Vergelegen estimates £1m damage from bushfires

  • Friday 8 May 2009

South African winery Vergelegen said it has suffered at least £1m of damage from bushfires earlier this year.

The fires ravaged the estate’s property in February and March, destroying 11ha of its 150ha of vines.

These included a parcel of virus-free quality clones developed to improve vine material in South Africa.

Its winemaker Andre Van Rensburg called the loss of this vine improvement scheme a ‘borderline disaster’.

‘We had been selected to develop virus-free vines to supply cuttings to the industry, and this will set the programme back at least six years.’

That was the biggest tragedy, he told decanter.com. 'Clones of that quality are not readily available in South Africa.'

Van Rensburg has also discarded one-quarter of the 2009 red crop as a precaution against smoke taint. Volumes will be reduced by as much as 4000 cases.

The winery’s managing director Don Tooth estimated the loss was at least £1m ‘but there are still unknown longer-term issues,’ he said. ‘We have lost all the property’s biodiversity too, it looks like a lunar landscape now.’

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