Watershed for southern wine industry

Four things make a wine investment scheme more attractive to investors, according to Watershed project manager and Garton Smith & Barrett partner Geoff Barrett.

“Firstly, it has to be in Margaret River,” Mr Barrett said.

“Secondly, there is a requirement for investors to participate in land ownership.

“Thirdly, it is necessary to engage key people who are well known within the industry and, fourthly, there must be sound investment returns.”

The four key elements were identified by Watershed after approaching Australian Financial planners for advice.

“It’s one thing to develop a product, it is another thing to sell the product,” he said.

With this in mind, Mr Barrett secured 314 acres at the intersection of Darch Road and Bussell Highway, five kilometres south of Margaret River.

Mr Barrett also believes it is important for a project to cover all aspects of the wine-making process – from vines to bottle.

Those only involved in plantings would not be successful, he said.

As part of the first stage of the development of the property, Watershed plans to build a $4 million winery complete with cellar door sales and café.

The winery will be capable of handling 800 tonnes initially with capacity to increase in stage two of the development to 1,600 tonnes by 2002.

A further expansion has been forecast in 2003 to lift capacity to 2,400 tonnes.

Based on current figures, Watershed will be the second largest wine producer in Margaret River behind Evans & Tate.

Work has already been done on providing a reliable water source, with more than $200,000 spent on building a 25-acre dam.

He said it was important to be credible because some operators “sucked projections out of the air”.

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