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Hotham boosts its stable

WA WINE maker Hotham Wines Limited plans to raise up to $10 million, to fund its growth and provide capital for the acquisitions made over the past 12 months.

The company has entered into two agreements to purchase two Margaret River wineries.

The first is Alexandra Bridge Estate vineyard located in Karridale south of Margaret River.

Hotham Wines Limited will also secure the Alexandra Bridge Estate label as part of the acquisition.

The second transaction involves the purchase of 100 per cent of Karridale Wines Pty Ltd, initially established as a joint venture between Alexandra Bridge Estate and Hamelin Bay Wines.

The Alexandra Bridge Estate includes 80 acres of four and five year old vines on a 200-acre property.

The Karridale Wines includes a winery and cellar door facility completed in this year and capable of crushing 1,000 tonnes of grapes.

Hotham Wines managing director Evan Cross said the winery acquisition provided the company with state of the art process.

Late last year the company purchased Bridgeland Vineyards in Margaret River for $5.4 million, followed by the $3.5 million purchase of the Wildwood Winery and restaurant at Yallingup earlier this year.

Mr Cross said unlike a number of tax-based vineyard prospectuses issued recently, the $10 million raising by Hotham Wines would be utilised to fund ongoing development of the company’s vineyard assets, winemaking and developing labels.

He said Hotham Wines had spent close to $20 million establishing a presence in the Margaret River region over the last 18 months and had made the transition from a boutique winemaker to become a major industry player.

Following the acquisitions the company will own 142 hectares of vines ranging from 19 years old to two-year-old plantings.

At full capacity the company will have ownership and full control over 1,400 tonnes of premium fruit, the equivalent of 100,000 cases of wine.

Paterson Ord Minnett Equity Capital Markets Aaron Constantine said the Hotham Wines story was very different to other tax-based vineyard investments of recent months.

He said there was clearly room for another listed Margaret River producer following the successful listing of Evans & Tate earlier in the year.

Originally established as a boutique operation in Wandering in 1987, Hotham started commercial production in 1993.

In early 1999 the company established a presence in Margaret River with the purchase of a 33-hectare site followed by the purchase of the adjoining Bridgeland property in October – adding a further 207 hectares of land and 98 hectares of vines.

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