Land that one produced award-winning wine is now at risk of starting a grass fire after the vineyard was left to rot for five years.
The Old Orchard Winery operated for nine years in Melbourne‘s eastern outskirts under the hands of David and Pat Smith before the couple’s lease from the council expired in 2015.
Now abandoned, the grounds in Boronia have become overgrown with grass reaching a more than metre high between the unkempt vines.
The Old Orchard Winery (pictured) operated for 34 years in Melbourne’s eastern outskirts before the site was abandoned when the vineyard’s managers’ lease expired
Local Cathy Smith is concerned the five-acre site has become a fire hazard.
‘Last year this time the vines were beautiful, fantastically cared for, I know because I went for walks there,’ she told the Herald Sun.
‘There is no excuse for letting them get in this state, even during Covid they could have got in a contractor to clean it up — after all I am pretty sure council would have raised merry hell if people did not mow their nature strips for a solid year.
The site has five varieties of vines – Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz (pictured) and Cabernet Franc and has won awards for its wines
‘It is now so bad I literally have no idea how they are going to clean it up.’
The vineyard was planted in 1981 as a work-for-the-dole scheme sponsored by Knox City Council with vines donated from South Australia.
The Smiths answered the council’s request for expression of interest in 2005 and took over management, but have since relocated the business 89km north to Yea.
The lot, which is part of the Lewis park precinct, has five varieties of vines – Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Franc – all left wasting away.
Knox Council infrastructure director Grant Thorne said the vineyard would be redeveloped under a new master plan for Lewis Park, which will see community garden plots increased and picnic shelters installed.
Mr Thorne said maintenance of the land was delayed due to wet weather last year and is scheduled to be cleared in February.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Knox Council for comment.
The grounds (pictured) have now become overgrown, sparking fears the site could pose a grass fire risk
Source: Daily Mail Australia | World News