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Questions to Consider Before Buying a Vineyard

The pizza's been eaten.  Now time for more wine and the sunset. Sonoma County, California.

A vineyard can be a rewarding investment – but before you go through with the purchases, here are some questions to ask.

  1. What’s the climate like?
    The vineyard’s climate can be evaluated on the basis of three things:

    • Region
    • Field
    • Vines

    Sonoma County adjoins Napa Valley and is regarded as one of the most diverse wine regions in the whole world. It has a combination of microclimates, topography, and soil types that create over 18 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). All Sebastopol vineyards benefit from the right mix of weather, temperature, rainfall, and fog.

    The county grows about 66 varieties of winegrapes. However, only seven varieties make up 90% of its planted acres:

    • Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Chardonnay
    • Merlot
    • Pinot Noir
    • Sauvignon Blanc
    • Syrah
    • Zinfandel

    On average, daytime temperatures are a comfortable 71˚F. The hottest summer days rarely go beyond 84˚F. Nighttime temperatures, on average, are in the 40s. Hard frosts are rare.

    At the beginning of the fall harvest, Sonoma County weather remains moderate, with negligible rainfall. There’s no measurable hail or snow. Average rainfall is somewhere between 25 and 30 inches each year.

    Winegrapes thrive in the county’s climate and, while it experiences occasional hard rains and extremes in temperature, coastal fog and small amounts of summer rain serve to temper its moderate diurnal swings.

  2. What sort of buildings are there?
    Wineries, tasting rooms, and wine cellars are some of the most common structures you’ll find on vineyards. Some winemakers even build houses for bats to make their vineyard greener. So when buying a vineyard, ask the seller what kind of structures you can expect to find on the property, and determine whether these structures will help you serve your purpose.

    Another thing to consider is winery architecture. Whether you’d like a more rustic winery or a sleek and contemporary building to house your wines and equipment, take a look at how the structures on the vineyard have been designed.

  3. What are the on-site equipment and facilities?
    The seller will provide a full list of wine making equipment that will be included in the sale. They will also indicate the age and condition of every piece of equipment, as well as disclose any outstanding purchase or leasing agreement.

    Though wine vats are commonly made of stainless steel, they can also be found in concrete, resin, and wood varieties. Trailers, tractors, and sprayers are usually included in the equipment list.

    Keep in mind too that smaller vineyards typically share some equipment with neighboring vineyards, or hire contractors for tasks like wine bottling and picking grapes by machine.

    The facilities should be clean and must comply with health and safety standards. If you want to offer wine tastings, you must have a quiet and well-lit room for Degustation and the sale of wines.

  4. Employment contracts
    Buyers are expected to take over employment contracts and other business obligations. That’s why it’s important to determine the vineyard’s legal and financial situation beforehand. You must also ensure on the day of the purchase that relevant details pertaining to wages, holidays, and bonuses are up-to-date.

Getting the answers to these questions will help you make all the right choices when looking at Sonoma County vineyards for sale.