properties with vineyards for sale

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Ripe for the picking: the prime terroirs to snap up a vineyard estate

20 June 2024 • Written by Ruth Bloomfield

Ruth Bloomfield explores the best estates for vineyard hobbying...

With the threat of frost damage in winter and mealy bugs and mildew in summer, winemaking can be a precarious business. Yet for enthusiasts, making your own wine is an intoxicating dream. Most of the wine we drink is produced commercially and on a grand scale. But a hobby vineyard set on a handful of hectares can still produce a few thousand bottles per year and is becoming an increasingly popular add-on to a prime country home across Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

“Honestly, who wouldn’t want to have their own name on a wine label?” asks Arthur Goodrich, of Sotheby’s International Realty in St Helena, in California’s wine country.

Napa Valley is synonymous with good wine – this house has its own 3.6-hectare vineyard and large wine cellar
Credit: Paul Rollins for Sotheby’s International Realty

Goodrich’s vineyard buyers tend to be American second-homeowners in their forties and fifties, who house-hunt around the resort areas of Napa and Sonoma counties where they can also enjoy great restaurants and spas, and not be too far from the coast.

Vineyards don’t have to be large to be worthwhile. Even 2,000 square metres of vines can produce up to three tonnes of grapes per year, which can be converted into 75 cases of wine. “I know a number of clients who are able to pay their property taxes and insurance with the proceeds from selling their grapes,” Goodrich says.

Southern Europe is another ripe hunting ground for vineyard estates. “Wine is part of the romantic dream of owning a property in Italy,” says Danilo Romolini, sales manager at Agenzia Romolini Immobiliare, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in Tuscany. “And it is common for an historic estate in Italy to be surrounded by vineyards. It has got charm, and it means you can enjoy your home’s products and share them with your friends.”

Credit: Paul Rollins for Sotheby’s International Realty

Around 95 per cent of the buyers Romolini deals with are from overseas – mostly from North America and across Europe. Most don’t wish to get their hands too dirty with the process of grape growing and wine production, instead outsourcing the work to a nearby commercial vineyard.

Location-wise, Tuscany is the top spot for an Italian vineyard, and prices vary wildly. Land alone starts at around €80,000 (£68,600) per hectare, but if you want to be in prime Montalcino you could end up paying €1.5 million. Most buyers looking for a home with a hobby plot spend around €3 million to €8 million. Demand, Romolini says, is strong, and this means that even small vineyard properties tend to outperform in terms of price growth, making them a practical, as well as aspirational, purchase.

In the South of France, Richard Singer, of Leggett estate agents, says the key area for buyers keen on wine is around the medieval town of Uzès, which is real red-wine country. “Buyers come from all over the world – from Scandinavia, Australia, the US – to the area, which is blessed not only with good soil and climate but proximity to fast trains to Paris (just over three hours), and beautiful countryside,” Singer says.

The hobby vineyard buyers Singer deals with tend to be looking for a passion project to throw themselves into. “They want to have the whole experience of growing grapes and making wine.”

A home of around 280 square metres with 40,000 to 120,000 square metres of grounds would cost well over £1 million, which is expensive for the area. “The average budget in the area is half that, or even less,” Singer says. Across France, the rural land agency SAFER reported that in 2022 (the most up-to-date figures available) 9,520 vineyards sold, with prices steadily increasing by around two per cent per year.

This Grade II listed farmhouse in West Sussex boasts a commercial vineyard as well as formal gardens and a detached annexe

Anyone who does invest in a vineyard will be following in some A-list footsteps. Sting was an early adopter, although his property could not be called a mere hobby; Il Palagio is a 350-hectare estate in Tuscany, purchased by the musician and his wife Trudie Styler back in 1999. It now produces around 150,000 bottles per year. 

Film director Francis Ford Coppola also has a winery in the Sonoma Valley, while Brad Pitt and his ex-wife Angelina Jolie famously bought Château Miraval and its organic vineyard in Provence in 2008 (although, post-separation, Jolie sold her share in the estate, triggering an ongoing court case).

And David and Victoria Beckham – the rumoured new owners of a 40-metre Riva Bellissima – are also said to own their own vineyard in Napa Valley, perhaps in a clever bid to keep their 117-square-metre wine cellar at their Oxfordshire country home nicely stocked.

On the market:

Seven-bedroom property in California 

In the heart of California’s Napa Valley, this seven-bedroom property – a three-bed main home and two guest houses – is set on 23 hectares of land with a 3.6-hectare vineyard and views across the surrounding valleys and hills. $22 million, 

historic six-bedroom farmhouse in Sussex 

The British wine industry is growing fast, and this historic six-bedroom farmhouse in West Sussex has 20,000 vines. The first wine was produced in 2022. £3.5 million,

A fairytale property

A fairytale Tuscan property with views all the way to Florence, the Castle of Vincigliata has stood for almost 1,000 year. Its grounds include olive groves and vineyards capable of producing 25,000 bottles a year. €18.5 million, 

Read More/Eco-property: the emerging generation of energy efficient coastal homes

First published in the July 2024 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

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