Sonoma Pinot Noir Vineyard Properties In High Demand

With the North Coast harvest reaching an early conclusion this year, demand for property acquisitions has started lighting up lenders’ phones again.

“We’ve done a couple sizable vineyard-only deals” in the past two months in Sonoma and Napa counties, said Bill Rodda, vice president and Santa Rosa branch manager for American AgCredit. “We did a deal [Oct. 29] for a winery looking for better access to winegrapes, and it was contiguous property.”

While different types of buyers interested in North Coast wineries remain in the market, the pool of buyers for vineyard properties is deeper, lenders say. Highly sought-after vineyards in the past three to five years have been Sonoma County properties growing pinot noir and those in Napa County producing cabernet sauvignon.

The “frenzy” of vineyard buying started in earnest in late 2011 as the small size of that year’s crop became evident. That continued for the past two years, but the size the subsequent crops and increasing local challenges for vineyard development have been affecting the market. For example, some Rabobank clients looking to lock in long-term sources of top-end Napa cab are scrutinizing deals even more closely.

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