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Australian Eco-Vineyard Fights New Brewery

Australia, Eco-Travel, Travel News — By David Chalk on May 17, 2010 at 7:06 am
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Cullen Wines of Margaret River, Western Australia is run by Vanya Cullen, daughter of the founder and a pioneer of environmental awareness and biodynamic viticulture in Australia.  Cullen Wines is fighting a proposed new brewery just north of their vineyards because of concerns that yeast cells from the brewery will contaminate the wild yeasts in the Cullen vineyards.  According to a pdf petition Cullen Wines is circulating online, the contamination of wild yeasts “is likely to have negative effects on the quality of [the company's] wines … [and the] risks have been supported by a report from the Australian Wine Research Institute.”

An attempt at mediation between the brewery developers and the vineyard was unsuccessful, and the issue will now likely be decided by local or state government bodies.  The Busselton Shire Council originally sided with the vineyard, but could reverse their decision sometime in June.  The issue will also go before a state administrative tribunal in August.

In an email to Jancis Robinson, Vanya Cullen offers her version of where things stand:

The developer will not accept circumstantial evidence and keeps saying there is no proof. It is crazy and doesn’t make sense what he is proposing. The problem is they don’t understand wine. We are able to help the council find an expert witness which is good. So we can only work hard and have faith.

The Cullen Wines petition says that the issue of yeast contamination has not arisen in the past because most wineries use manufactured yeasts instead of natural wild yeasts.  Manufactured yeasts have substantially fewer risks and problems, but Cullen Wines believes natural wild yeast ferments and biodynamic farming and winemaking make their wines higher quality with more individuality and complexity.  Cullen Wines also argue that in the future more Australian wineries will follow their lead in using natural yeast and will need similar government protection.

[Image: Agritourism Australia]

Tags: Australia, Australian, Australian vineyards, Australian wine, biodynamic, breweries, brewery, Busselton Shire, Cullen Wines, eco vineyards, eco wine, environment, Margaret River, vineyards, Wine, winemaking

    5 Comments

  • Sami says:

    They don’t understand wine?

    Murray Burton, director of the propsed micro brewery owns Killerby Winery and is the founder of very sucsessful winery Ferngrove!

    The brewery will not be using Brettanomyces yeast in the brewery process and wil not be botteling on site.
    The brewery will also use a special treatment unit to ensure the yeast is killed before reaching the atmosphere.

    Get your facts right Vanya. The brewery will be going ahead.

  • Philip White says:

    This Sami, who cannot spell, and obviously knows little about yeast, has the same old bully boy approach as all supporters of ambitious but ill-directed developers. Why doesn’t this person give its full name? As a human with a name I am proud of, I have tasted thousands of wines from Margaret River during my thirty-something years in the job of wine criticism, and must say that I cannot quite recall drinking any wine from the Killerby or Ferngrove brands which would indicate any gastronomic intelligence that comes within a mile of the impeccable wines Vanya makes. Give us a break, Sami. Are you an Australian?

  • Habib G. says:

    I always find it interesting that bloggers can turn sensible debate, in this case the science behind the behaviour of yeast, and manage to somehow construe/imply its relationship to race. Philip perhaps you could clarify your comments..’Are you an Australian?’

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