Published on Feb 17, 2020

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Bushfire affected wine-grape growers across NSW will have access to free smoke taint tests, through a new program funded by the NSW Government.

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said NSW businesses were heavily impacted by the bushfires and the NSW Government is acting quickly to ensure communities and industries get back on their feet.

“On top of houses, commercial properties and outbuildings, the bushfires have also impacted primary producers, industries and our export market across NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The smoke haze from the bushfires has hurt wine-grape growing regions, which is why the Government has put this program in place and will provide free smoke taint tests to those wine growers.”

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said everyone had been affected differently by the bushfires and in turn, everyone’s road to recovery would differ.

“If grapes are exposed to smoke in the later stages of the growing season, they can produce undesirable, burnt flavours in wine,” Mr Marshall said.

“We need to protect NSW wine markets and avoid smoke-tainted wine from reaching consumers, and the analysis of grapes is key to ensuring that happens.”

Mr Marshall said the funding would cover a number of tests per business to a cap of $1,200, and would be available for all impacted wine-grape growers across NSW.

“Smoke taint tests cost around $300, and we want to support wine-grape growers to access this service at a time when cash flow has been impacted through the ongoing impacts of drought and now smoke haze,” Mr Marshall said.

Early sample analyses from the Hunter Valley, Mudgee and Orange had shown some smoke taint levels above critical thresholds, which consumers could easily detect.

NSW Wine Industry Association President Mark Bourne has welcomed the announcement and said it comes at a crucial time for the industry.

‘‘Vintage 2020 is certainly proving to be a challenge for the NSW wine industry that is in the midst of a very difficult drought, but also had to deal with fires and the devastating effects of smoke,” Mr Bourne said.

“We appreciate this support from the NSW Government that will enable our growers and wine producers to test grapes, so that they can make informed decisions about how to progress with harvesting this season’s grapes and winemaking across NSW.”

For more information on bushfire recovery and available financial assistance for producers and farming businesses visit