Why growers need viticulture insurance to protect their vineyards

How is your vineyard protected? There are more than 1.6 million tonnes of wine grapes produced around Australia every year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Red wine makes up most of this, with 844,000 tonnes (produced in 2015), and white wine makes up the remaining 764,000 tonnes during the same year.

That's an enormous amount of produce, and a lot of potential for income loss if just one small thing goes wrong. Vineyards are typically susceptible to fire and storms because of how densely viticultural land is used. This means that if there is a fire or someone vandalises your crop, you could lose a huge number of vines. The nature of wine growing means it could take months or even years to recover from a loss like that, and it will be an expensive period.

With viticulture insurance from Primacy Underwriting Management, your clients' income from vineyards can be protected. It takes more than modern farming techniques to be a successful winemaker.

The way vineyards are organised makes them susceptible to major damages.The way vineyards are organised makes them susceptible to major damages.

What damages could occur to a vine?

It might seem like an unlikely event, but many of Australia's wine regions are susceptible to storms.

This introduces the risk of fire, which can quickly tear an entire vineyard apart. At the start of 2015, Adelaide's wine regions were ravaged by bushfires that destroyed more than 50 per cent of some major vineyards' vines, as reported by Decanter in January 2015.

"We're all safe here in our corner of the Adelaide Hills, but fellow winemakers in the northern parts of the region are [not] so lucky with heat and smoke damaged vineyards a real concern," said owner of Deviation Road Winery Hamish Laurie.

The scary thing about the damage from 2015 was that the bushfires were over 150 kilometres away.

The fire itself is not the only problem for a winemaker – smoke and damaged ground can make it virtually impossible to plant anything for months after the fire has stopped.

This was seen by Margaret River wine grower John Standish, speaking to ABC News on March 23.

"In areas where fruit is close to ripening, like it is here, it's just too risky to be starting to light fire. We really don't know which way the wind's going to go or what's going to happen next."

In 2015, Mr Standish' crops were tainted by bushfires in the region. To disguise the flavour difference, he had to blend two grapes together in order to maintain his delivery schedule. The scary thing about the damage from 2015 was that the bushfires were over 150 kilometres away. Any fires closer to the crops could end up being significantly more damaging. Your viticulturist clients will understand this, and will turn to you as their insurance broker for help.

Chemical spraying is a necessary risk

In many instances, a vineyard must spray their vines with chemicals to protect them from external damages, whether it's the climate or diseases. However, these are applied with a sprayer, which can send some of the chemicals into the air.

Vineyards can be severely damaged by overspraying.Vineyards can be severely damaged by overspraying.

When these chemicals are carried over to other crops, they can interfere with other sprays, causing damage. The spray unit could malfunction, which could result in overspraying, and that could kill a vine completely. In order to save your crops from this, make sure you always check the air velocity before spraying.

Even taking as many precautions as possible might not save your vines from being destroyed, though. To prepare your farming clients for the unexpected, make sure you offer viticulture insurance. Get in touch with Primacy Underwriting Management today for more information.