Sam PlunkettWinemaker

2 years ago

feeling blue for my buddies...
I got the call yesterday that there was a fire reported on a vineyard at Warrenbayne. Friends, Winsome and Snow have a vineyard at Warrenbayne. We make wine for their Baddaginnie Run brand, and their fruit also goes into The Victorian Cabernet. I called Snow, and regrettably the fire was at their place. Called in today. Winsome in particular is really knocked. Sad for the vineyard. Embarrassed that a fire started on their place. And also emotional about all the help they are getting from neighbours and friends.
The crop (Cabernet) was due to be picked next week. I think we can still make wine from the surviving grapes. Some of the grapes taste candied and cooked, but I don't think the fire was hot enough to ruin the lot. I've got a sample fermenting in a bucket here at the winery - this will fairly quickly give us a clue about whether the smoke will cause a taint. I've been in touch with the contract harvester and we will try and bring forward picking to Saturday and see if we can rescue some of the crop.
You can see in one picture that the irrigation tube has melted. From conversations I overheard its doubtful that the trellis system, irrigation and crop will qualify for an insurance claim. Bugga.
Fires are difficult to control in vineyards because the fire goes where it wants to, and the truck are limited to driving up and down rows. The CFA did a great job containing the fire where they did. 16 trucks I think - all crewed by volunteers.
Its speculation at the moment, but likely that a bird scarer (the thing on a tripod in one of the pictures) was the source of the fire. Birds were getting into the crop, so Snow and Winsome bought the bird scarer just a day or two ago, and something has gone wrong.
Farming 'eh.

32 replies... (latest reply 2 years ago)
Wine Advisor

Fascinating post, but truly awful news. Really informative post Sam! Best wishes to your friends, hope they can still save some of the grapes!

2 years ago

Archangel

Sad news Sam, damage to anyone's lively hood is a crying shame, but wine production. Many wine drinkers,me included will be wearing black armbands.

Please pass on my good wishes for happier vintages in the future.

2 years ago

Angel

So sorry to hear this. Fingers crossed that something can be salvaged from this year's crop to help them back on their feet.....

2 years ago

Angel

Is that potentially a years work ruined? I feel for you guys.

2 years ago

Angel

Very sad news. Let's hope there will be something to salvage from this travesty.

2 years ago

Archangel

Very sorry to hear of the sad news Sam. I hope they manage to get on their feet again with a little help from their friends.

2 years ago

Archangel

Oh no, how devastating. Truly hope they're able to recover from their loss.
Best wishes to them and good luck with salvaging the grapes.

2 years ago

Angel

Dreadful news Sam. I'm guessing that is the lovely gentleman Snow who we met when we visited you and Bron. Feeling for you all right now.

2 years ago

Archangel

Bad news for them, let's hope the grapes in your bucket produce something wonderful....Fingers crossed.

2 years ago

Archangel

Dreadful news, but heart-warming how people all pull together at such times.

2 years ago

Angel

That's awful news, hope you manage to get something tasty from the grapes that survived. Great to hear how everyone rallies round when something goes wrong, makes my worries seem so trivial.

2 years ago

Angel

Really sorry to hear about this and hope that the effects are not long lasting.

Out of interest, is there any merit in making a wine using slightly cooked/smoked grapes?

2 years ago

Angel

That is truly sad news, and utterly devastating for your friends. Heartwarming to hear about the volunteer fire crews working so hard to save what they could, and the support from local folk. I really hope that something can be salvaged from the crop to help them out. My best wishes to them and to you.

2 years ago

Archangel

Sorry to hear that Sam, has anyone ever tried to make wine using reverse osmosis using fire tainted grapes?

2 years ago

Archangel

That sounds truly awful let us know if you are able to salvage some of their grapes :-((

2 years ago

Archangel

Fingers crossed that some of the crop is salvageable, poor guys!

2 years ago

Archangel

There's clearly much sympathy being expressed here - we've heard of similarly disastrous situations before (albeit due to different cause) via Naked. Perhaps Eamon and the crew might be able to help out again in exchange for delivery of a future deal or two?

