Monday, 03 April 2023 14:25

Editorial: Cyclone Gabrielle

Written by  Sophie Preece

Going, going, gone. It's perhaps an apt phrase for some of those amid the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle in February, such as Philip Barber of Petane as he watched his steel tractor shed rip apart and its tractors float away.

Appropriate too for those who've struggled against disease pressure this season, with a wet spring and summer in the North Island taking some of the ripest, sweetest fruit and dropping it to the vineyard floor.

But 'going, going, gone' will also ring out in an Auckland auction house in April, seeking a premium price for Petane's silt-rescued wines, in just one of many helping hands on the task of recovery. They included the efforts of local communities to don gumboots and wield a spade, to prepare and deliver meals for volunteers, and to step up and assist seasonal workers displaced by the disaster.

There've been donations to hard-hit wine folk via the Gisborne and Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Associations, while restaurants and wine companies have literally been 'Cooking up a Storm' to raise funds for affected communities. Some wine companies have found other valuable ways with some of their Chardonnay to help winemaker Tony Bish, who's lost 75% of his crop to Gabrielle. "Thanks to our colleagues in Marlborough helping us through a cyclone, we'll be able to keep continuity in the domestic market," he says.

The recovery will be long for those worst affected, but Hawke's Bay and Gisborne's Cyclone Gabrielle wines - whether made from the season or rescued from the floods - will surely have something unforgettable about them. A hint of historic resilience, an aroma of heroic harvesting, and the character of a community strengthened by catastrophe.

Sophie Preece


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