Napa vs Oregon Wine Country: Coppola Edition
News that the Coppola family of Napa and Sonoma winery fame purchased the Vista Hills Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley shouldn’t be a real surprise. While there isn’t an exodus to Oregon among California winemakers, there certainly is a turning north in winemakers’ investment view.
The Vista Hills Vineyard is a pretty prime spot. Located in the Dundee Hills AVA and situated next door to Domaine Drouhin and Domaine Serene, the 42 acres of vineyard and tasting room and winery place it right in the middle of what is the hottest winegrowing regions in America and the source of some of the most coveted Pinot Noir vineyards in the world.
The real key to this purchase, however, is the value, at least relative to what Napa growers and winemakers experience on a daily basis. The price of the sale to the Coppola family was not disclosed.
The Question of Value
Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays sell at a premium price, well beyond the average for even California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Equally important is the location of the Willamette Valley, just an hour south of the major metropolitan area of Portland and its environs. This means that like Napa and Sonoma, the Willamette Valley is easily accessed by wine lovers from across the globe. This, in turn, means that Willamette Valley wineries can sell a larger percentage of their production direct from their tasting rooms and via wine clubs.
But back this question of value. Willamette Valley vineyards are still remarkably affordable compared to Napa and Sonoma.
Consider this Willamette Valley property: 83 acres with 13 planted located directly in the middle of the Yamhill Carlton AVA for $2.9 million. The description reads:
Sweeping 86.45ac in Yamhill Carlton AVA! Endless agribusiness opportunities: 12.7ac of producing vines, 26’x35′ equipment barn, 40’x162′ barn w/bay doors, slab parking w/semi access, office & area for grape processing, distilling & cold storage. Develop your own label & make this stunning acreage the next wine tasting destination. Or build your dream home nestled among mature evergreens overlooking gorgeous vineyard & valley views.
Now, consider what one can purchase in Napa Valley for a similar price: For $2.5 million you get 6.3 acres in the Coombsville District of Napa Valley, no vineyards, but with 3 acres of potential vineyard land. The description reads:
Idyllic country with privacy & seclusion – 6 1/3 acre parcel provides the perfect setting for your estate home with views of vineyards & the peaceful countryside. Includes County approved house plans for a contemporary ranch style home plus a detached 5 car garage – 3+ acres can be planted in Vineyard. There is an existing well and approval for a standard septic system. Close in location near Silverado Resort & Napa Valley CC. See Soil Report.
Oregon Looks Good To Us
I can’t speak to which is a better investment, the 83 acres of prime vineyard land in the Willamette Valley or the 6.3 acres in Napa Valley. Nor can I say what in particular drew the Coppola family to Oregon. But you don’t have to be Warren Buffett or Francis Ford Coppola to see the difference.
Kathy and I still have our eye on the Willamette Valley. We have been visiting the region looking for land and homes (not the kind spotlighted above, but something more modest). But we are looking in the Willamette Valley for many of the same reasons many vintners look north: value.