Flooded with wine

This article first appeared in Style Magazine, February 2011
Tyson Stelzer

When the floodwaters devastated the Brisbane Valley on January 11, the little Kaeserberg Vineyard and Winery didn’t stand a chance. “The flood took it all,” said a shattered Jason Kaeser, who planted the vines on his property on the banks of the Lockyer Creek just three years earlier. “My wife and I are absolutely heartbroken but so grateful that we just made it out alive with our three dogs.”

In the same week, Ewen Macpherson’s Symphony Hill vineyard dodged flash floods at Stanthorpe but he expressed concern for the forthcoming vintage. “This cool summer has put us about four weeks behind, which means we will run out of time to ripen our cabernet sauvignon,” he said.

This freak weather has taken its toll on the vintage in some parts of Victoria, too. “One dam has burst its banks and we have lost all our cabernet and about half of the rest of the vineyard,” Matthew Barry told me of his Mount Avoca vineyard in the Pyrenees region. When I checked how he was faring a few days later, he said that disease damage will wipe out the rest of the crop.

Mike Kerrrigan’s Hay Shed Hill winery in Margaret River might be thousands of kilometres from floods, but it’s not immune, either. “I have received photos from my distributors, The Wine Tradition in Albion, with their warehouse under water and boxes of wine floating about everywhere,” Mike told me.

In spite of the challenges facing many Australian wineries, the moment word of the Queensland floods hit the news wire, I was inundated by offers of help from the wine trade all over Australia, New Zealand and the world. This prompted me to set up The Australian Wine Trade Flood Relief Raffle.

I immediately put out the call for donations of wine to raffle in aid of the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal. One of the first responses came from Jason Kaeser: “I would like to donate a total of four dozen bottles of wines.” What a gesture. Then Ewen Macpherson: “I would like to donate a bottle of our Symphony Hill Wines 2003 Reserve Shiraz.” Matthew Barry offered two mixed dozens from Avoca, saying that his problems seemed pretty trivial after seeing what was going on here. And Mike Kerrigan threw in two dozen from Hay Shed Hill.

At the time of writing, some 250 wineries have pledged donations of raffle prizes approaching $200,000 in value, including many highly sought after cult wines and large format bottles. Tickets are on sale from February 4 for $30 and all proceeds go to the flood appeal. Please buy a ticket to help Queensland rebuild. www.winefloodrelief.com.au


Tyson’s Picks

Wild Duck Creek Duck Muck Shiraz 2007, $330

This tiny production cult wine is almost impossible to get hold of, unless you have a ticket for the raffle, which could win you an entire dozen! (www.wildduckcreekestate.com)

Giaconda Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2005, $360

Is this Australia’s finest Chardonnay? With this magnum, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to decide for yourself. (www.giaconda.com.au)

Cullen Diana Madeline 2007, $600

Six 3L double magnums of one of Margaret River’s finest cabernet blends are up for grabs in the raffle. (www.cullenwines.com.au)

Kalleske Eduard Shiraz 2008, $900

How many friends would you need to finish a 6L imperial of premium Barossa shiraz? Win the raffle to find out. (www.kalleske.com)