Winemakers are being innovative

At Shaw Vineyards, they have also seen a drop in sales but are also focusing on online sales with discounts and free delivery.

"At Shaw Wines we have seen a big drop in cellar door sales," business development manager Karen Shaw said. "Our tasting room and wine lounge are shut, we have no visitors coming through the region so this has had a huge effect on sales.

"While there were no bushfires near our vineyard, the smoke that blanketed the region for over two months impacted on visitation. We also lost our entire 2020 vintage to smoke taint.

"We are really focusing on our online sales, offering discounts and free delivery. Also we are working with other partners to promote our wines and the region for when the restrictions lift. Plus we are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the cellar door once restrictions have been lifted.

"We have rescheduled all of this year's events - the re-enactment of Gettysburg and our art exhibition Sculpture@Shaw - and they will be held now in 2021."

Norton Road Winery

As a small family owned winery, Norton Road Winery have only been operating as such for just over 12 months.

"When we took this winery over it did not have any cellar stock so we had to start from scratch, without the luxury of an existing cellar to get started with," Karen and Simon Stratton said.

"While that was challenging, it did provide us with a clean slate to start afresh and build a business that reflects our ethos. Our focus is on sustainability and small batch wine making."

They had Brian Johnson (previously McKellar Ridge) mentor them in the winemaking and they took on the old Summerhill Road vineyard to build their stocks.

"Like most in the district, we have have been unable to use our own grapes this vintage and have brought in grapes from family in the Sunraysia district so that we will have at least one wine this vintage, a Cabernet Sauvignon," Karen said.

"But we are optimistic for the future and we continue to expand our vineyard at our property in Wamboin and are preparing to plant new vines. Our business model will continue to be based on collaboration and sustainability.

"Innovation is also very important to us and we were due to fly to the USA to see how they are responding to drought and bushfires - we are now building those connections online."

Barton Estate Wines

Owner Julie Chitty and Bob Furbank said, "Given that we can't offer tasting at the cellar door at the moment, traffic to us is very much reduced but sales through local bottle shops is still strong and we are focusing on online sales through our website now."

Fortunately Barton Estate Wines had no structural damage to the vineyard from bushfires but the smoke taint was so severe that an early decision was made not to sell fruit or make wine in 2020.

Instead they have put together a variety of six-packs to tempt any palate.

"We had already made plans early this year to release some older vintages we had kept in reserve, and that has become more of a priority," Julie said. "We have a few unusual varieties including Sangiovese and Petit Verdot.

"We offer free delivery to the Canberra region and surrounds and reduced rates further afield.

"We miss the personal interaction of the cellar door and being able to offer special events, so we really look forward to the day we can throw the doors wide open again."

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