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Vineyard group has big plans for the West

A TAX-EFFECTIVE vineyard developer with close links to Australian wine giant Orlando Wyndham is planning to expand its Margaret River holdings as part of $10 million fund raising effort.

Food and Beverage Australia will use part of its National Viticulture Fund of Australia Project No 2 to add 11 hectares to the 80ha vineyard it controls in the Wilyabrup sub-region, one of Margaret River’s biggest plantings, which is mainly used to supply Brookland Valley and its associate BRL Hardy.

It is also looking to buy some of the existing site, known as the Bantry Bay Vineyard, from the three WA businessmen, Mark Bahen, Dominic Bourke and David O’Mahoney, who own the property where they also grow trees, which are sold to property developers.

FABA chief operating officer Keith Hentschke said the Margaret River expansion was the group’s short-term goal in WA.

But Mr Hentschke said the group had earmarked the State for further investment.

“We have been looking for alternative vineyard sites. It would be fair to say that, after the initial plantings, we have identified Margaret River as a high priority,” he said.

“Our intention over time is to grow our business not only in Margaret River, but in alternative sites across the State.”

“We will probably develop an additional 60-100 hectares in the West within the next three years.”

Mr Hentschke said FABA developed and managed its own sites and was not put off by the debate and controversy raging around tax-effective invest-ments.

“We don’t see ourselves as being driven as a tax-effective project.”

“The fact that we have structured the project to take maximum effect of the tax deductions in the first five years is only one side of the deal.”

“These projects stand up on their own two feet.”

However, Mr Hentschke said the cost of land in Margaret River meant the element of the projects devoted to WA was not as profitable as some of FABA’s South Australian operations.

“Needless to say, there are reasons for us to be in WA.”

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