Imminent Bushfire Threatening My Wine Cellar, what should I save?


My house is in Mount Riverview, Blue Mountains, Australia and to be more exact it is the blue dot in the picture and the dark patch is bushfire.

Just a few days ago the fires were way too close to my house as you will see in the video clip below.  Of course it was a surprise and fortunately we received warning, so I grabbed the kids, dog and rushed for safety… but as I drove away I thought ‘AAGGHHHH, WHAT ABOUT MY WINE CELLAR!!!!  Fortunately that fire didn’t reach us and we went back to the house.

However, high winds and high temperatures means ‘RIGHT NOW’ there is a very severe bushfire threat and AGAIN my house is in danger…  I know this as the bushfire brigade are not coming around asking for donations but to tell me ‘please leave now if you don’t need to be here’.

My neighbours have either gone already or desperately clearing their gardens, filling their gutters with water or trying to fit temporary sprinkler systems to the roofs of their houses.

photo (3)My BUSH FIRE PLAN

  1. Wife – check
  2. Kids x3 – check
  3. Dog – check
  4. Invite from The Queen – check
  5. Best wines from cellar – check
  6. Car & running shoes – check


  1. Fill the car with as many sentimental objects as possible until the axles give way!

Now please note, I do not expect that the fire will come back to my house, not today at least (touch wood).  But I am looking out of my window a lot and I do have the ‘fires near me’ App on my iPhone which is constantly updated.  BUT in all this confusion I have a dilemma..  I can’t save my whole wine cellar so what do I save?  What would you save and why?

I did not have time to grab anything last time, but this time I have had time to think about it and have decided to grab six wines (plus one for the road), based on emotional reasons, cost and what I feel I should keep.  All have less than 10 years bottle age.

  1. Cold Stream Hills – Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
  2. Tatachilla Foundation – McLarean Vale Shiraz
  3. Charles Menton ‘Nine Popes’ – Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre
  4. Kreglinger ‘Pipers Brook upper slopes’ – Tasmania Riesling
  5. Mount Pleasant Elisabeth – Hunter Valley Semillon
  6. Penfolds bin 8 – Cabernet Shiraz
  7. Penfolds Grange – No need to state anything 🙂

Interestingly all of the wines will go into building a new wine cellar, puzzlingly strange but true.  The rest of my wine cellar is either easily replaced or I don’t want to move them in case they get damaged from moving ‘back and forth’, plus if they survive it will make for an ‘epic drinking story’.

My wife joked last night on ‘Facebook’ with our friends:

Meliss facebook 2

…  AND just to pack more danger into the day I’m expecting a wine delivery TODAY from a recent wine auction… what I am going to tell the wife?  Oops, I did it again, sorry…  I best go hide the rolling-pin, again!

As I write this post I am trying to make light of the situation for my own sanity, so I hope I do not offend.  I know people who have already lost their homes and I fear many more will too…  for me as important as wine or other material items can be, if you have the opportunity to leave early, please please do.  

Please ‘stay safe’… 

me on deck


  1. I’m in the Southern Tablelands – a fair distance but we were getting plenty of smoke from your fires a couple of days ago (low and thick, you could taste it as well as see it).

    For two nights, yesterday and some of today we’ve had storms and rain. I was hoping the rain would be widespread and that would be an end to the fires. As I type it’s clouding over again and I expect another storm.

    Is there any hint of the weather coming to your rescue where you are?

    Sorry, I can’t help you with your wine choices. Maybe the most expensive or the rarest.

    Good luck, mate, seriously. I trust all will be well.


  2. Gosh – that’s pretty serious – start drinking is my advice – and when that fails we’ve a spare bedroom here in NZ you can use.


  3. Hope all goes well down there guys, never tried steamed Tasmanian Reisling, maybe it will start a new trend 🙂 But seriously, be careful, can’t do to have the Wine Wankers short a crew member, I’ve become used to the stories and camaraderie. I’m up on the mid north coast and we’ve had three a couple of weeks ago but they were able to stop them as it was cooler. Hope the supermen in the trucks can do the same for everyone down there. Take care. Namaste


  4. All the best, mate. My partner is an Aussie, and we are both watching the fires closely from across the ditch and are hoping the danger passes soon.


  5. You look after that sister of mine and my niece and nephews! Fingers crossed, we don’t want to lose another house in the family. By the way, I’d be having the Semillon as “the one for the road”… low alcohol, and the Grange once this crisis is over! (I’ll come up and help).


  6. I don’t feel that I can press “Like” on this post – it just seems wrong! The footage of the fires looks absolutely horrendous. I do hope that your house survives unscathed.


