An initial FF5m investment in a premium wine producer/distributor, believed to be headquartered in Chablis in France, is expected to be announced soon by the Australian Wine and Horticultural Fund.

The Fund - to be renamed The International Wine Investment Fund from tomorrow (Wednesday) - is planning to eventually lift the investment to FF40m.

The investment is likely to be the Fund's first since a controversial major restructure, opposed in its initial forms by institutional investors, earlier this year.

The Fund, which is BRL Hardy's major shareholder with 13% of the stock, is also close to finalising a $A5m investment which will give it a 10% stake in the recently merged Tatachilla-St Hallet winery.

It is also about to invest another $A5 million in five vineyards in four States. The Fund has also redeemed $A6m of convertible notes in Australia's dominant fruit juice producer, Berri Ltd, and is preparing to shed its stakes in Chiquita Brands South Pacific and almond producer Select Harvests.

Chris Snow