Easing restrictions give wineries renewed hope for winter
SOUTHERN Downs wineries are back in business, with some saying easing coronavirus restrictions could save their winter season.
This week, Summit Estate Wines restarted their popular 'Sunset Sessions' wine tastings, which give visitors the opportunity to enjoy locally produced wine and a view at the same time.
Summit Estate Wines cellar door manager Nick Pasley said being able to finally reopen their doors to customers felt "like New Year's".
"It's just so good to see, it's put the fun back into selling wine," Mr Pasley said.
"We had four couples come in (Friday) afternoon around sunset, and they all had a great time.
"We are limited to a smaller number of wine choices just to keep the time people are here to a minimum, but apart from that it's great."
Mr Pasley added that while the virus outbreak had wiped out their tourism revenue, it had enabled the winery to build up their online customer base.
"We've always had our website for online sales, but obviously a lot of people who couldn't come to the tastings were still going online," he said.
"I was probably here more often than when we were open, because I was having to come in on my days off to send web orders.
"It's been so great having that support from the community."
Despite the excitement surrounding the return of cellar door tastings, the cellar door manager said the protracted drought remains a crippling issue for the wine industry.
"At the end of it all, we're still just waiting for rain, because our dams are still really low," Mr Pasley said.
"The rain we had really didn't do much, other than green up the grass a bit right before the frost came and turned it brown again.
"We're just praying for this wet winter everyone's talking about."
Above all, Mr Pasley said Summit Estate Wines and many other wineries across the region will be grateful for the chance to get back on their feet in time for the winter season.
"Anyone who wants to book at this stage, just come along and we'll take you on an as-come basis," Mr Pasley said.
"It's been tough, and I just can't wait to get back to normal, whatever that's going to look like."
Summit Estate Wines' Sunset Sessions events will run every Friday and Saturday afternoon from 4pm.
For more information, call Summit Estate Wines on (07) 4683 2011.