Wineries in clean-up mode following quakes

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 07:37 19/08/2013
wine tanks
Derek Flynn

A frightening place to stand during an earthquake

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Cellar managers and winemakers are assessing damage to Marlborough wineries today, following Friday's 6.6 quake and the subsequent aftershocks.

There have been reports of significant damage at wineries throughout the region, with wine tanks rupturing and bolts anchoring the massive tanks to the floor sheared clean off. The quakes have also caused metal walkways at some wineries to warp.

There have been no reports of injury.

Seddon winery Yealands Estate, which is near the epicentre of the quakes, has damage, along with South Pacific Cellars (SPC) in Blenheim.

Saint Clair Family Estate and Giesen Winery at Riverlands Industrial Estate, and Indevin at Cloudy Bay Industrial Estate, also appeared to be in clean-up mode on Friday evening as the aftershocks rumbled on.

Damage was also reported further afield at Lawson's Dry Hills in Blenheim and at the Villa Maria Estate winery in Fairhall.

SPC winery manager Graeme Paul said all staff were safe, but a wine cellar and several tanks of wine had sustained "significant damage".

"When the shaking starts and the tanks are rattling and rolling, it's pretty terrifying."

Riverlands Industrial Estate lost power for at least two hours following the initial quake, and it was "gratifying" that cellar staff and friends from neighbouring wineries, including Mud House Wines, rushed to their aid, providing generators, pumps and manpower, he said.

Staff did what they could to pump wine leaking from damaged tanks to secure tanks, but one of the buildings was too dangerous to enter, and the extent of the loss was still unknown, he said.

"At the moment we've got it locked down, it's a no-go zone," he said yesterday.

"We'll be re-assessing with the owners, and the landlords whom we lease the facility from [today], and plan a course of action from there."

Saint Clair Family Estate senior winemaker Hamish Clark said on Friday one of their 300,000-litre tanks holding 2013 sauvignon blanc had ruptured. They managed to save most of the wine by pumping it into spare tanks, but there would probably be "thousands of litres" of wine lost.

Villa Maria founder Sir George Fistonich said the quakes had been "very stressful" for staff, but there were no injuries, and only "the odd drop of wine" was lost.

"There was a lot of movement in the tanks and the walkways, but nothing collapsed. Overall there has been no major damage.

"Some of the bolts loosened up, or have been stretched, but they did the job they were meant to do, and stopped the tanks from going anywhere," he said.

Villa Maria's winemakers and staff would be thoroughly assessing the damage today.

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- The Marlborough Express

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