Its a Vineyard Sellers Market

It’s a Vineyard Seller’s Market Speakers at financial symposium compare data and trends in West Coast states

by Paul Franson

Rising vineyard prices in California have caused acquisition activity in the Pacific Northwest to increase.   Napa, Calif.—The 23rd Wine Industry Financial Symposium, designed to bring together lenders and the wine business, was held earlier this week at the Marriott Napa Valley. Among many interesting sessions, one that attracted great attention was that on winery and vineyard sales and acquisitions. John Mackie, the managing partner of law firm Carle, Mackie, Power & Ross, moderated a panel of Josh Grace, managing director, International Wine Associates; Matthew Franklin, principal, Zepponi & Company; and vineyard appraiser Tony Correia of the Correia Company. Josh Grace started the discussion with transactions in the Pacific Northwest, which has become a hotbed of wine property sales. With Oregon approaching 600 wineries and 25,000 planted acres, producing 3.3 million cases annually, he noted that wine grape growers have to compete with blueberries, hazelnuts and hops for craft breweries, all of which are very popular. Washington has 680 bonded and virtual wineries, according to Wines Vines Analytics, and Grace estimated there are 45,000 planted acres, producing 13 million cases. There, apples, cherries and, again, hops are alternative lucrative crops. Washington has twice the acreage but four times the output due to higher yields of 4 to 5 tons per acre compared to Oregon’s 2 to 2.5 tons. Oregon and Washington in total grape production are similar in size to several of California’s coastal counties. Sonoma has about 60,000 acres, Monterey and Napa about 45,000. The planted acres in Oregon grew by 25% between 2011 and 2012, according to survey results from Southern Oregon University, and Grace said that the rapid growth will continue in the near future. The yield disparity between Oregon and Washington vineyards is generally offset by the increased value per-ton of Oregon grapes, which are 80% Pinot Noir. Washington averages $1,110 per ton for a revenue per acre of $5,550, compared to Oregon’s average of $2,500 per ton and $5,625 per acre. Oregon, even at the highest pricing, is a very attractive option for growing Pinot Noir compared to the prices for Russian River and Anderson Valley vineyards in California. Washington has had a greater spread of vineyard prices from low to high compared to Oregon because of greater differences in growing conditions and more diverse planting of varieties. Even at a high of $75,000 to $80,000 per acre for top Oregon AVAs, and Walla Walla and Red Mountain AVAs, Washington and Oregon have a long way to go before reaching the prices for top California vineyards.

Significant transactions in the Pacific Northwest:

•1987 Maison Drouhin of Burgundy created Domaine Drouhin Oregon

• 1990 Chalone Vineyard invested in Canoe Ridge Vineyard in Washington

• 1991 Gary Andrus of Pine Ridge Vineyards and the Crimson Wine Group started Archery Summit in Oregon

• 1995 Col Solare a joint venture between Marchese Antinori and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Washington

• 2001 Lion Nathan bought Argyle Winery in Oregon

• 2001 Vincor bought Hogue Cellars in Washington (Vincor was later acquired by Constellation Brands)

• 2001 Constellation acquired Columbia and Covey Run in Washington • 2005 Crimson Wine Group bought Double Canyon Vineyards in Washington

• 2006 Ste. Michelle bought Erath Winery in Oregon

• 2008 Bill Foley bought into Three Rivers Winery in Washington

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