Marlborough’s mayor is paying tribute to the region’s wine workers for their handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
John Leggett is praising the local wine industry for successfully handling the 2020 vintage under extreme circumstances.
And with early indications of a successful vintage, the relieved mayor says the industry has helped Marlborough dodge another potential disaster.
“Wine is a very substantial contributor to the overall prosperity of Marlborough so I’m relieved that this is one COVID bullet that we’ve managed to dodge,” he says.
Wineries across the region had to adopt stringent health and hygiene regimes to move ahead with harvest as lockdown began.
Overseas workers, harvest crews and transport operators have been isolated from their families in many cases.
With wine making up a fifth of Marlborough’s economy, it was vital the vintage went well, mayor Leggett says.
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says a successful vintage has helped the region dodge a bullet. Photo: File.
“Everyone has been under huge pressure to get the grapes in, aware that a Covid-19 outbreak could knock down the workforce at any moment.
“It’s to the industry’s credit that harvest is drawing to a close without incident and, by all accounts, it’s a highly successful vintage,
“Vintage is always an intense time for our wineries with everything dependent on the weather, but this year the wineries have faced extra pressure.
“When the vintage goes well, it’s good news for our whole region.”
The ongoing crisis would make “life difficult” for the industry, says mayor Leggett as many international wine trade events and marketing opportunities are postponed.
“It will be a time for innovative marketing and, given our industry reputation and relationships, I’m confident that the strong Marlborough brand will prove its worth,” he says.
There are currently around 400 overseas workers in Marlborough on temporary visas.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment are doing their best to ensure some certainty for temporary migrants, a spokeswoman says.
“An Epidemic Management Notice relating to immigration matters came into effect from 2 April 2020.
“This means that holders of a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 have had their visas automatically extended until 25 September 2020.
“This includes RSE workers who were in New Zealand on 2 April.”