Houses or vines? Opponents believe subdividing this
Earnscleugh paddock will reduce its value as a prime
viticulture block. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Two Masters of Wine have thrown their weight behind
opposition to subdividing an Earnscleugh property described as
premium wine-producing land.
Johnny and Pam Chapman have applied to subdivide their
Earnscleugh Rd ''Como Villa'' property into lots of 1.88ha,
0.76ha and 1.16ha. The first lot would contain the existing
dwelling, established vineyard and the Como Villa historical
building, cellar door venue and associated buildings.
Building platforms would be identified on each of the
remaining two bare-land blocks. The Central Otago District
Council's hearing panel will consider the application next
Tuesday. Three submissions were received, including one from
neighbouring vineyard Grasshopper Rock, and all opposed the
''The subject property is in the midst of what is becoming
internationally acclaimed vineyard land,'' Grasshopper Rock
managing director Phil Handford said, Two Masters of Wine,
Bob Campbell, of Auckland, and Tim Atkin, of England, support
Grasshopper Rock's submission and objected to the use of the
Earnscleugh land for building sites rather than for a
''The potential loss of 2ha of outstanding vineyard land
represents a serious and irreplaceable loss to Alexandra as
it does indeed to New Zealand wine,'' Mr Campbell said. Pinot
noir, particularly Central Otago pinot noir, was lifting this
country's international wine profile, he said.
Mr Atkin said Grasshopper Rock made one of the best examples
of Central Otago pinot noir and anything that might
compromise its outstanding quality ''should be resisted by
urban planners and wine lovers alike''.
Mr Handford said the productive capacity of the land should
be maintained and the subdivision would have a negative
effect on the open space, landscape, natural character and
amenity values of the area. Grasshopper Rock was originally
part of the Como Villa property.
Few people appreciated how significant the Central Otago wine
industry was to the local economy.
The area of Earnscleugh Rd between Chapman Rd and Conroys Rd
had unique geography and climate that were ''high value'' for
producing premium pinot noir, he said. The two other opposing
submissions, from G. Finn and K. Duncan,
of Cromwell, and Marian Weaver, of Dunedin, were concerned
about the fragmentation of a rural holding and the increased
''domestication'' of the rural resource area and said the
subdivision was contrary to the district plan. In their
application, the Chapmans said they wanted to focus on their
cellar door business and develop the potential of the
The balance of the land was surplus to their needs. All of
the neighbouring property owners, except for Grasshopper
Rock, had approved the plans. The area was already a
well-established ''lifestyle block'' area.
Council planning consultant David Whitney said vineyards were
established to the south and west of the site and the
proposed subdivision would have an adverse effect on the
productive use of the land.
He recommended the council refuse consent because the adverse
effects on the environment would be significant and granting
consent would be contrary to the objectives and policies of
the district plan.