was northeast of Christchurch, near the town of Kaikoura, with tremors felt as far away as Wellington on the North Island.

Two people died following the quake and a tsunami warning led to thousands of residents being evacuated from their homes. The earthquake caused severe damage to roads and buildings, while a large river dammed up by a landslide also breached its banks. More than 100 aftershocks have followed the original earthquake, including one single quake with a magnitude of 6.3.

While damage caused to the wine industry was thankfully minimal, with the majority of wineries describing damage caused as minor.

The major impact was caused to winery tanks, causing the loss of some wine – the equivalent of 2% of Marlborough’s total wine production – according to New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan.

“We have completed our survey of the impact of the earthquake on our members,” said Gregan in an updated statement on the aftermath of the quake for the wine industry.

“It is clear there was some wine loss as a result of the earthquake but it amounts to only a little over 2% of Marlborough’s total production. “While this is frustrating, this is not a major concern as vintage 2016 was a near record one. This means there is plenty of wine available to continue our market growth.”

New Zealand Winegrowers said many wineries had escaped with “no damage at all”, with 80% of tank capacity in Marlborough undamaged. The priority for wineries with damaged tanks is to repair or replace the tanks they need to have in working condition for vintage 2017.

“The process of tank repair is already underway but it is going to be a big task which will continue for many months,” added Gregan. “We have been liaising with affected wineries, engineers, tank manufacturers, the government and the Marlborough District Council to ensure there are no unnecessary impediments to that process proceeding as quickly and safely as possible.”

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Huia Vineyards in Raupara

“Marlborough produces well over 200 million litres of wine each year with over 80% of this destined for export markets. Despite the obvious damage to transport links, we are not aware of any particular issues affecting the movement of wine out of the region at the moment. We are working with various transport operators, ports and the government to identify and address any issues should they occur,” added Gregan.

Huia Vineyards in Raupara, Marlborough, posted an image on its Instagram page showing several steel tanks in its cellar which had been overturned or had their supports buckled by the force of the quake.

There were reports of damage at the Riverlands Industrial Estate, south of Blenheim, where tanks holding around 240,000 litres of wine were overturned, sending wine over the road, according to stuff.co.nz.

Meanwhile Yealands Wine Group operating manager Michael Wentworth reported that the company’s Seaview winery, near Seddon, had been without power.

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