Jancis Robinson, one of the world's best-known wine writers, has pledged her support against the construction of a shopping mall on prime vineyard land in South Australia's McLaren Vale.
Joining the campaign to fight a proposal to build a retail and housing development at Seaford Heights, McLaren Vale, Robinson wrote an open letter to South Australia’s Minister for Planning, Paul Holloway.
In it she called for the development to be disallowed and to ‘establish a set of effective preservation regulations such as have been so effective in wine regions such as the Napa Valley.’
Dudley Brown, chairman for McLaren Vale Grape Wine Tourism called the development ‘a dirty great strip mall on some of the best vineyard land and the tourist gateway from Adelaide to the region.’
Robinson wrote, ‘As a wine writer with an international reputation and as a longstanding lover and champion of fine South Australian wine, I would urge you not to allow any more residential and commercial encroachment on the historic and valuable wine region that is McLaren Vale – particularly in view of the unique geology that has been discovered on this site.’
There are currently no vineyards planted on the proposed site but a geological study has shown the government-owned land has some of the most suitable soils for viticulture in the whole region – a combination of 650 million-year-old sandstone and silt.
A spokesman for the Minister of Urban Development and Planning department defended the plans, saying, ‘Seaford Heights is not used for wine production and it is no secret that this land has been set aside and zoned for housing for the past 20 years.
‘Minister Holloway has given repeated assurances that any proposed changes to the development plan for Seaford Heights will…take into account reasonable concerns about the nature of the gateway to the McLaren Vale winegrowing district,’ he added.
Australia is currently in a period of oversupply and it is estimated 20% of the vine plantings need to be pulled out.
In response to the claim that more vineyards were the last thing Australia needed in 2010, Brown said: ‘We are taking a 50-100 year view here. Gluts come and go.’
www.mclarenvale.info, or write to Paul Holloway, Minister for Planning on firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Rebecca Gibb