Marlborough wine companies assess damage after 7.5 earthquake

Cracks on State Highway 1, north of Ward.
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Cracks on State Highway 1, north of Ward.

Engineers will be out in force in wineries around Marlborough on Monday, checking tanks and assessing damage after the devastating earthquake overnight.

Wine was spilt and there were reports of damage at some wineries, which comes at a bad time for the industry as it prepares for the next vintage.

There was some damage at the Riverlands Industrial Estate, south of Blenheim, where tanks holding as much as 240,000 litres split, sending wine over the road.

Yealands Wine Group operating manager Michael Wentworth said their Seaview winery, near Seddon, was without power.

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In a statement posted to their website, the company said there had been "notable damage at the winery, and it remains closed for safety reasons while the damage is being assessed and cleaned."

"We've got damage to tanks and as a result of the shaking we've lost some wine, but it's too early to estimate how much that is," Wentworth said.

Wine Marlborough chairman Rhyan Wardman said the winery he worked in, Giesen Wines in the Riverlands estate, was not badly damaged.

"We've had a number of barrels that have toppled but otherwise we've come through this pretty much unscathed," he said.

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"Today is all about assessment of our infrastructure, we've got engineers on site to check our tanks and cat walks, so we'll probably have a clearer picture at the end of the day about how we fared."

Wine was pouring out of some tanks at the Riverlands estate overnight, which would be costly for wine companies, but Wardman said the high standard of engineering would have prevented too much damage.

"In terms of the wineries themselves it's probably a bit early to say whether this is going to be a big setback, but my sense is it's not," he said.

"We've been through a number of earthquakes, so the engineering is up to a high standard."

Wardman said it was fortunate the earthquake struck on a Sunday evening instead of Monday night, when there might have been more people around the estate.

"It's an anxious time for all of us that live and work here," he said.

There were reports last night that emergency services responded to reports of people being trapped under wine tanks at Riverlands.

However, Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Richard McNamara said the reports were unfounded.

There were difficulties, but these had been resolved, he said.

WineWorks managing director Tim Nowell-Usticke said the bottling facility in the Riverlands Industrial Estate was not operating on Monday, but there was minimal damage.

"We've reaped the benefits of making sure all our finished goods, that's bottled wine, is stored in highly earthquake resistant racks," he said.

The company was unable to shift wine from its distribution centre on Monday, to either Christchurch or across Cook Strait because of road closures. 

 - The Marlborough Express

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