Australian wineries are internationally renowned for great drops but in recent times, they’ve developed an unfortunate reputation for something else — becoming ‘super-spreader’ venues for COVID-19.

In South Australia a number of wineries have sparked clusters of cases, including in the Barossa Valley last year and two wineries in the current outbreak.

Vineyards in different regions across the country have been listed as exposure sites since the outbreak began.

Are wineries more prone to be home to a super-spreader event?

Are wineries new ‘danger zones’ for transmission?

Nine cases have so far been linked to the Tenafeate Creek Winery in Adelaide’s north as the Modbury cluster continues to grow.

South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer this week described it as “definitely a super-spreader event”.

Tenafeate Creek Winery owner Larry Costa told ABC Radio Adelaide that he was devastated at being caught up in the outbreak.

Gravel driveway leading to vineyards and large, bare tree

Tenafeate Creek Winery staff and patrons have been ordered into quarantine after a COVID-19 outbreak was linked to the venue.(

Supplied: Tenafeate Creek Winery Facebook page


Deakin University’s Chair in Epidemiology Catherine Bennett said the risk of transmission had increased everywhere because of the Delta variant, but wineries now faced extra challenges.

“Things that were safe before now have been tipped over the edge and they’re no longer safe,” Professor Bennett said.

A head and shoulders shot of a smiling woman wearing spectacles posing for a photo.

Professor Catherine Bennett is chair in epidemiology at Deakin University’s School of Health and Social Development.(

Supplied: Catherine Bennett


“We’ve seen it at the football in Melbourne and I think it’s the same with vineyards.”

She said the latest research showed that just stepping into a space where a positive case had been was enough to catch the virus, and that made managing wineries increasingly difficult.

Professor Bennett said there was little evidence that a shared tapas plate or bottle of wine had led to more exposure or transmission, and moving in shared spaces remained the biggest issue.

Two women cheers with wine bottles underneath palm trees.

Wineries have become common venues for super-spreading events during the pandemic.(

Unsplash: KAL Visuals


Catching the virus at a winery is one thing, but chasing the chains of transmission after it spreads is another.

The challenge of tracing a winery outbreak

Contact tracers could be forgiven for enjoying a glass of wine at the end of any long day during the pandemic, but even more so if they’re chasing the chains of transmission stemming from a winery outbreak.

Managing Director of Seppeltsfield Winery Steven Trigg said it was a “hectic day” when SA Health realised an infected staff member had unwittingly attended the site.

“The staff member who went to [Tenafeate Winery] on Sunday, unfortunately for her, also arrived at work on Monday and hosted a group of 20 to 21 people,” Mr Trigg told ABC Radio Adelaide’s Ali Clarke.

Contact tracers are continuing to work to ensure anyone who needs to be is in quarantine after the potential exposure.

Signage for a winery in front of palm trees

Seppeltsfield Winery in South Australia’s Barossa Valley is the latest to be listed as an exposure site.(

ABC News: Olivia Mason


Professor Bennett said given the Delta variant had a shorter incubation period after exposure, speedy contact tracing was critical.

“If people are transiting, on holiday, or it’s not quite clear how to contact them, or they’re not picking up their mobile, you lose a day and that makes a big difference in terms of managing the risk of that person being a case and potentially passing the virus on.

“It can just delay that contact tracing a little bit more and means that if there has been exposure sites they could be spread across the state or across state borders, if they’re open.”

So, can we expect wine tours after lockdown?

Once lockdowns across Australia lift, there’s no doubt people will be itching to hit the road and enjoy the finer things in life once again.

Professor Bennett said there were little things that could be done to provide extra protection to patrons enjoying a glass of wine in the future.

A statue wearing a face mask standing next to a statue of a pig

A statue wearing a face mask socially distancing from a pig along the Riesling Trail in the Clare Valley.(

ABC North and West: Shari Hams


“If you can put more space between tables, keep people further apart in distance and over times so that they’re not immediately walking into the space, or just increasing your airflow if you’re indoors — all of those things help,” she said.

“All of those little things might just make a big difference and make your life a lot less complicated in the weeks after.”

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Are wineries more susceptible to ‘super-spreader’ events for COVID-19?
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