In summer of 2020 we sourced 200 acres of prime Russian River vineyard for a long-time institutional investment manager client. The bulk-wine industry has been extraordinarily challenged since 2018 due to, among other factors, a significant excess of both wine and fruit in the market. The imbalance has slowed the land and vineyard market nearly to a halt. Despite the challenges in the market, we’ve had capital waiting for quality opportunities to arise, and this opportunity absolutely fit the bill as a high-quality, investment grade vineyard asset.
Going forward the buyer plans a phased redevelopment of the vineyard. In the meantime, they’ve secured short-term contracts on the vineyard blocks that will remain in place. When all is said and done, they’ll have a modern and efficient, 200-acre premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard located within the heart of the Russian River Valley.
CASE STUDY 1
INSTITUTIONAL SCALE VINEYARD, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY
In the spring of 2018, we were engaged to sell a 120-acre former dairy located within the heart of the Russian River Valley AVA. The ranch included a significant amount of quality plantable ground, but also potential challenges given its location and proximity to the Laguna de Santa Rosa.
Prior to taking the offering public, our pre-marketing outreach to the wine-industry generated significant interest. Less than a week into the public marketing period, we were in escrow with a wine-industry veteran who, as it turned out, had been the first buyer to tour the ranch. The ranch is now planted to nearly 100 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a scale and layout that should make it extremely productive and efficient to farm.
CASE STUDY 2
HALL ROAD DAIRY, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY
In 2016 long-time client Eric Flanagan, manager of Russian River Partners, was looking to deploy capital with the goal of obtaining “plus” farming returns. As land prices have risen, particularly in Napa and Sonoma Counties, farming returns, from a grower perspective, have become more difficult to achieve. With this in mind, we sought out the Brandt Ranch on the Kelsey Bench in Lake County.
The site included 110 acres under-vine, a significant portion of which was virused, under-performing, and bought at a discount. After closing, the virused blocks were redeveloped. Once the vineyard is fully online ~2021, the returns should be excellent as Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon continues to see increasing demand and pricing, and the gentle slopes and significant scale make the ranch incredibly efficient to farm.
CASE STUDY 3
RUSSIAN RIVER PARTNERS, BRANDT RANCH, KELSEY BENCH
In 2015 we privately marketed the Donnelly Creek Vineyard, in Anderson Valley. The vineyard totaled 42 acres and included a mix of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. We brought the opportunity to UBS Farmland Investors, who recognized the growing reputation of Anderson Valley as an ultra-premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay region, and they acquired the vineyard.
At the time of purchase, the vineyard was leased out and a redevelopment plan was put in place with the goal of transforming the vineyard into one that was modern and ultra-premium. Hall Wines of Napa is currently executing that plan for their WALT label and stewarding the vineyard into its new phase.
CASE STUDY 4
DONNELLY CREEK VINEYARD, ANDERSON VALLEY