The trade organisation for New Zealand wine has said the extent of the damage to vineyards caused by Cyclone Gabrielle is still being assessed.

The cyclone hit the North Island on February 12, moving down the east coast – home to both the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne wine regions. New Zealand prime minister Chris Hipkins called it the biggest natural disaster the country has faced this century.

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan said the clean-up process has started in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne vineyards, with many wineries turning their attention to the harvest.

“Cyclone Gabrielle has occurred on the cusp of the busiest time of year for the industry,” he said, “just as the 2023 vintage is about to begin, and it is a major blow for affected growers and wineries throughout Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne. We have been working with our regional associations and government agencies to support and help them access the resources they need to ensure the future viability of their vineyards.”

As the extent of the damage in flooded regions becomes clearer, Gregan said many winegrowers who have not been as extensively affected are moving on from the initial phase of response, to start the harvest.

“We have a large number of vineyards in both regions that have not been as significantly impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, and these winegrowers are beginning to harvest their crop, with many producers still feeling positive and looking forward to a high-quality vintage,” added Gregan.

 Meanwhile, others, who have suffered damage to their vineyards and wineries, need help to begin recovery.

“Those affected have a long road ahead of them to assess the damage, undertake the clean-up and consider their future,” he said. “The recovery funding announced by the Government this week is a good start to making this all possible, and future financial relief that is expected to be announced in due course will be appreciated.

“The ongoing challenges over the past few years have proven the resilience and adaptability of the New Zealand wine community, and the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle has been met with the same strength and determination.”

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