How to #goforbroke to help Hunter Region wineries devastated by floods

Lisa and Andrew Margan were able to open their cellar door at the weekend.
Lisa and Andrew Margan were able to open their cellar door at the weekend.  Photo: Supplied

The small community of Broke is urging people to visit its wineries over the coming weeks in a #goforbroke campaign to restore the local economy after devastating floods.

When more than 226 millilitres of heavy rain flooded the town in New South Wales' Hunter Region in early July it was an "enormous trauma" to its 290 residents, says local winemaker Andrew Margan.

"It was the worst flood in the history of Broke," Margan says.

Margan Wines was completely inundated by floodwater, but Andrew Margan believes the vineyard should continue producing ...
Margan Wines was completely inundated by floodwater, but Andrew Margan believes the vineyard should continue producing once the land dries out.  Photo: Supplied

"When the Wollombi Brook broke its banks it flowed through the whole valley. It completely inundated the village and destroyed around 50 houses.

"I've lost vineyards, winemaking infrastructure and some livestock as well."

A mammoth community effort, which saw "more than 75 per cent" of the clean up tasks completed within 10 days, enabled the surrounding cellar doors to finally reopen at the weekend.

More than 50 homes were severely affected by historic floods in the town.
More than 50 homes were severely affected by historic floods in the town. Photo: Supplied

"Everyone has done an amazing job," Margan says. "There's still a long way to go, but by [last] Monday we had all of our restaurant staff on board and the power back on."

While the village of Broke remains closed, surrounding cellar doors and restaurants are open to visitors.

There has never been a better time to try Hunter Region wines, as each cellar door visit directly supports affected residents.

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"I can't tell you how many people have reached out to ask what they can do to help. They recognise the devastating impact something like this can have," Margan says. "But the only way [residents] can stay employed is if we're open for business."

At Margan Wines & Restaurant they'll be pouring their full range of wines, including the recently released 2019 Shiraz and the 2021 White Label Chardonnay.

And there's good news, too, for the vintages to come. As the grape vines were asleep during the height of the floods, Margan expects them to continue producing "once it all dries out".

If you're unable to visit the cellar doors in person, there are other ways to help. Physical items and financial support can be donated through givit.org or gofundme, with all proceeds to go directly to flood affected families.