Vineyards in the key growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne in New Zealand have been devastated by flooding caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said: “The severity and the damage that we are seeing has not been experienced in a generation.”
It is only the third time a national state of emergency has been declared in New Zealand. Weather service MetService has described Cyclone Gabrielle as one of the worst storms to hit New Zealand in living history.
Hawkes Bay alone received three times the amount of rain in one night than it usually would during the whole month of February.
Many vines were completely submerged during the cyclone, just weeks before the start of the grape harvest. The extent of the damage won’t be known for some time, with communications and access to some vineyards still cut off by high waters and landslides. It could take weeks to get power and communications back up and running.
Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny told Stuff NZ that it was too early to say how the damage might affect the $1.9 billion wine export industry.
“We do know those regions have suffered significant damage but to say anything specific about the long term effects would be speculation at this stage,” he said.
“We will have a better idea next week when access and communications start to improve.”
“The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle, and the extent of the damage on vineyards in badly flooded areas, is still being assessed,” said a spokesperson for New Zealand Winegrowers.
“This is a significant weather event in the North Island of New Zealand, and it has occurred on the cusp of the busiest time of year for the industry. It is a serious concern for growers and wineries in badly affected areas. Post-Cyclone Gabrielle, dry and sunny weather will be needed to mitigate any short-term damage on this year’s vintage, and reduce disease pressure on the grapes.”
There are anecdotal reports that 13 hectares of vineyard have been washed out to sea, with waves recorded as high as 11 metres along some coasts.
Greg Miller, who owns the Valley D’Vine restaurant and Function Centre located on Linden East Winery in Eskdale told Stuff NZ: “The whole of the Hawke’s Bay has been smashed, it’s not just this valley, Dartmoor Valley has gone, Puketapu has gone, it’s Wairoa and it’s Gizzy.
“Mate, it looks like a war zone.”
Pernod Ricard delivers emergency supplies
The Pernod Ricard Winemakers team in Auckland organised emergency supplies for their colleagues in Hawke’s Bay.
“In true Pernod Ricard spirit, our team in Auckland were not going to let that get in the way of supporting their colleagues,” the company said.
“In under 24 hours they have tracked down a helicopter, filled it will essential supplies, and delivered it to the region to support the team. We are thinking of all those people who have been, and continue to be, impacted by the cyclone.”