How our winemakers are coping with Australian bushfires – and how you can help

Amidst the worst Australian bushfire crisis seen in decades, many of our fantastic customers have been in touch to ask how they can help.

Turn on the news or open up a paper and it’s clear to see the country is in trouble. At least 28 people have lost their lives, thousands more have lost their homes and huge swathes of land have been destroyed.

It’s easy to feel helpless, especially from the other side of the world, so we’ve sent on your messages to our buyer Dan Parrott in Melbourne.

“It’s been very tense,” he told us. “If you’re not in the fire yourself, you know someone who is. It has touched everybody.

“Right now it’s raining which is great. Even before the fires we had drought, so it’s brought a sense of relief which we haven’t had for a long time.

“But we’re only halfway through the summer. We’re definitely not out of danger yet … no one would dare to say that.”

How has the wine industry been affected by the bushfires?

The extent of the damage caused by the Australian bushfire crisis to the wine industry as a whole is not yet known.

Wineries might have lost stock they’d been storing from previous vintages, and if that’s the case their insurance may well cover it. Others may have lost vineyards, although it’s far too early to know how many have been affected. And we won’t know if surviving vines have been too badly damaged by smoke to create wine for another month or so.

But one thing vineyards, wineries and many other businesses across the country are struggling with is a lack of tourism.

“People from all over the world come to Australia at Christmas time,” Dan said.

Laithwaite's Wine buyer Dan Parrott is based in Melbourne
Dan Parrott has been reaching out to our Australian winemakers to offer help to anyone affected by the bushfires

“They visit the vineyards, they stay in hotels, they eat at the restaurants. But we’ve lost a lot of tourist trade for months now.

“So the best thing people in the UK can do to help those struggling regions is to buy products from those places which have been affected.

“I’ve reached out to our winemakers to see if they’re okay. As we speak, all of their partners, families and loved ones are all safe. We have very good relationships with them so it’s more personally sympathetic than business conversations at the minute. All we can do is tell them we’re thinking of them and let them know we’re here if they need us.”

How can you help the Bushfire Appeal?

In terms of practical support our customers can offer right now, Dan says the best way to help is to donate money to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal. Clothes donations and food drives are great, but have been well covered locally.

But donating to the Red Cross will ensure victims of the Australian bushfire crisis who have lost their homes are housed, clothed and fed.

“In Australia we have a saying … ‘everything can be replaced but people’.

“Every region has a fire plan, and that’s to leave. So people in affected areas won’t have packed anything up, they just get out of there. And that’s who the Bushfire Appeal helps.”

To donate go to https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-donate.