Vineyards no place for big Moa brewery - winery

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Cloudy Bay winery is opposing plans by Moa Beer to expand its Marlborough brewery.
Cloudy Bay winery is opposing plans by Moa Beer to expand its Marlborough brewery.

A Marlborough wine maker is opposing Moa Beer's expansion plans because it believes an industrial-scale brewery has no place in such a world famous wine-growing region.

NZX-listed Moa was granted resource consent last month to carry out a $6.1 million expansion of its Blenheim brewery. Moa wants to boost production from 1 million litres to 12 million litres of beer and cider a year.

Cloudy Bay, which is owned by French champagne house Veuve Clicquot, is one of three parties appealing the decision to grant resource consent.

Ian Morden, Cloudy Bay's estate director, said it was inappropriate for an industrial-scale brewery to be established "in a unique rural environment that is internationally renowned for its wine-growing".

Nearly 80 per cent of New Zealand's wine exports came from the Marlborough region, Morden said.

"Buyers of wines associate the product with the environment it comes from - a world famous wine-growing region."

Moa Beer's chief executive Geoff Ross yesterday hit out at Cloudy Bay for making an appeal.

"It seems they think Marlborough should be exclusively positioned as a wine region and that beer undermines that," he said.

"It reeks of French wine snobbery. I don't have problem with foreign ownership but I do with foreign control."

Ross said it was not appropriate for a French company to "dictate what's good for the Marlborough region".

Morden said other industrial-scale beer operations in New Zealand were in industrial zones.

He said Moa should set up its brewing facilities at a site already well-suited to industrial activity, while maintaining its boutique operation on Jacksons Road, near Blenheim.

"A key advantage of an industrial park is the ability to continue to scale operations up if future growth exceeds expectations," Morden said.

The other parties opposing the brewery's expansion are locals Philip Rose and Samuel Rose, and Simon Matthews.

Concerns about the enlarged brewery centre around an increase in traffic, visual disturbance, waste water, noise, spray drift and odour.

There has also been concern about the amount of extra water the brewery would use.

Of 14 submissions made on Moa's proposal, one was neutral, nine were in opposition and four were in support.

In releasing his decision last month, Marlborough District Council planning commissioner John Maassen addressed concerns by imposing a range of conditions for Moa to adhere to.

The three parties have lodged their appeals with the Environment Court, which is yet to set a hearing date.

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