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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
7 Mar 2008

You might be interested in this communication from Andrew Kay, CEO of Wirra Wirra in McLaren Vale, about an industrial accident there, especially in view of our regular weekly despatches from Richard Hemming working in a winery close by.


By now many of you will be aware of the accident that happened on site at Wirra Wirra yesterday. Media reports have varied significantly and I thought it was important for you to receive direct communication from us about the significance of the accident.


A group of upright fermenters collapsed, resulting in one cellarhand being injured and a number of fermenters, tanks and a press being damaged. As the tanks were full, there was some loss to our 2008 vintage. We are currently working closely with the authorities and SafeWork SA to assess the full extent of the damage.


I'm very proud of the way the Wirra Wirra tribe responded to the crisis and effectively put our Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental procedures into progress.


Given the nature of the accident during a typical busy vintage day, we were incredibly fortunate that only one injury was incurred. Our thoughts are with our young cellar hand, Greg, who is currently in a serious, yet stable condition in hospital. We are pleased to hear that he is making positive progress.


While it is difficult to determine at this time the full extent of wine lost, it is significantly less than has been reported. We estimate around 300,000 litres was in the tanks at the time – a mixture of 2008 whites and red. This would represent around 15% of our production. Some of the wine in tank may still be salvageable, while offers of fruit from growers to offset the loss have been coming in thick and fast. Whilst the loss of wine is important to our business, clearly the safety and welfare of our staff is of greatest priority at this time.


We are in the process of putting together a vintage plan, using what WW facilities are available, in conjunction with the generous offers of production facilities from our McLaren Vale neighbours. We have been extremely touched by their support and generosity in this difficult time.


So for us, we are in the process of returning to "business as usual"  as best we can and if any team is capable of pulling together to make this happen, it's the Wirra Wirra tribe.


I thank you all for the good wishes that we have received and your understanding at this time.


Greg Trott produced the first vintage of Church Block back in 1972 "with a little help from his friends". It looks like history will repeat itself in 2008.