The Basics of Buying Land for a Vineyard



By Caroline Kirby

Did you know that the history of winemaking in the United States dates back to as early as 1840, yet the culture of producing wine isn’t quite as robust as in other parts of the world. While the history is somewhat unknown and the celebration of American wine is still growing, in the last decade or so, there has been an increased interest in viticulture across most of the country.

Buying a vineyard, whether to make your own wine for personal use or to eventually sell and invite others on to your land to try, can be a tricky process. No matter how intimidating it may seem, there’s one thing to keep in mind – finding the right piece of land is essential to a successful vineyard.

What to know about buying land for winemaking

First things first, have a clear budget in mind and know exactly what you’re working with. Vineyards are extremely costly operations, and while it may be a dream of yours, if you’re not well-organized, it could quickly become a nightmare. Some factors that are crucial and should be prioritized when looking for land (and budgeting) includes:

• Evaluating soil quality
• Understanding and identifying a water source
• Assessing the amenities on the property (if any are pre-existing)
• The size of operation you will run
• Potential investors
• Distilling and sanitizing equipment

These items are just a few of the many that are critical to a successful vineyard operation. Now that you have some background to move forward let’s get clear on the type of land to look for.

Where can you buy land for a vineyard?

When discussing wine from the United States, the West Coast, specifically California, immediately comes to mind for most people. However, there are a handful of wine regions across the country that aren’t in the Golden State.

There are actually quite a few wine trails across the nation, but some of the most popular are:

• New Mexico
• Texas Hill Country
• Missouri
• Yadkin Valley of North Carolina
• Michigan
• Minnesota

Keep in mind that in addition to these six up-and-coming areas, California and Oregon are two of the most common areas with rich histories of American winemaking. Now that you know which areas of the country to focus on, here are the specifics when it comes to the actual land.

It can be tough and expensive to find quality land for growing grapes, but not impossible! Typically hillsides are the best land types to look for, but that doesn’t mean flat land is totally out of the question – it will just require more time and work to cultivate great grapes. An area that has a healthy balance between the elements, like sun and wind, is also important and can impact how your grapes turn out.

Before making any purchases for a vineyard, be sure to have the soil tested. This will be the literal foundation of your project and ensure you are set up for success. Buying land to create a vineyard can be a big task, but with these first steps in mind, it doesn’t have to be complicated!

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