AMBERLEY Estate’s managing director and chief winemaker Eddie Price expects to quit the Margaret River operation at the end of the month when a deal to sell to Palandri is hoped to be completed.After 12 years at the helm of the wine making operations, and seven as head of the company, Mr Price said he was leaving his options open regarding the future.“I don’t think I will be here at the end of the month,” he said.“My employment contract runs out then. At this stage I don’t believe I will be looking to extend it.”Palandri parent Margaret River Wine Production has spent the past two months negotiating and conducting due diligence with the partnership behind Am-berley, led by accountant Mark Turner.Market speculation has put the price tag at around $25 million.Palandri has stated it will leave Amberley as a separate operation from its own Bussell Highway production plant but it would merge the operations of newly purchased Rosabrook into Amberley.A Palandri spokesman said the company hoped the Amberley deal would be fully funded by investors from the UK, though an element of debt may be used.The spokesman said the company’s $80 million fund raising was past its minimum requirements but confirmed the market for tax-effective investments was very tough this year.Mr Price joined Amberley in 1989, coming from a senior winemaker’s role at 11,000 tonne winery Brown Brothers in Victoria to the small Margaret River boutique with a crush of just 147.5 tonnes.In that time, Amberley has grown to be one of the most popular brands in WA, crushing 1500 tonnes of grapes for its own labels.Mr Price said a steady growth phase had helped the company capitalise on opportunities as a Margaret River producer without over-extending it financially.He said he did not have any vineyards of his own at this stage.“There are plenty of opportunities out there. I certainly have not made any commitments at this stage.“I enjoy WA and Margaret River but this is a great opportunity to look at other options.”
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