Grape growers encouraged to seek help to avoid financial squeeze

Australia’s leading rural charity Rural Aid has put a renewed focus on bushfire recovery efforts, through a new campaign to help the winemaking industry, called VineAid.

Aussie grape growers are still incurring significant financial losses in the wake of the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, with some estimates suggesting $100 million worth of Aussie grapes were ruined in the horrific bushfires through smoke taint alone. 

Rural Aid has also brought major wine industry players together for the relief initiative, with Naked Wines coming on board to provide financial assistance in the form of a $50,000 donation to struggling growers, to help kick start VineAid.

Drew Tuckwell, a winemaker in New South Wales’ Orange region, believes the industry needs vital support,  
“In a nearly 30-year career in winemaking, I have never not made wine during the harvest, but you need to harvest grapes to make wine and unfortunately in 2020, the grapes were completely ruined by bushfire smoke taint.” 

“Not only was I unable to make my wines, but our whole cash flow cycle has been interrupted. This disrupts the funding for the next harvest.”

“Due to the financial backing of Naked Wines, I’ve been one of the lucky ones. But the issues are ongoing and there are more winemakers, growers and rural communities that need support. Programs like this are vital to our survival,” said Mr Tuckwell.

Bushfires haven’t been the only threat to the industry; crippling China trade tariffs, covid-19 tourist restrictions, insect plagues and severe drought have all wreaked havoc on the prosperity and financial success of winemakers and growers.

Rural Aid CEO John Warlters has acknowledged the role played by Josh Ingham from The Epicurean Collective, in recognising the need for an initiative like VineAid, and is encouraging grape growers to register with Rural Aid for assistance, “VineAid will provide financial relief and access to mental wellbeing support – two areas the sector has identified as being in high demand”.

Naked Wines Managing Director, Alicia Kennedy strongly feels this type of financial assistance must and should come from industry leaders, alongside more traditional income streams, “Supporting independent winemakers is business as usual for us and it’s important consumers and retailers do that everyday through buying, drinking and enjoying Australian wine. However, it’s just as important to provide real support in times like this where most small winemakers and growers don’t have the resources to get through and the consequences can be dire, long lasting and in some cases, permanent.”

“We’re proud to have been able to provide support for our own community of Naked Winemakers affected by the bushfires, but this donation and partnership represents the boundless passion of our members and employees who also wanted to extend their support to the broader winemaking and grower community.”

“Rural Aid has a track record for doing amazing, practical work in the rural community and we’re very happy for them to put our $50,000 donation to good use, kick start VineAid and continue doing what they do so well,” concluded Ms Kennedy.

The Epicurean Collective’s Wine Rewards is also supporting VineAid by donating 1% of its annual revenue to the cause. 

Founder Josh Ingham is urging vino lovers to do their bit, “Consumers can help the wine industry by getting out and purchasing local wines and supporting the businesses that employ Australians”.

Growers registered with Rural Aid can apply for the full suite of assistance, including $1,000 of financial assistance or bill payments; a $500 pre-paid Visa card; drinking water and fodder. Importantly, they are also able to reach out to a member of Rural Aid’s resilience building wellbeing team for counselling support. Growers also have access Rural Aid’s community development programs, including the Farm Army service, where farmers are matched with capable volunteers and labourers.
To register as a grower, or to donate, visit


All media enquiries contact Rural Aid media 0447 116 757

About Naked Wines:
Today, Naked Wines boasts 57 of the best independent winemakers from across Australia and New Zealand, including emerging and award-winning winemakers who have worked for famous labels like Yalumba, Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Vasse Felix, and now work for themselves. Six new local winemakers have joined the Naked Wines stable in the last 12 months, including the talented and acclaimed Phillip Moraghan (ex Curly Flat), Paige McCardle, Josh Pfeiffer from Whistler (ex Henschke), Glenn Barry (ex Knappstein) and Ben Riggs of Mr Riggs Wine Co. (ex Wirra Wirra).
For years, the big supermarkets and their bottle shops have been giving winemakers and wine drinkers a raw deal. Their buying clout forces local winemakers, who want to reach Australian drinkers, to churn out wine which the big players then stick a fancy label on and mark-up significantly, meaning that by the time consumers buy it, the majority of what’s in the bottle is retailer margin and marketing. Winemakers are driven to the wall and consumers are, at best, short changed. In fact, the only winners are the big bottle shops and supermarkets.

About The Epicurean Collective:
Combining decades of industry expertise with a deeply engrained family history in rural Australia of more than 180 years, Founder Josh Ingham is ensuring that Australian food and wine remains at the forefront of connoisseurs for generations to come.
The Epicurean Collective is driven to reconnect consumers with the Australian wine industry by bringing exceptional cellar door experiences into the digital space.  The Epicurean supports the Australian wine and tourism industries with their unique WINE REWARDS loyalty and rewards platform launching in October 2021.