Dessert wine growers are facing a low-yield vintage this year after flooding saturated some of Victoria's most recognisable wineries.
Flooded crops are the latest obstacle in a growing list of difficulties the local Rutherglen winegrowing community in north-east Victoria has faced over the past 3 years including the COVID-19 lockdowns, bushfire, drought and a tariff on wine exported to China.
De Bortoli estate manager Leanne De Bortoli told ACM of the recent floods: "We can't win a trick."
De Bortoli, producers of Botrytis Semillon dessert wine 'Noble One,' operate vineyards in Rutherglen, Yarra Valley, Bilbul and Hunter Valley.
Ms De Bortoli asked "how are we supposed to work as a business?" with floods severing major roads and highways through Australia's south-east.
Rutherglen winemaker Chris Pfeiffer told ACM he was facing a challenging reality. "We have put all the inputs in and are likely to not pick a berry from the inundated vineyards."
Mr Pfeiffer will have to wait for flooding to ease before assessing the damage.
"The level of rainfall makes it difficult to get onto vineyards and take protective measures against disease.
"Conditions have been favourable to the development of Downy mildew, which is usually quite preventable, if you can get on the vineyard", he said.
Winemakers can produce wine using parcels of grapes grown on other vineyards but after 3 difficult years the option is becoming less viable.
"There are opportunities to purchase fruit, yet again adding to costs" Mr Pfeiffer said.
Effects of this loss won't be felt immediately, as Mr Pfeiffer's fortified wines age for around ten years before being bottled with multiple vintages to create a consistent style.
Tanks of wine, originally earmarked for export to China, remain on Mr Pfeiffer's Rutherglen vineyard and will help cushion the impact of a low-yield year.
"The glass is not only half full, but refillable," Mr Pfeiffer said.
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The region's Indigo Shire council is unable to focus resources on private losses while public infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, require rebuilding.
An Indigo Shire spokesperson said there was "a massive amount of damage throughout the shire."
Acting executive officer of AgBiz Assist Chris Howard said "when people are recovering from a natural disaster, they're absolutely exhausted, they've got a million things running through their head."
"We're well placed to help."
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