Why should you buy a vineyard for sale in California? Even though there is the possibility of economic risks that are common with any agricultural venture, there are also plenty of rewards, too. For many, operating a vineyard is a way of living out a dream.
However, there are several things you will need to keep in mind when deciding whether to buy a vineyard. If you’re not already familiar with the grapes and how they’re grown, this is a subject you will need to get familiar with for the best results. Another consideration is which region to consider, as each offer different advantages, as well as disadvantages. The area that you choose can also influence whether the vineyard will be a public attraction or not, such as a winery that boasts a restaurant on-site.
Grant James Vineyard is a well-established winery in Ramona, CA. Hear from owner and operator Susanne Sapier:
Types of Wine Grapes
What’s the difference between wine grapes vs. table grapes? Wine grapes are smaller, have a thicker skin, contain more juice and seeds compared to table grapes. Make sure to do your grape research before starting a vineyard! Here are the seven grape varieties popularly used in California wines:
- Zinfandel -- A black-skinned grape popular in red wines often infused with other fruit flavors like raspberry or blackberry, one of the most popular red wines on the market
- Cabernet Sauvignon -- One of the most popular red wine grapes, this grape variety is easily cultivated
- Syrah -- A red wine grape noted for a full-bodied flavor that blends easily with other flavors like blackberry
- Chardonnay -- Green-skinned grapes used in white wine that blend nicely with tropical fruit flavors
- Sauvignon Blanc -- A grape used in white wines that offers the best flavor when consumed while young
- Merlot -- This dark-colored grape is fleshy and soft, with an early ripening that makes it a good choice to blend with other grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir -- Of all the red wine grapes, Pinot Noir requires the most care during cultivation, making its vines high-maintenance
All of these varieties account for some of the most famous wines from California. Regardless of whether they are blended with other types in wines or not, they provide robust flavors that are certain to be enjoyed.
What is “Terroir” and Why is it Important?
Terroir refers to the ways terrain, soil, and climate affect wine’s taste. Wine enthusiasts consider some wine-growing areas to have more terroir than others, which is a significant factor in much of California’s wine areas.
This term, which is somewhat obscure for many people, has its origins in describing Old World wines. In modern usage, the word can describe each region that produces wine, including the wine-growing areas of California.
Terrain plays a significant role, with altitude and other plant life in the area being able to impact the wine’s taste. Soil types, as well as the amount of rock and mineral deposits in the soil, can affect the taste, too. Climate has an impact on the form of warmer regions producing wines with higher sugar content and less acidity.
California Wine Regions
California is home to several unique wine regions, all of which have growing lists of vineyards. These regions include:
- Southern California, including San Diego County, Temecula, and Malibu
- Sierra Foothills, including Amador County
- Central Valley, the origin of many California wines, includes Fresno, Madera, San Joaquin, Yolo, and Sacramento areas
- Southern Central Coast, which includes Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, and San Luis Obispo
- Northern Central Coast, including the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey, and Livermore
- North Coast, consisting of Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake County, and Los Carneros
One of the advantages that the different regions offer is the ability to grow different types of grapes, depending on the proximity to the coast and the elevation. The differences in terroir allow California vineyard owners to produce several wine varieties in popular demand.
What to Look for in a Vineyard for Sale
Think about what types of grapes you want to grow, and what the ideal growing conditions are for them, then look at land/lots for sale. You’ll want to find out about the irrigation available, especially if your choice grapes require more water. Another thing you should look for is whether the land for the vineyard has a slope because the slope helps create air drainage. Watch for valleys or hills, which could create pockets more susceptible to spring frosts.
Top 10 Tips for Aspiring Winery Owners
1. Have public access
- A winery is only as good as its tasting room. Your winery does not have to be in the center of town; however, it should be accessible by car at the very least. Clear instructions should be provided regarding how to get to your winery both on the website, and outside of the property (signs). Running a winery can be much more enjoyable if you spread your craft to others through tasting rooms and winery tours, so effective public access is a major factor.
2. Make sure there is a well
- A well is by far the best water source available for your winery. Although wines love dry, arid climates, water is still vital for a successful vineyard. Investing in a well is one of the most economical decisions you can make for your winery.
3. Get an AG meter
- Grape vines can be very sensitive to unbalanced pH, salinity, and alkalinity. An AG meter can allow you to test your soil, and then improve its conditions to get the most out of your grape vines. We believe that this is well worth the initial investment.
4. Consider solar power
- Many wineries are turning to solar energy for power. Not only is it great for the environment, but it is also an efficient way to save money in the long-run on energy costs. California solar state incentives will typically make the solar investment less expensive than market price. Investing in on-site battery storage is also a great way to prepare for blackouts and surge pricing.
5. Plant with wind in mind
- Wind adds a cooling element that can extend grape hang time and they are vital to good wine grapes. Fast winds like the Santa Anas will cause vines to protect themselves by shutting down. This can cause grapes to be increasingly ripe. Depending on the setting of your winery, natural wind tunnels can form along hills and in valleys.
6. Find best grapes for area
- Once you decide upon an area, it is time to pick the best possible grapes to grow in your climate. It is essential to choose a grape varietal that is suitable for your property location. For example, Julian’s hot climate and soil is ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon.
7. Hire experts
- Consider hiring a viticulturist to help determine the proper varietal, vine and row spacing, trellis system type, and ideal exposure level. Experts in these fields can save you a lot of time and money in the future by not allowing potential winery flaws to go unnoticed.
8. Perform grape petiole analysis
- Grape Petiole Analysis, or GPA, is another way to test your grape vine’s health. Petiole testing shows the current nutrient status of a vine. This allows you to make decisions regarding which fertilizer to use.
9. Get a good real estate broker
- Having a knowledgeable and trustworthy real estate broker can make a huge difference when looking to purchase a winery. Red Hawk Realty, for example, has extensive experience with wineries big and small in Julian and other San Diego backcountry regions. From properly assessing a vineyard property to negotiating a fair price, a credible real estate broker is crucial.
10. Appreciate your wine!
- If you spend time and money in perfecting the winery craft, then you might as well appreciate and enjoy the process. Bottles produced and glasses poured are quite literally the “fruits” of your labor! Take some time to admire and appreciate your creations.
The Importance of a Vineyard Broker
When you’re in the market for a vineyard, it’s essential to use a broker, particularly one who is very familiar with the area where you’re buying a vineyard. Among other things, a broker can be familiar with local zoning laws, making it easier for you to plan how you’ll do business. The broker can also help the transaction go much more smoothly. Red Hawk Realty has the necessary experience in the backcountry and similar types of property for sale.
Getting AG Loans
When you’re looking for a vineyard for sale in California, ag loans are one of the most valuable resources that you have at your disposal. If your property is ten or more acres, you can get access to funding with few restrictions. The loan choices that you have are quite flexible, giving you greater assurance that everything will work out well for you.
If you decide to purchase a California vineyard, you’re going to have an opportunity to live out a dream. Contact us today to find your next vineyard for winery!