Pre-season Preparation

Bushfires and smoke can affect vineyards at very short notice, putting wine businesses under pressure to act quickly, rationally and safely in a high-stress environment. By pre-summer planning, using the below strategies, wine businesses will be better equipped to manage emergency fire events.

Contingency Plans

Have contingency plans for grape sales, harvesting and winemaking methods, as well as wine styles. Consider alternative styles that will be more conducive to the conditions. For example, in a smoke affected vintage, fruit harvested early and quickly for use as a sparkling base juice may be a better option than leaving it on the vine (at more risk of smoke taint) to ripen for table wine.

Laboratory Testing Options

Identify laboratory testing options before each fire season. Check where your sample processing and/or dispatch sites are; that your account details are up-to-date; and what grape material transport permits may be required. Contact details for NATA-accredited laboratories can be found under Monitoring Smoke Taint – Laboratory Testing and Testing Methods in the Plan For Impact section of this guide.

Sensory Training and Panels

Sensory training and panels are both important elements of your plan. Regional sensory panels have been established by Wine Victoria and AWRI to provide guidance on smoke taint procedures, with further advice available from the AWRI on sensory evaluation of smoke compounds in wine. Check with your local association on whether there is one located near you.

Considering Safety and Property

Considering safety and property is an essential part of your fire plan. More information regarding personal safety and property protection can be found at the following organisations;

 Country Fire Authority (CFA)
 Insurance Council of Australia
 WorkSafe Victoria