Where Would You Buy A Vineyard?

Ever thought about buying some dirt in Wine Country somewhere in the world and setting up shop with a vineyard? I have. If I were to get into the production side of the wine business and money were no object, I’d become a grower. But, as a wonderful new article in the latest issue of Wine Enthusiast by Roger Voss and Kathleen Buckley points out, money can be an object that gets in your way.

"The Price of Dirt" in the May 2007 issue of Wine Enthusiasts looks at what it costs to buy vineyards and homes in various wine countries around the world. They also analyze the various wine countries in terms of ROI potential, lifestyle benefits and other criteria.

Now, I’m a big fan of categorizations, lists and groupings. The writers of this article break down the various wine countries into a variety of categories: "Hot" regions, "not hot" regions, "high risk" regions and "Lifestyle" regions. I was particularly interested in regions described as "high risk". They describe these regions thus:

"These are places that have an element in flux. Some have financial or political risks, others lack an international lifestyle, either because it is in an embryo stage, or because it will never happen, with distance or climate posing permanent disadvantage."

Among the regions that Voss and Buckley put in the  "High Risk"  category are Lake County and Paso Robles. I’m not a  financial analyst or a real estate speculator so I can’t make any judgment about the risk investment in these areas pose. But I do know they are both growth areas for vineyards and winemaking.  I also know the wines being made from these grapes can be outstanding.

My choice?  If I were to set up vineyard shop anywhere in California it would Anderson Valley. This is not a choice based on a financial consideration. It’s personal. The wines from this region are, in my view, world class. The region is beautiful. The people are unaffected by notions of grandeur based on their own personal beauty and place in the world.  But I also believe that 20 years down the road Anderson Valley will be spoke of as among the top 4 or 5 winemaking regions in America.

The article is fantastic and I recommend picking up this issue for this article alone.

14 Responses

  1. Brent Kennedy - April 4, 2007

    We bought acreage in the Swan Creek area of North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley AVA. This is much more cost-effective, as we would like to have enough money to retire this century…

  2. ozzie - April 4, 2007

    You took my future plans right out of my mouth.

  3. Jerry Murray - April 4, 2007

    Oregon has got plenty of acreage left, compared to CA it is virtualy free. The bussiness is booming here in Oregon and as far as quality of life goes I’m not sure any place could be better. Oh, I forgot about the 6 months of clouds and rain, so Oregon is less for the lifestyle gang and more for the aspiring hardcore grower.

  4. dfredman - April 4, 2007

    Spending my own money, Anderson Valley would be my great choice, taking into consideration factors such as appropriate grape varieties and the cost of living and overall quality of life. However (and at the risk of sounding parochial and chauvinistic) if I had someone else’s money to blow, my preferred AVA to buy in would be Malibu. Depending upon where in the AVA the property is situated, Rhone, Bordeaux, or Burgundian varieties grow quite nicely- it’s just a matter of finding a capable winemaker attuned to the potential of the region and then trucking the grapes to the nearest custom crush facility (no wineries are within the AVA yet). Whether the wine could be sold for a price adequate to justify the cost of the land (and its planting) is immaterial; I would suspect that the same holds true throughout the Napa Valley, the big differences being the history of Napa’s wine biz vs the Malibu’s ocean views. I wouldn’t mind making the sacrifices to become this sort of pioneer.

  5. Jack - April 4, 2007

    Eyeing the Friuli/Slovenian border…

  6. Tim Carlisle - April 5, 2007

    Me – I’d head into the Languedoc of Southern France, and particularly to the St. Chinian region and then to either Cessenon or Roquebrun or possible St Chinian itself.

  7. jeff - April 5, 2007

    We bought in Calaveras County precisely because of its ROI potential, and its unrecognized potential to make great wine. Proximity to a large and growing population of upwardly mobile (the central valley), plenty of suitable land, the right climate, plenty of other things to do that get people here, and just three traffic lights…

  8. Catie - April 5, 2007

    In Walla Walla, WA we still have some affordable land and housing. At this time we have 100 bonded wineries in Walla2 with more on the way. Last spring, Money magazine put us in the top five of places to retire. However, if you buy acreage close to wheat land, beware of buckshot from your wheat farmer neighbor. They do not like those “fancy grape farmers from the big city.”(which prompted a local winery to name a red wine after the farmers who oppose vineyards – known as Red Neck Red. Okay – TMI.) We cannot seem to get the wheat farmers to understand that the wine tourist who buys wine at $30-50 a bottle will not litter the land with empties. Yet they’ve been ignoring the empty Bud cans from the local high school kids for years
    But most important, if you plant vineyards, do not plant Merlot. The local wine community will laugh at you. Cheers!

  9. WineBoy! - April 5, 2007

    New Mexico has an awesome climate to grow grapes. With altitude at 4500 feet and higher (think Argentina or Chile like). We are not yet known as a wine area, ( but land is cheap and that’s the point). Farm land can still be bought for around $3,000 dollars an acre.Besides, I’ll bet noone reading this blog knows doodly squat about New Mexico and the fact that is a part of the U.S.
    Arizona’s not that bad either, think Erath’s large vineyard purchase.
    Altitude rocks! The best diurnal shift baby!

  10. alan estrada - April 15, 2007

    if you can consider mendo/ anderson valley then you should consider so. humboldt county

  11. Bill Pleasants - April 24, 2007

    Another great area to consider is the coastal area of North Carolina. This region still grows what is considered “America’s First Wine” from Scuppernong and Muscadine grapes. http://www.realtor.com/Prop/1077221453

  12. Napa Valley Finance - October 14, 2007

    I am selling a high profile winery in St. Helena , CA for a very famous winemaker. If you or anybody you know are interested, an offering memorandum and an appraisal are available. Details of the transaction are below. Asking price is $9,500,000. Please contact for further information and to set up a time to talk.
    Napa Valley Finance
    Transaction Background: *************** is a privately-owned company engaged in the wine business and, through its ************** or the “Company”, operates the historic ***************, current home of ************* in Saint Helena , California .************* has determined to pursue the sale of ***********.
    Operations: The historic ******************** founded in 1891, current home of ****************, is located on *****************, Saint Helena , California . *********** is approximately three miles north of the city of Saint Helena , in Napa County , California . The property is located within both the Napa Valley and Saint Helena American Viticultural Areas on two parcels of approximately 72 acres. ********** is a premium estate winery, permitted for 20,000 gallons of annual production or 8,000 cases, with private tours and tastings by appointment. ************* includes a premium winery facility, caves, and estate vineyards with two homesites, with the potential of available planting of approximately four (4) additional acres.
    Winery Buildings: Full Service Winery and Tasting Room: 4,212 square feet; Winery Caves: 7,200 square feet; Main house, 1,200+ square feet, Second house, 747± square feet, Storage building, 460± square feet, Shed, 315± square feet, Historic Barn, 1,335± square feet.
    Winery Vineyards: Premium Zinfandel and Petite Sirah varietal wine grape vineyard of 5.5 and 0.5 acres respectively, comprising a total of 6.0 acres. The grapevines are not trellised but maintained under the globay system.
    Winery Equipment: The Winery is equipped with state-of-the-art production equipment including a 2,300 liter Diemme Press and 11 stainless steel storage tanks of various capacities capable of handling the 20,000 gallons of annual production.
    Production: Production at the Winery has included 10,000 gallons of in-house annual production and 10,000 gallons of custom crush annual production.

  13. Isaac Vélez - January 13, 2008

    i would like to buy one in argentina near the mendoza region.

  14. Larry - September 21, 2010

    Can anyone recommend a couple of very good vineyard brokerage houses for European wineries?
    [email protected]

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