GREG'S LEGACY

Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Whitlands High Plateaux region, an ego trip?

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The vineyards are the economic lifeblood of the King Valley community. Yet, there appears to be no economic benefit in separation for anyone – including the four Whitlands growers. … see Border mail article below


Grape region row in court
BY BRAD WORRALL – Border Mail – 1 May 2006

A BITTER dispute among grape growers in the King Valley has been playing out in front of a federal judge.

Four grape growers near Whitlands want to secede from the King Valley winery district, which includes about 75 vignerons.

Their proposal seeks to include another seven grape growers and three vineyards under the Whitlands High Plateaux region umbrella.

The Border Mail understands some of the grape growers and wineries oppose plans to create this separate region.

At present the King Valley region encompasses the watershed of the King River.

The King River joins the Ovens River at Wangaratta and the King Valley runs south through the Oxley Plains for 25km to Moyhu before entering a number of narrow valleys in the foothills of the alps.

At its northern end is Milawa, which is at the lowest point of 155m.

At the southern end is the Whitlands plateau, at 800m, one of the highest wine grape-growing areas in Australia.

Rainfall at Milawa is about half the 630mm annual total at Whitlands.

It took more than eight years for the region to be declared last September and the matter is now being challenged in the Australian Appeals Tribunal.

A source, who did not want to be named, said it would be a mistake to have different regions existing within the one valley.

“Some wineries will end up with grapes from two different regions, literally kilometres apart,” the source said.

“We need to keep the King Valley together in its entirety.

“This decision will be very important for the future of the valley.”

The matter is being heard by Federal Court judge Garry Downes and is expected to be completed by the end of this week.

A ruling is not expected to be made until next month.

… original article here

Watchdog Comment
This dispute appears to be a threat to the future viability of the King Valley wine region. The four grapegrowers involved in this action should remember the transition of the King Valley region from a tobacco growing district to recognition as a grape growing region.

The region was developed by large organisations, such as Brown Brothers, contracting the farmers to grow grapes when the tobacco industry stalled. None of the Whitlands group of growers would have been established in the first place without this input of the larger winery companies.

Separating the district into the highlands and the lowlands regions will create an “us and them” mentality that will extend beyond the wine industry into the local community as well – and God knows, we need none of that.

The vineyards are the economic lifeblood of the King Valley community. Yet, there appears to be no economic benefit in separation for anyone – including the four Whitlands growers.

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Written by Greg Naylor

1 May 2006 at 8:10 am

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