After the apocalypse

Brokenwood cellar door counter in the Hunter Valley

How smoke taint and a pandemic have forced Australia’s winemakers to adapt and innovate.

‘How are you going?’ asks Clonakilla winemaker Tim Kirk. ‘How’s your mental health?’

Hold on a minute. Shouldn’t I be asking the questions? After all, I’d phoned Kirk to see how he’s going since he announced in February that Clonakilla wouldn’t be harvesting any of their vineyards due to smoke taint from the awful summer bushfires.

Then I remember: I’m in Melbourne. Four weeks into a six-week return to hard lockdown following a surge in COVID-19 cases in July. Our borders are closed to Australia’s...