Prominent Australian wine maker is “sceptical of climate change”?

Voyager Estate: say it isn't so?

Last week we received word of the the local denial movements “counter offensive” was starting to gear up. The Institute of Public Affairs distributed an information package to Australian Member’s of Parliament.

We are still trying to determine who, and how many were distributed but on the surface it would appear to be a mass mail out.

Watching the Deniers has received both of copy of “Climate Change: the Facts” and the ancillary materials that accompanied it. Analysis will be forthcoming over future posts. However, something immediately caught me eye.

The inside cover of the book contains one of those “petitions” so beloved by the deniers:

“Over 400 individuals and organisations have supported the publications of Climate Change: The Facts because they want want an honest debate about the facts of climate change…”

It then goes on to list several individual several individuals and organisations. Included in this list is “Voyager Estate P/L”, the well known winery and producer of some of Western Australia’s best wines.

I’ve been to Voyager Estate, have eaten in their magnificent restaurant and currently have several bottles in my personal cellar. I knew the family had connections to mining in Western Australia (WA), but I will be frank. I am shocked to think that there is a link between Voyager Estate and the denial movement.

Here is the background on both the estate and it’s owners from the Voyager Estate website:

Voyager Estate owner, Michael Wright, is a farmer from the world of commerce. His ancestors arrived from Scotland in 1854, settling in Maldon, Victoria, before moving to Western Australia prior to Federation in 1901. With a rich tradition of farming and agriculture in their veins, he is a third generation member of a family business that started with his grandfather in 1900.

Michael’s father, Peter Wright, played a major role in the discovery and promotion of WA’s substantial iron ore industry and was, along with Lang Hancock, a founding member of the Hancock & Wright group. As a result, the family was best known for its mining involvement, however, it also continued its agricultural interests as well as other diverse enterprises including coal & oil, transport, publishing and printing to name a few…

Some more background on Michael Wright:

With such a diverse background, Michael pursued several avenues of business and agriculture before setting his sights on owning a vineyard and winery. On the lookout for the right property, he was delighted when, in 1991, he was given the opportunity to purchase Freycinet Estate, started by viticulturist Peter Gherardi in 1978. It was blessed with just the right soils; red/brown gravelly loam that Michael knew would bear intense, rich-flavoured fruit and deliver stunning wine.

It will also seem Michael Wright is very patriotic:

“Michael had one other requirement for Voyager Estate – an Australian flag on show. But not just any size flag. Voyager Estate has what is believed to be the third largest flagpole in Australia. It was the second tallest, until Parliament House in Canberra disliked the idea of being upstaged by an upstart from the West and extended theirs. They are now second only to the Roundhouse in Fremantle. Michael has, of course, risen above such petty power struggles and is simply proud to share his patriotism with visitors to Voyager Estate…”

Mining interests. A very overt form of patriotism. I think we can draw the appropriate conclusions, and understand why Voyager Estate’s owners would align themselves with a free-market think tank that is highly sceptical of climate change and behind this recent counter offensive.

I emailed Voyager Estate the following:


Dear Sir/Madam,

I was recently forwarded a copy of text from the Institute of Public Affairs titled ” Climate Change: the Facts”. The books insert listed a number of individuals and organisations who want an “honest debate” about the facts around the science of climate change.

I’d note that “Voyage Estate P/L” is listed prominently in this insert.

Can I confirm the following:

  • That organisation listed in the IPA publication is your organisation
  • Is this the “official” position of your organisation on climate change
  • Does Voyager Estate have a view on the science, or is this the position of particular individuals associated with Voyager Estate
  • Does your organisation call for a “honest debate” on climate science

Answer forthcoming one would hope.

They should be given the opportunity to respond, and if I am mistaken I will happily correct the story.

6 thoughts on “Prominent Australian wine maker is “sceptical of climate change”?

  1. davidpj says:

    Nice catch. I’ll be interested to see what ‘facts’ are presented: I have a feeling that it will be a pile of recycled, debunked arguments in a slightly glossier way than usual.

    Remind me not to invest in Voyager (well, pending confirmation on this, or silence which would be equally damning)!

  2. John Grant says:

    Do keep us posted on this so we’ll all know whether or not to stop buying their products.

    You’d think a winery would have more sense, wouldn’t you? Among the first things to get wiped out as the climate grows more extreme will almost certainly be . . . vineyards.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      My exact thoughts mate – if you look at the changing rainfall patterns over the last 50 years, Voyager is at risk!

      • manuelg says:

        At some point we should be able to compile a list of those who:

        1) were active deniers

        2) later took government funds to aid those hurt by climate disruption

        If the winery answers in the affirmative, it would be nice to have them go on record that they will swear off any government funds in the future for aiding those hurt by climate disruption.

  3. Ben says:

    Maybe Global Warming is good for grape production…

  4. […] about climate change denial: “Why do you ask?” 20 04 2010 As per my post (Prominent Australian wine maker is “sceptical of climate change), I have been […]

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