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AUSTRALIA: Vincorp sale of Hope Estate imminent

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Vincorp, the struggling Australian wine company, is expected to announce after a board meeting tomorrow (Friday) that it is selling virtually all its assets to the Hunter Valley's Hope Estate for about $A6m, that it has settled the $1.045m sale to Hope Estate of its Western Australia vineyard, and that it has reached an out-of court settlement in its dispute with a synthetic closure manufacturer. The dispute, with Adelaide-based Nukorc, was settled during an mediation hearing in Melbourne yesterday.Vincorp had claimed $A15,600 for the cost of Nukorcs, $A386,540 for losses associated with the recall of 8,640 cases of Trio Station wine and $A500,000 for loss of reputation and/or goodwill.Details of the settlement are not yet known.The asset sale, predicted by just-drinks.com two weeks ago, will include Vincorp's 250,000 litre winery at Kyneton, 80km north of Melbourne, 56ha of vineyards, its premium Virgin Hills label and an agreement with Virgin Airlines which allows it to market Virgin Hills worldwide.Hope Estate, at Fordwich, in the Hunter Valley, is owned by pharmacist Michael Hope who founded it in 1994 as Hill of Hope, changing the name last year in an agreement with CA Henschke & Co, producers of the super-premium Hill of Grace.In 1996 he bought the disused Saxonvale Winery from Orlando Wyndham which had acquired it when Pernod Ricard-owned Orlando took over Wyndham Estate.Hope Estate has a 2000-tonne capacity and crushed 1,200 tonnes, including 900 tonnes of its own fruit, in the 2000 vintage.Chris Snow


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