Buying a Lifestyle Vineyard in the Napa Valley
The lure of living in a bucolic vineyard setting continues to attract successful people to relocate or build second homes in California’s wine country regions.
Some are serious about growing wine grapes, some want the country-chic lifestyle, and others simply prefer landscaping that provides some income. Whatever the impetus, buyers are buying lifestyle vineyards, despite the current economy woes. The acquisition of lifestyle vineyards reached an apex around 2005. So much so that, according to agriculture value specialist Tony Correia, the value of a vineyards’ home site potential has become a significant factor in the “value per acre” yardstick now commonly used in vineyard appraisals.
Prior to the lifestyle vineyard surge, a vineyard would have been valued according to price per planted or plantable acre. Now, Correia says, “We are adding home site values ranging from $250,000 to $1,000,000 or more to the per acre value equation, which significantly increases the bottom line price per acre overall.”
Despite county mandates to increase minimum parcel size requirements for subdividing land in most winery regions, savvy vineyard developers have discovered how to effectively mine the niche of lifestyle vineyards through creative, contiguous lot line adjustments. In Napa Valley for example, the minimum parcel size for dividing lots in the coveted Ag Preserve zoning is 40 acres, and in the coveted hillside areas zoned AW (Agricultural Watershed) the minimum lot size is now 160 acres, making small vineyard ranchettes nearly impossible to over-develop, thereby conserving the agriculture nature of the valley. Necessity (i.e., demand) being the mother of invention, further fueled by rising costs of vineyard farming and real estate values, the lifestyle vineyard is an economic win/win for both buyer and seller/grower.