  7. My sister and brother in law live in Mt Riverview too – he has a large wine cellar – but I didn’t ask and he never said anything about the wine – but maybe the covered trailer held clues – you should all get together when this disaster is over – good luck and save the wine!


  8. Sending luck from QLD. Love the Blue Mountains and its devastating what is happening. Stay safe and when you evacuate tie a bottle around the dogs neck, and make sure the kids carry one under each arm. 🙂


  9. Your “bushfire” is making the news world wide. Denis Leary (very pro fire dept) posted a pic on his Twitter of exhausted Aussie Firemen on the side of the road … and that you had a little bit of rain made the news here (Toronto) as well. Thoughts with you and your extended families … and of course… the wine cellar. 🙂


  10. I enjoy you making light of the situation. Is “touch wood” the same as our “knock on wood?” I live in a high fire area too – Colorado. Stay safe.


  11. Everything with legs can run, save the bottles! 😛
    What if you bury stuff deep? it may melt but would have better chances than catching on fire.
    I guess the smoke is awful right now.
    Good Luck.


  12. Thinking about you and hoping you and family (and dog!) stay safe first of all. But if there’s time, I vote for the Riesling because there are already enough endangered species in Tasmania.


  13. I wish for safety for all the families going through this and any disaster. Life is shockingly fragile. Geologists are awaiting tsunamis and earthquakes in our stupid earthquake-zone region (Vancouver, Canada).
    Funny post nonetheless!
    Zelda from The Illustrated Wine


  14. Leave the wine. I assume you have an endorsement for your Homeowners to cover your collection. House and wine collection can be rebuilt, however painfully, you can’t be rebuilt so easily. I doubt your policy covers your collection to any significant degree, although I haven’t read your policy.

    I realize this blog post is more for fun, but the insurance adjuster in me wants that clear.

    Carry on.

    Save your favorites of course.


  15. Kate and Elena sent me this link. Have been through this a few times and now have a couple of cases packed ready to pick up and go. In 2001 and now I stayed to fight the fires while the girls left with photos etc, but parked my car in a shady spot up the road with my best wine. We all have our priorities! Cheers Steve Etheridge


    • It looks like a long summer ahead, but with all the back burning we should be fine. Drove past your place and they came right up to the houses with the back burn… I will go down into Cripple Creek at the weekend. I run it to Singles Ridge road weekly, so next week will be interesting to see the fire damage… I will pop round soon for bushfire wine cellar protect advice!


  16. Stu, can you hurry up and put out those fires!! It stinks of smoke here in the city and it ruins the ambience of sitting at an outdoor café sipping your coffee. (I couldn’t believe it, heard a girl saying something along those lines to her friend when I got off the train, in all seriousness too)


  17. my prayers for you and your fam! Love your wife’s sense of humor–good woman, the Mrs 🙂 Will join the commenters above for your safety and the safety of everything that is near and dear to you. Thank you for sharing your story.


  18. I hope all is well at this point and your family is safe. This post has thrown me in a bit if a panic. Which wines would I save? Would my husband want his scotch collection instead? Serious questions.


  19. The family is the most important thing, as much as we like our wine. I pray for the best results for you and your family, as it is a scary thought. I can appreciate your wife’s humor though, as I always joke, one good weekend in the cellar. All the best to you and yours.


  20. The photos I’ve seen of smoke-filled skies over Sydney are incredible and it’s almost impossible to fathom how widespread the fires are. I hope you, your family, friends, and beloved wine cellar are spared.


  21. It sounds like your plan is thought through and you have the right mindset. Though not something I have to worry about in my neck of the woods it make me think. The next cellar I build will be built with extra support above and some added fireproofing. Almost make me think that and old school root cellar is not a bad idea.

    Best of Luck to you and yours. Here’s to hoping you don’t need to use the plan.


  22. Scary indeed …. best of luck with the wine cellar … Oh … and of course the house! Great Tweet from you wife. Be strong!


  23. Do stay safe, and not that I would ever encourage leaving wine behind, remember that the next amazing wine may be just a vintage away. All the best to you and your family. Our prayers are with you.


  24. The Tatachilla at no.2? HAVE YOU GONE MAD? Did the smoke go to your head? It should be no.1!! I hope the fires never reached you or that you came to your senses beforehand. P.S I love that your wife is in no.1 position, as she should be. 2. I do hope you are your family is safe. 3. Having a sense of humour during these times is critical, you did good.


  25. Thinking of you and your family during this crazy time…I can’t imagine what that must feel like, not knowing if your home is going to survive and having to leave it on short notice like that! Good that you’re packing your humor as one essential item not to leave behind.


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