'Finest' vineland under threat in Australia

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  • Friday 1 October 2010

Land hailed as Australia’s finest undeveloped vineyard site is under threat from developers.

McLaren Vale

Construction company Fairmont has submitted plans for at least 1,200 homes and a major retail park on a 77-hectare site in McLaren Vale, just south of Adelaide.

This development at the gateway to McLaren Vale would blight the area’s increasingly important wine tourism industry, according to the McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association.

The land adjoins the vineyards of Paxton, Chalk Hill and Pertaringa, and possesses a rare, 650m-year-old geology only found elsewhere in Australia in select parts of the Barossa and Clare Valleys, the association says.

‘Both these areas lack the maritime influence of this site, which leads us to believe it may be the finest undeveloped vineyard site of this size in a viticultural area in Australia,’ said association chairman Dudley Brown.

Brown said that none of the planning documents related to the development even mention the wine or tourism industries, despite its position as ‘the gateway to the McLaren Vale food and wine tourism region, the Fleurieu Peninsula or Kangaroo Island beyond’.

He added: ‘We are not hysterical or whinging Nimby (‘Not In My Back Yard’) protesters, but rather 500 growers, winemakers and tourism operators that generate nearly A$1bn a year for the economy of the region, and the region’s largest employment base.

‘We are looking forward 100 years and questioning the appropriateness and suitability of this type of development in this strategic location with this extraordinary geology, when we know that with 20-30 years of vine age, this site may become one of the world’s great terroirs.’

The decision on the plans has now been passed to State Planning Minister Paul Holloway, who is due to make an announcement imminently, Brown said.

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