Wineries have been evacuated and vines lost in devastating bush fires that are sweeping the Margaret River region in Western Australia.
So far at least five vineyards around Margaret River have been evacuated, including Leeuwin Estate, Xanadu Wines, Cape Mentelle, Voyager Estate and Redgate Wines, website PerthNow reported.
Wine critic Tyson Stelzer said the Margaret River Wine Show judging area had been evacuated, and that McHenry Hohnen had lost vines to the fire.
While observers on the ground report that at present there was little danger to vines and wineries, smoke damage to grapes would be a consideration.
Nick Power of the Margaret River Wine Association told journalists the fire was mainly destroying national park land, where there were some smaller wineries in danger, but none of the larger wineries were at risk.
‘There is a lot of scientific research currently being undertaken on the affect of smoke on both made wine and the vines themselves,’ he added.
At Voyager Estate cellar door manager Janine Carter told PerthNow they were ‘concerned’ about the approaching fire and had decided to evacuate as a ‘pre-emptive move’ shortly after 1pm. At Leeuwin managers took the same decision.
‘It’s not a good time to be in Margaret River – the winds are howling, it’s very warm and smoke is very evident,’ Carter said.
In later news, Australian TV reported towards midnight on Thursday that prevailing winds had changed and given some relief for the region, but firefighters said the fire was still not under control.
The main blaze took hold oin Wednesday near the towns of Gnarabup and Prevelly on the coast to the west of Margaret River. Some 30 homes have been destroyed.
About 4,000ha of the Mt Lindesay National Park to the southeast of Margaret River have also been burnt. No one has been reported injured in the fires.