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Palandri expanding

MARGARET River wine producer Palandri Wines has bought more land on the Bussell Highway, paying the brothers of executive director Rob Palandri $737,000 for a 29.3 hectare property.

The parcel of land is 600 metres north of the controversial Palandri Winery and Visitor Complex – but there was some confusion about how the property would be used.

The company announced that the property, near Cowaramup, had 1.25 hectares under vine with the potential to increase it to a total of 9.25 hectares under vine.

The remaining 20 hectares is deemed not suitable for viticulture and will be developed for a range of wine tourism and value-added activities in the future.

However Mr Palandri said the property had about 4.5 hectares under vine with the potential to plant a further 10 hectares, making about half of the property suitable for viticulture.

“I wasn’t aware that 20 hectares were unsuitable, but that’s neither here nor there,” Mr Palandri said.

The property was originally purchased in 1950 by the Palandri family and has been with the family ever since.

Mr Palandri said the purchase further consolidated Palandri Wines as a Margaret River wine producer.

“The vineyard will supply the winery with first class fruit from old vines and will give our business another prominent Bussell Highway site for possible future development,” he said.

The grapes will be marketed under the Baldivis Estate label which was bought by Palandri last year.

Mr Palandri said the vineyard purchase and the acquisition earlier this year of Baldivis Estate formed the nucleus of a corporate acquisition program which will extend into 2001 and beyond.

“We’re constantly on the lookout for new business opportunities and are currently exploring several significant acquisitions in the Margaret River Region,” he said.

Mr Palandri said the price paid for the property was justified.

“To me $10,000 (per acre) for bare land is too expensive but in our place we’ve got water, buildings, a house and vines.

He said the vines alone were valued at about $40,000.

Two years ago the company paid $390,000 for the 30-hectare property where the existing winery is situated

Mr Palandri said the reason for the price difference was because the winery property was undeveloped and unsuitable for viticulture. The planting’s that have been made on the property are purely for aesthetics, he said.

“It was not really bought for viticulture it was bought for the winery,” Mr Palandri said.

The main focus on viticulture lies with the Mount Barker property

Palandri Wines purchased 120 hectares at Frankland River from the parents of Anthony Wilkies, a senior executive of the company.

“All of these transactions are third party transactions, they are totally commercial transactions, arms length, no one owns them within our company,” Mr Palandri said.

Mr Palandri said while the negotiations over the new property had been carried out between himself and his brothers, Palandri had sought three values for the land from local real estate agents, which were taken into account.

Stocker Preston Margaret River principal Ray Stocker said the demand for land in the area had dropped substantially from about three to four years ago.

“If it’s not suitable for tourism or viticulture there are no buyers. There is not a market for normal farm land,” he said.

“Its going through one of those wait and see type of periods.”

He said land suitable for viticulture was selling for about $10,000-plus a hectare while land not suitable was generally worth less than half that.

Watershed Wines, which also has purchased land along the Bussell Highway, paid $10,500 per acre for 127 hectares of which about 60 per cent is suitable for viticulture.

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