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Winery boosts sale chance

LISTED winemaker Evans & Tate has made Australian Wine Holding’s job of selling its Bridgeland Vineyard property easier by reaching an in-principle agreement to lease the property.

The Evans & Tate lease will run for 10 years and has two five-year options.

AWH bought the 201 hectare property, which has 98ha planted to vine and a 17ha dam, from troubled tax effective vineyard scheme Bridgeland Vineyards.

Bridgeland Vineyards had intended to supply grapes to Hotham Valley winery but failed to secure enough investors.

Hotham Valley, now AWH, bought the winery about 12 months ago.

It has been trying to sell the property in the Rosa Glen area of Margaret River but decided to pursue the leasehold option to try and boost its sale chances.

AWH executive chairman Mike Calneggia said his company had acquired the vineyard but believed it was producing more fruit than it could use.

“We canvassed offers for sale of the property but decided we wouldn’t get a suitable return from the offers we received. We decided leasehold offered us the best option,” he said.

“We’ll be actively marketing the property over the next six to eight weeks internationally. With a long-term tenant, the property becomes more attractive to investors.

“And we are no longer managing the vineyard and writing cheques for fruit we don’t need.”

Mr Calneggia said he considered a price of $8 million to be about right for the property.

He said the rental would provide an “attractive” commercial yield for AWH

Evans & Tate chairman Franklin Tate said Bridgeland would be a good addition to his company’s chardonnay program.

“We are currently evaluating a number of our sites across the Margaret River area to assess the unique environmental conditions on chardonnay quality,” he said.

The vineyard has produced good fruit from its 2001 and 2002 vintages.

AWH has agreed to graft some cabernet sauvignon plantings to chardonnay and sauvignon blanc to increase the potential of the site.

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