McLaren Vale is one of Australia’s most renowned wine regions. Clarendon Hills, d’Arenberg, Fox Creek, Noon Winery, Mitolo Wines, Hardys, Kay Brothers Amery Vineyards and Wirra Wirra are just few of the celebrated wineries to have cellar doors in McLaren Vale.

You may have seen in the press that influential wine critics James Halliday and Jancis Robinson have voiced their disapproval to a development proposal that would see the construction of  a shopping mall and large housing estate on prime vineyard land in the area. (Jancis Robinson joins fight against McLaren Vale development by Rebecca Gibb, 6 October 2010. Wine critic joins Seaford Heights fight by Sarah Garvis, Southern Times Messenger 28 September 2010)

Ironically, no vineyards are currently planted on the proposed 170 ha Seaford Heights development site even though a geological study has shown that the land has some of the most suitable soils for viticulture in the whole region – a combination of 650 million-year-old sandstone and silt.

The local government of the city of Onkaparinga has rejected the planning proposal, labelling the land as “rural” rather than “residential”, and handed it over to the South Australian Development and Planning Minister Paul Holloway, who will make a decision in mid-October as to whether or not the proposal is worth pursuing.

As McLaren Vale is only 45 minutes from the centre of Adelaide, it risks becoming a victim of urban sprawl. Like many other Australian capital cities, Adelaide is looking at ways to accommodate significant population growth. A report just released by the State’s Housing and Employment Land Supply Program advocates increasing Adelaide’s population by 560,000 people by 2040 and opening up new development areas to house them. (Major development timetable announced for Adelaide by Planning Minister Paul Holloway by Daniel Wills, Hannah Silverman, Adelaide Now 12 October 2010)

McLaren Vale Grape, Wine and Tourism Association is lobbying the South Australian Government to consider the ramifications of the Seaford Heights proposal on the future of the existing grape wine and food tourism economy of the McLaren Vale region. Chairman of the Association, Dudley Brown, believes that no “logical or physical attempt” was made “to integrate this new development into the existing grape wine and food tourism economy of the McLaren Vale region. It’s just more suburbs bumping right into vineyards.” (Urban Sprawl Affects McLaren Vale by Rupert Millar, The Drinks Business 7 October 2010)

If you’re interested in voicing your concern about the proposal, you can email Minister Holloway  A group called We Oppose Seaford Heights has set up a Facebook page.

Photo: McLaren Vale

Editor’s Note: One of my previous posts, Support Cullen’s Fight to Preserve Biodynamic Farming talked about Cullen’s fight to stop a microbrewery being built on land adjoining its famous vineyards. I can’t help it – I like supporting wineries and their good causes! Please don’t hesitate to let me know about other wine-related causes worth supporting!