Sunday, August 24, 2008

Winery wins fight to stop trees

A South-West winery has won a two-year battle to stop a blue gum plantation being grown next to its vineyard, with Great Southern Plantations dropping the plan amid wrangling over whether the trees’ oily mist would contaminate grapes.

The company walked away from its proposal after owners of the property it was leasing asked the company to end its project so they could “live in harmony with their neighbours”.

It ends the sometimes heated dispute between Great Southern and Yanmah Ridge winery over whether the trees’ oily mist, which famously gives the Blue Mountains its blue tinge, would settle on its grapes and contaminate its red wine.

Manjimup Shire Council twice rejected the plans, a first for the heavily wooded region, after growing evidence showed that “wine taint” could occur but buffer zones to solve the issue could not be agreed upon.

An appeal was due to be heard before the State Administrative Tribunal this month.

Part-owner and Yanmah Ridge winemaker Peter Nicholas said he was relieved but disappointed that the matter was not settled in the appeals tribunal.

“It’s disappointing because it leaves other vineyards hanging,” he said yesterday.

“I think the proof is incontrovertible because the Australian Wine Research Institute has put forward compelling evidence that blue gums do contaminate wines. We would have won.”

Great Southern refused to concede the debate.

“It is important to point out that we have not withdrawn the appeal because we consider that reasons behind the neighbour’s objections have been proved,” a spokesman said. It did not believe there was conclusive proof eucalypts could ‘taint’ grapes on adjoining properties.