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Winemaker saves 12,000 bottles from silt after Cyclone Gabrielle

Following Cyclone Gabrielle hitting New Zealand’s north island earlier this month, a winemaker in the Esk Valley has recovered 12,000 bottles of wine from a mountain of silt with the help of his neighbours.

Winemaker saves 12,000 bottles of wine from silt after Cyclone Gabrielle

New Zealand declared a state of emergency over Cyclone Gabrielle this month, as the Prime Minister labelled it the “worst storm to hit the country this century”.

Large parts of New Zealand’s North Island have been devastated, and at least 46,000 homes left without power, as Cyclone Gabrielle blasted across the northernmost tip of the island.

In Esk Valley near the city of Napier, a three metre-high wall of silt stood between winemaker Philip Barber and a coolstore containing 12,000 bottles of his wine.

But the winemaker, who produces a range including a late harvest Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc under his Petane Wines label, was able to recover the bottles with the help of his neighbours.

It took two full days to excavate the coolstore, which Barber shares with his brother Chris who makes beer for Zeelandt Brewery.

Power cuts meant that four vats of beer left fermenting at the time the storm hit could not be salvaged. But the wine — which was uninsured — was successfully dug out.

The bottles have now been sent for testing, and Barber hopes to auction them off to recoup the costs caused by storm damage, as reported by RNZ.

The cost of repairing the damage wreaked by Cyclone Gabrielle could reach NZ$13.5 billion ($8.42 billion), New Zealand’s Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said.

He revealed this week that the cost to New Zealand’s government may be similar to that following the Christchurch earthquake in 2011, which until now was considered one of the most devastating natural disasters to hit the country.

“This will be a significant event financially for the government and for individuals, households, businesses, banks and insurers,” Robertson told broadcaster TVNZ of Cyclone Gabrielle.

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