Aussies Fight Fires, Other Woes

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aussiefire.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Clearly, this is not the year for the Australian wine industry. With exports sagging as a result of the global financial crisis, unfavorable exchange rates and increased competition in the value sector, Australian winemakers are facing serious challenges - not the least of which is picking up the pieces from a deadly blaze that whipped through Victoria Saturday, decimating vineyards and winery buildings and killing more than 100 people across the state.
Scene of Mass Destruction
As of early Monday, bush fires continued to rage in parts of the Yarra Valley, a relatively cool Aussie region near Melbourne known for its critically-acclaimed Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and sparkling wines (global bubbly pioneer Domaine Chandon has an outpost there). Weekend fires were stoked by record temperatures that stopped just shy of 120 degrees, then fanned by gale-force winds. As one vintner put it to Decanter, "it's a scene of mass destruction." Fortunately, the industry has begun rallying around damaged properties, and Foster's Australia has committed some A$750,000 to bush fire relief in the area. Let's hope the region - and Australia's wine industry as a whole - get a break from all this bad news before long.

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