2 years ago

Archangel

Aw Sam, that's awful. Please give all our love & huge best wishes to those affected, & as all here I really hope some of the grapes can be saved, & they can claim something on the insurance.

2 years ago

Angel

Dreadful news,hopefully something can be salvaged,tell your friends our thoughts and prayers are with them.

2 years ago

Archangel

In your words Sam, bugga. So sorry to read this. What a precarious business all forms of agriculture can be at times, potentially hostage to all sorts of events beyond your control. My thoughts and sympathy to all those affected.

2 years ago

Archangel

Oh man brings it all home, the uncertainty of what you guys do. Hoping for good news.

2 years ago

Archangel

That's awful news Sam. I really hope you can salvage some of the grapes. It's good to hear you are all pulling together. My thoughts are with you all x

2 years ago

Angel

I am sure with Community Spirit the future will be brighter. As an Angel I would like to see Naked Wines stepping up to the plate with some creative ideas for support. I will at the front of the queue to support.

2 years ago

Archangel

Very sad, Sam, but at least no-one was injured, by the sound of it. Nature has a way of bouncing back, as do people. All the best to everyone concerned. Please keep us posted.

2 years ago

Angel

Very sad news 😟

2 years ago

All the best for you and your friends/neighbours Sam. Awful, can't imagine how difficult this is right now :(

2 years ago

Winemaker

Hi Guys,
Thanks for kind thoughts. I'll print out this string and show Winsome and Snow tomorrow (we'll be picking the Cabernet which has had fire under it; from the bucket ferment, I'm pretty sure something decent can be made). They'll be chuffed to read notes from kind people on the other side of the world.
I had an email from Eamon overnight asking how NW can help (thank you!). Not sure what, but I'm pretty sure something good will come out of an otherwise bad situation. And as you say Julie, nature and people have a way of bouncing back, and both Winsome and Snow very positive people.
Mike and Claire, interesting question about smoke taint and reverse osmosis. In 2007 and again in 2009 we made wine from grapes which were tainted by smoke. Vines in a smoke haze absorb some of the smoke particles. The vine recognizes these as foreign, so parks the smoke compounds in something which hangs off the vine and will ultimately drop off - the grapes! The smoke compounds are often bound up with sugar in the grapes, so you can eat the grapes but they don't necessarily taste smokey. It is only during ferment that the smoke is released from the sugar and makes the wine taste smokey. At high levels the taste is unpleasant - like an ashtray. At low levels it isn't bad, and I think can actually taste a bit like wine that has been in an oak barrel. The smoke compounds are very small, and will pass through a reverse osmosis membrane with the permeate (permeate looks like water, and in fact is mostly water and a few other small compounds such as the smoke molecules). Smart people have figured out that this smoke effected permeate can be passed over some resin, or something which the volatile smoke compounds want to stick to, then the permeate can be put back into the retained wine, but without the smoke! So reverse osmosis can help fix smoke taint in wine, but its not a 100% fix.
In the case of Winsome and Snows Cabernet, I don't think the smoke was around long enough to be absorbed by the wine.
Nancy, I can't remember if it was Snow you met, but that you describe him as a lovely gentleman, sounds about right!
Cheerio. Sam

2 years ago

Archangel

Sam sir, you are as always such a fountain of fascinating knowledge particles - I dream that some of them might be reverse osmosicised(...) into my brain bucket!

Well again, I so so hope things turn out okay for your guys - and yes indeed, I really hope we Naked types might be able to help in some fashion!

2 years ago

Angel

Fascinating stuff, looking forward to hearing the results of your tastings.

2 years ago

Archangel

Cheers Sam, I love your answers always interesting and imformative

2 years ago

Archangel

Fingers crossed that everything pans out well for the guys and the harvest

2 years ago

Angel

Awful news but sounds like a chance for a naked marketplace rescue deal...and Lotty's favourite wines taste of Strepsils and fags (cough sweets and cigarettes)

2 years ago

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