By James Atkinson
Western Australian winemaker Murray Burton has finally opened his Margaret River microbrewery, Cheeky Monkey, having successfully overcome long-running opposition by a local biodynamic winemaker.
Cheeky Monkey Brewing Company opened to the public on Saturday, having won approval to serve its own range of craft beers and ciders on-premise at the Wilyabrup microbrewery, which has licensed capacity for 450 people.
In a final bid to halt the venture, local winemaker Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines was among several objectors to the brewery's liquor licence application.
She argued that the brewery was not in the public interest due to the risk of contamination by beer yeast to the indigenous yeast population at her biodynamic winery and other neighbouring properties in the Wilyabrup Valley.
But Director of Liquor Licensing Barry Sargeant said this ground of objection was not within the scope and subject of WA's Liquor Control Act.
He said that Cullen's concerns had already been overruled by the State Administrative Tribunal, which in October 2010 found it was "extremely unlikely that brewing yeast would escape and migrate to the vineyard".
Having won its liquor licence on April 26, Cheeky Monkey wasted no time in opening its doors to the public after it was officially launched by WA Minister for Agriculture and Food, Terry Redman on Friday.
Founder Murray Burton, who also started Ferngrove winery in Frankland River, told TheShout the brewer is serving an initial range of five craft beers and two ciders, as well as his own wines.
"There are now seven or eight microbreweries in the Margaret River wine region, so we're not alone," he said.
"What we are trying to do is focus more on the entertainment that's available for young to middle-aged people with children."
Burton said this demographic of visitors to Margaret River is not particularly interested in visiting wineries to taste and purchase wine to take it away.
"They're often interested in the nice surroundings – having a couple of drinks and watching the kids play on the playground," he said.
"We tailored the way we designed the building and everything around that particular age group – that's our focus."
Burton said Cheeky Monkey has approval for packaged liquor sales at the Wilyabrup site and ultimately hopes to expand distribution of its products elsewhere.