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South Africa wineries fight fires

Wineries in South Africa are battling to extinguish bushfires that have been raging from Stellenbosch to the Somerset West area over the last 10 days.

The fires have put properties including Lourensford and Vergelegen at risk. They passed through Vergelegen’s 3,000ha property on Sunday night, but no vineyards were damaged.

Don Tooth, managing director of Vergelegen, told decanter.com the harvest (whites) started a week ago but was suspended for several days while the winery tried to put the fire out.

‘There’s no sign of smoke taint yet but it’s early days,’ said Tooth.

‘The real concern is for reds, as we are still 10 days away from picking.’

Neighbouring estate Lourensford has been hit by fire for the second time in two weeks. Arson is suspected in the latest fire. Production manager Barry Humby told Bloomberg.com fires had caused ‘major damage’.

Helicopters have attempted to contain the blaze. Vergelegen is being used as the fire service’s command and surveillance post, and 30 fire engines are currently stationed on the property.

Written by Rebecca Gibb

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