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Fire-affected wine region urges support for 2020 Crush Festival

The Forager

The devastating Cudlee Creek bushfire won’t affect festivities planned for this month’s Crush Festival in the Adelaide Hills, with 30 wineries and other venues hosting events and organisers urging people to support the region.

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More than 60 grape growers and wine produces were affected by the December fire, which damaged around 1100 hectares of vines, burned infrastructure and the completely destroyed the small-batch Tilbrook Estate Winery.

However, while many cellar doors were forced to close for up to a week due to the ongoing fire risk or lack of power and water, most quickly reopened.

“Everything is now 100 per cent open and they have been quite busy,” says Adelaide Hills Wine Region executive officer Kerry Treuel.

“The full Crush Festival program [January 24-26] will go ahead as scheduled – it’s a really good opportunity for people to get out and support the Hills and help get our growers and producers back on their feet.”

Crush, held annually in January, attracts around 18,000 to 20,000 visitors and is always a “relaxed and festive weekend”, Treuel says.

There have been no event cancellations for this year’s festival, which features activities including long lunches, sunset sessions, garden parties, picnics, masterclasses, twilight dinners, tastings and family entertainment.

Barrister’s Block Premium Wines, which lost all its vineyard in the fire, is still taking part in Crush with three days of events at its undamaged cellar door at Woodside. Kicking things off is “Fiano Fridays”, where the winery will present its first Fiano teamed with oysters, tapas platters and stone-baked pizza, while on the Saturday and Sunday the Block party will include live music, pizza, wine and kids’ entertainment.

Golding Wines’ Lobethal cellar door, terrace areas and garden – which look like a “little green oasis” amid the surrounding scorched vines and landscape –  will host a non-ticketed Hawker in the Hills experience across the weekend of Crush. Visitors can expect Asian street food (bao buns, noodles, satay, etc), a signature “Hawker Spritz”, wine, beer and cider, plus DJ sets on the Saturday and chilled live tunes on the terrace on Sunday.

Howard Vineyard is hosting a Crush event at its Nairne cellar door.

Also embracing the Crush spirit is Howard Vineyard, which lost 30 per cent of its Lobethal vineyard (equivalent to around 100-150 tonnes of wine grapes) in the fires and has removed about 15,000 vines over the past week. “Peach on the Beach”, at its Nairne cellar door on January 25 and 26, invites people to “settle in on the stunning lawn”, with a Rosé fountain, bubbles bar, cocktails, Korean street food and a live band – there are also “V.I.Peach” packages available including a three-hour drinks package and food.

Some wineries are using their Crush events to help raise funds for others affected by bushfires.

O’Leary Walker, which is presenting “Sun Rays + Sparkling for Days” at its Oakbank cellar door, will donate $5 from every bottle sold during the event to the Adelaide Hills Wine Region Fire Appeal, while Bird in Hand has pledged to donate 100 per cent of the takings from its “Dolce Vita” Crush Festival experience to the appeal and the Country Fire Service.

Treuel says grape growers and wine producers affected by the Hills fire are still shaken as they try to come to terms with the extent of the damage and how it will affect their future production.

“The impact is real … we really need to get behind them.

“It’s so important for our region to have a great turnout for Crush Festival. To have a big show of support here over the three days, [with people] really packing out our events and buying our wine and having a good time, will really help our region.”

The full 2020 Crush Festival program is available here.

Around 1100 hectares of vines were damaged in the Cudlee Creek fire. Photo: Kelly Barnes / AAP

Other ways you can help those affected by the Adelaide Hills fires include:

Help the Hills Wine Market at the Mawson Lakes Hotel and Function Centre from 4.30pm – 7.30pm this Thursday (Jan 16) will support wineries and food producers affected by the Cudlee Creek fires, with those participating including Golding Wines, Vinteloper, New Era Vineyards, Riposte, Petaluma and Nova Vita.

Adelaide Hills Wine Region Fire Appeal: This Go Fund Me page was set up by Adelaide Hills Wine Region Inc as the official account to support the recovery efforts and has already raised more than $76,000.

Save Tilbrook Estate Wines: Set up to help the Tilbrook family, which lost everything in the fires except 40 cases of wine stored off-site, this Go Fund Me page has raised more than $40,000 and is seeking to raise up to $150,000.

Tomich Bushfire Recovery Working Bee: Tomich Wines, which lost around half its vineyards in the fires, is hosting a second working bee this Saturday (January 18) for volunteers who want to help its rebuilding efforts.

SA4SA Bushfire Appeal Gala Dinner: This black-tie dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre is raising money to help families and businesses affected by SA bushfires – including those at Cudlee Creek and on Kangaroo Island. Tickets are $160 including a three-course dinner, drinks package and entertainment.

Among the numerous other SA events and initiatives planned to raise money for bushfire relief in all areas is tomorrow’s Bars Fighting Fires, initiated by Rundle Street bar BRKLYN and involving almost 20 Adelaide bars and pubs, and a Bushfire Charity Auction this Sunday at the Port Admiral Hotel.

For a more extensive list of ways to help those affected by both the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island bushfires, read this CityMag story.

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