Gilbert Wines conduct a fiery ritual for bountiful vintage at their annual Burning of the Canes event

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
The vine goddess being sacrificed.
Camera IconThe vine goddess being sacrificed. Credit: Supplied

The vision of flames engulfing a woman’s figure may look eerie but it has an important role to play in a successful vintage for one local winery.

The canes from the vineyard’s vines are made into a vine goddess who is sacrificed at the annual Burning of the Canes.

The ritual takes place each year at Kendenup’s Gilbert Wines winery to call for a prosperous year ahead. The event is coming up on September 27 and each year, the winery asks the community to join in the tradition, watching the flames of a bonfire engulf the goddess.

Manager Clinton Gilbert said the inspiration came from research on events held across the world and old rituals dating back hundreds of years.

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“The event is to signify the changing of seasons, from the fading winter chills and dormancy of the vines, to spring and budburst in the vineyard,” he said.

“A sacrifice we must make each and every year.

“We weave cuttings into the vine goddess and around her, then cover the goddess with cuttings.

“It is quite the experience when the fire burns through and she becomes visible.

“Each guest gets a cutting from the vineyard to throw in or keep.”

The ritual has taken place since 2004 at the family-owned winery.

The goddess is a human-size sculpture made by local sculptor Kevin Draper.

The night turns into a celebration with live music, a feast of food, and award-winning wines.

Mr Gilbert said the winery had just finished pruning season and tourism had been going well since COVID-19 restrictions eased.

“Right now in the vineyard we are starting to see budburst in our chardonnay vines,” he said. “The whole vineyard in a month’s time will be alive with growth and activity as the vines prepare themselves for their 2021 crop.

“It has been a busy time, though, in the Great Southern, with loads of visitors to the region compared to normal.

“Lots of wine being consumed and visitors experiencing the Great Southern’s fantastic wines and amazing scenery.”

For tickets, visit gilbertwines. com.au.

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