Bushfires close to home

After the coolest December and the driest January, Victoria experienced searing temperatures in early February. On Saturday February 7th, 2009, 450 fires broke out across Victoria. All of us at Shelmerdine Vineyards express our sincerest sympathy to those who have been affected by the devastating firestorms that ravaged Victoria on Black Saturday 2009. Fortunately, all of our staff, their families and our vineyards have escaped unharmed. We are grateful to many of our team who have been fighting these fires tirelessly, both in the Yarra Valley and Heathcote for the past weeks. Our Cellar Door and Café continue to operate as per usual, and we welcome you to visit again now that it is safe to do so. Here is an update on our regions.

Yarra Valley Region
While our staff and vineyards, located at the southern part of the region at Woori Yallock, have escaped the devastation of the firestorms, many have not been so fortunate. The Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association has released a statement outlining the effects of the fire on the region.

Approximately 25% of the Yarra Valley viticultural area was directly threatened or impacted by grass or bushfires.
This was mostly in the northern part of the Yarra Valley, the southern or Upper Yarra Valley is mostly unaffected.
It is estimated that approximately 29 vineyards totaling 185 ha of vineyards have been damaged or destroyed, this represents approximately 5% of the vineyards in the region. Roundstone Winery and Restaurant, Yarra Yarra and Caldstone have unfortunately been destroyed. We wish our colleagues all the best to get back on their feet soon. Punt Road, Domaine Chandon and Immerse experienced damages to sheds and outhouses.

Because there was a wind change from northerly to southerly only hours after the fires commenced, the valley has been kept largely clear of smoke and thus there is not expected to be any smoke taint in wines produced from the 2009 harvest. Tests this week on juice samples show that there is smoke character in grapes from fire damaged vineyards. These grapes won’t be harvested.

Heathcote Region
Saturday February 7th was a terrifying day for many residents in the Redesdale area, approximately 45km from Tooborac. At approximately 2 pm on Black Saturday the Tooborac township (including Merindoc Vineyard) was evacuated to the Heathcote township as the fires were threatening to sweep down the hill and through the valley. Thankfully that didn’t happen and people were allowed to return to their homes around 7pm in the evening. Unfortunately severe damage was sustained to several vineyards and olive groves including Rupert’s Ridge and Barfold Estate. As in the Yarra Valley, much of the damage is still being calculated. Our friends (Susie and Peter Williams) at Redesdale Estate were spared, as was the wonderful Redesdale Hotel. Most importantly, there are many businesses still open as normal in both regions that require your ongoing support. To continue to support the region, please choose Victorian regional wines and produce when next in a restaurant, bottle shop or food store, or as a destination for your next holiday.

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