It is never a good time to suddenly lose both your life's work and livelihood but it must be particularly bitter for it to happen at Christmas time. On 17th December 2019 a bush fire, believed to have been started by two children, destroyed Sam O'Keefe's cool climate Lismore Estate in the Greyton region to the east of Stellenbosch, South Africa. A crowdfunding page has been set up to help her rebuild here.
'Devastating Greyton Wildfire destroyed Lismore Winefarm - the home and livelihood of Samantha O'Keefe and her children.
Sam O'Keefe, well-known pioneering farmer and winemaker lost homestead, cellar and everything she built since 2003 in a blazing fire on 17 December 2019. After years of ruinous setbacks, her wines received international recognition and accolades - with it now all being burnt to the ground. Sam, a single mother of two has persevered through multiple challenges throughout her journey at Lismore. This one she can only face with the help and generosity of good people.'
To date 515,679 Rand (nearly £28,000) has been raised.
Unfortunately O'Keefe is not the only wine producer to have been affected recently by bush/forest fires caused by drought and extreme temperatures.
Back in late October the Sonoma Valley, California was hit by fire near Geyserville with the nearby Soda Rock Winery destroyed by the inferno. Fortunately no lives were lost and it is thought that the long term damage is likely to come from visitors put off by the threat of fire as this is the second fire in the last three years.
From around 20th December the Adelaide Hills were hit by devastating bush fires whipped up by high winds that continued for a number of days with estimates that a third of the vineyards may have been wiped out as well as numerous homes lost and livestock killed. The Australian bush fires are continuing in New South Wales and Victoria.
Creating a successful vineyard is a long-term project – it cannot be done overnight. Unfortunately this will be exactly the same for any vineyards seriously affected by fire. In the past vineyards have often been firebreaks but in these circumstances this has not been the case.
The effects of climate change are becoming ever more clear. Even in the Loire this September parts of the region was on high alert when high winds were forecast after months of drought and high temperatures transforming scrub and woodland into tinderboxes.
As 2020 approaches – the start of the third decade of the third millennium AD – I hope we will see fewer of these natural disasters, though I suspect that it is a forlorn hope. It would be great for the Loire to be frost-free......
Anyway a belated: