Wineries in the Wimmera and Grampians regions have made the tough decision to close their doors to the public to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
With news of Grampians Grape Escape and the Pyrenees Unearthed Festival still fresh in their minds, Lower Norton wineries Barangaroo Wines and Norton Estate, as well as Best's Great Western and Pomonal Estate, have reported closures over the weekend, bringing an end to a boom period for the industry.
Chris Spence, owner of Norton Estate in Lower Norton, said his business was going gangbusters in the past 12 months.
"Heading into this summer, we were going along beautifully," Mr Spence said.
"We were receiving amazing support from the community, the cellar door was busy and we had several events booked in advance.
"However, we've been effectively told to basically trade as a bottle shop now, and focus on package sales and take away.
"We've cancelled gatherings, weddings, any visits that basically aren't by-appointment-only."
While the closure is financially a bitter pill to swallow, Mr Spence said he agrees with the closure.
"Ethically and morally, we are responsible for the health and well being of our patrons. You only have to look at a recent wedding in NSW where 37 people have tested positive to COVID-19.
"Who wants the weight of potential infection hanging over their business?"
Mr Spence said he and his wife are now working their way through a swag of information from the state and federal government, in the hope to minimise the impact of the closure.
"These implications will stretch far and wide; I think it'll set our industry back to 2004, which was one of the worst years for winemaking in the region."
One immediate implication of closing down the public's main access to a winery is staff employment.
This week, Pomonal Estate owners Pepita and Adam Atchison were forced to make an announcement they never hoped would ever eventuate: letting go 16 casual staff members.
"On Monday morning we told our staff we had to let them go; I felt horrible," Mrs Atchison said.
"We have 16 staff members, all of who have helped Pomonal Estate get to where it is today, and we had to tell them we don't have any work for them.
"They all know they will be welcome back when all of this is over, but who knows when they'll be."
Mrs Atchison said she and her husband will make home delivery and coordinate online sales, but she is unsure when the business will open its doors again.
"We have 12 weddings booked through to September; we haven't cancelled any of them yet, but a decision will be made eventually.
"We've been around for two years, and we've worked very hard to get where we are, but this self-isolation will hurt us and the entire industry."
While wine sales can take place in the short term, there are fears shut-down of the industry will be felt for years to come.
Sheila McClure of Barangaroo Wines said her business was obliged to turn away pickers for the upcoming vintage.
"Because of this virus, we couldn't get any pickers in to pick this year's vintage, so Chris and I had to start it ourselves on Sunday," Mrs McClure said.
"We only picked the Shiraz vintage, meaning we still have the Cabernet and Merlot to go.
"Fortunately we are able to send our grapes to our normal winemaker, so long as we observe all of the normal social distancing rules.
"Unfortunately, this has come at an already difficult time. The region was hit by frost two years ago and the vintage was down and we're just starting to recover."
Mrs McClure said closing the businesses cellar door will cost thousands of dollars each week.
"We'll continue supplying wine to local bottle shops, but we won't do any home deliveries because we want the community to support the business that is still open."
In a proactive decision, Best's Great Western close its doors to the public a week ago, so that vintage pickers were not affected by the coronavirus.
"We needed to safeguard our staff and customers," national sales manager Graham Hogan said.
"We only get one chance per year to pick our vintage so we needed to get this right."
Mr Hogan said customers can still order online as freight services will continue to run.
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