Tank fixers pressed for time
Wine tank manufacturers are under pressure to complete earthquake repairs and deliver replacement tanks in time for harvest.
Crown Sheetmetal general manager Andrew Horton said his Blenheim and Invercargill workshops had made a total of 375 tanks for the upcoming vintage. Last season they made 112.
"It's difficult, there is a lot more pressure on us this time around," he said. "We are flat out trying to make delivery dates."
The company had to employ four extra staff in each workshop to cope with the added workload, Mr Horton said.
It also employed 13 extra contractors to help with repair work to existing tanks that had been quake-damaged.
"In our Blenheim workshop they are making new tanks and we have another crew doing repairs on site. They are busy re-strengthening the tanks."
Repairs and replacements would be completed before the early harvest, Mr Horton said.
Taylor's Engineering marketing manager Conway Taylor said it had been busy focusing on building new tanks, though it had carried out some repairs as well.
Most of those involved reinstating hold-down bolts on the tanks, Mr Taylor said.
"There has obviously been extra pressure on everybody with the earthquake repairs going on but we are under control."
The company hadn't employed extra workers but existing staff were working overtime, he said.
"It's just about people pulling out all the stops."
Yealands Estate owner Peter Yealands said he had replaced his damaged tanks and would be "up and running with no issues at all".
However, he had to drop about 50 per cent of this year's crop, spending about $500,000 on manual labour.
"By doing that there will be no issues with quality or processing them," Mr Yealands said. "It's the first time we've had to do it in such a large manner. It's frustrating because it costs an enormous amount of money to do it. But it's nice to have it to drop."
He expected to crush close to 20,000 tonnes this year, compared to 4000 tonnes in 2008.
Lawson's Dry Hills Winery general manager Sion Barnsley said it had 40 tanks in total, and eight needed repairs.
"It's not noticeable damage . . . you can't see external damage..
"It has affected the integrity of the tanks."
The repairs were all about maintaining the quality of the wine, he said.
"The one that was badly damaged has been fixed. It is just remedial work now. It is prudent to get things repaired so it doesn't happen again."
Vineyards around the region are reporting bumper crops and have been dropping excess fruit lately to maintain good fruit flavour and assist ripening. Good weather also means an early harvest is expected.
The Marlborough Express