Wine Country Real Estate – Building Blocks

Sonoma & Napa Real Estate Essentials

Learning more about wine country real estate – building blocks / foundation will certainly help when making a final buying or selling decision.  Before we even start to evaluate a luxury estate, winery or country home we have to take a look at several factors from the ground up:  vineyard value, plantable land value and the site (home or winery) value.

These three factors can present a myriad of different values, questions and debate… especially in Sonoma and Napa County’s where the values can have a dramatic variance.


(watch the video for more details)
Vineyard, Plantable Land, and Site (home / winery)


Believe it or not the site value is the most valuable component of a piece of land in wine country.  The site could be considered a home site or potentially a winery site.  The size of the site could range anywhere from half an acre to several acres.  This site value alone can range anywhere from nearly nothing to $5,000,000 or more!  Yes, it’s true… and valuable.  The better the view, accessibility, privacy yet proximity to creature comforts drive the site value up.  There are some parcels that have no site value because there is not ability to build or develop, for instance if a property sits in a severe flood zone.


Vineyards in wine country are not all the same.  Of course they all produce some of our favorite wines but different locations, varietals, age and condition can make a huge difference in their market price. The range of vineyard prices in Sonoma and Napa County can range from $60,000 / acre to more than $300,000 / acre.

Plantable Land

As with vineyards, all plantable land is not the same.  Different soils, location and potential all come into play, even within the same Appellation.

Variance in Value – County to County & within AVA

Prices paid for these building blocks vary tremendously from one area to another.  For instance, crossing the county line from Sonoma to Napa County, vineyard prices in some areas automatically double and then some.  Even within the same Appellation (AVA) prices can show an impressive lack of consistency.  The factors that drive this variance include the micro climate, soils, rootstock, varietals, quality, vineyard designation, water resources etc..
Keeping this in mind, let’s take a closer look at both Sonoma and Napa County current market values.  But first I want to thank The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers for providing the industry with unbiased and useable data.

Sonoma County

Sonoma continues to show strong demand for vineyard and luxury properties. The highest price / market vineyards have been located in the cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay regions such as the Russian River and Sonoma Coast Appellations, selling at record highs.  Even so there are additional outliers in other appellation for super premium vineyards, in areas like the Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon is no slouch.  The key drivers are the Appellation (AVA) and vineyard designation that are important to buyers.

sonoma, real estate, vineyard, luxury, luxury estate, vineyard estate, property, healdsburg, sebastopol, sonoma, david ashcraft, vintroux, vintroux real estate

Real Estate Conditions

sonoma, sonoma county, appellations, ava, russian river, alexander valley, sonoma valley, sonoma coast, dry creek valley, rockpile, petaluma gap

Sonoma County American Viticultural Areas (Appellations)

Russian River AppellationSonoma Coast AppellationAlexander Valley AppellationDry Creek Appellation
Green Valley AppellationSonoma Valley AppellationSonoma Mountain AppellationBennett Valley Appellation
Knights Valley AppellationRock Pile AppellationWest Sonoma CoastSonoma Carneros Appellation
Chalk Hill AppellationPine Mountain Cloverdale Peak Appellation

Sonoma County Real Estate Values

Vineyards$60,000 - $125,000 / Acre
Plantable Land$35,000 - $85,000 / Acre
Site (Home / Winery)$0 -$3,100,000

Napa County

The world famous Napa Valley continues to consistently deliver the highest market prices by far.  Both wineries and luxury real estate seekers are scrambling to find their piece of the valley.  Cabernet is still king.

napa, napa valley, saint helena, oakville, ruhterford, cabernet, cabernet sauvignon, real estate, vineyard, vineyard estate, luxury, luxury estate, david ashcraft, vintroux, vintroux real estate, diamond mountain, howell mountain, atlas peak

A map of the different Napa Valley Appellations

For our purposes and to better understand the Napa Valley real estate market, the Napa Valley is divided into three sections: Prime Napa Valley, Secondary Napa Valley, and Outlying Napa ValleyAn important note, some Secondary areas demand Prime Napa Valley prices due to the unique Area Specific and quality coming from that particular vineyard.  We will get into the details below.

napa, napa valley, yountville, oakville, rutherford, real estate, property, wine, cabernet sauvignon, property, david ashcraft, vintroux, vintroux real estate

Three segments of the Napa Valley

Prime Napa Valley Appellations

Saint Helena AppellationRutherford AppellationOakville Appellation
Stags Leap AppellationDiamond Mountain AppellationSpring Mountain Appellation
Howell Mountain Appellation

Prime Napa Valley Appellation Values

Vineyards$200,000 -$320,000+ / Acre
Plantable Land$100,000 - $190,000+ / Acre
Site (Home / Winery)$1,000,000$5,000,000

Secondary Napa Valley Appellations

Calistoga AppellationYountville AppellationOak Knoll Appellation
Coombsville AppellationMount Veeder AppellationAtlas Peak Appellation
Wild Horse Valley AppellationNapa Carneros Appellation

Secondary Napa Valley Appellation Values

Vineyards$100,000 - $220,000+ / Acre
Plantable Land$50,000 - $100,000+ / Acre
Sites (Home / Winery)$250,000 - $1,000,000+

Outlying Napa Valley Appellations

Chiles - Pope ValleyAmerican Canyon

Outlying Napa Valley Appellation Values

Vineyards$50,000 - $100,000+ / Acre
Plantable Land$25,000 - $50,000+
Sites (Home / Winery)$0 - $350,000+

And there you have it, a quick look into the building blocks of wine country real estate.  This is a fun, intriguing market and an even more interesting place to live.  If you have any questions or thoughts I would certainly like to hear from you.  Cheers!

Buyers Compete In Sellers Market, Spring 2017

So what are the current real estate values in wine country? The latest information shows continued price increases across the board. Even the median home price in Sonoma County has doubled in the last five years.... Read more

Things That Make Wine Country Awesome

Let’s focus on the positive. After more than a year of the most bizarre political theater in memory, it is time to put the circus back in the tent… at least for a moment. Your sanity will thank you. ... Read more

January 2015 – Trends, Insights & Analysis

In this edition we will touch on vineyard sales, an overseas buyer update, the 2014 crop, the drought and ways to conserve water, the winery market and permit challenges, a spot check (RRV), 1031 Exchange quick reference, and a few other interesting tid bits. Let’s get started!... Read more

Spring 2014 Newsletter – A healthy real estate market continues in wine country, higher grape prices, balanced supply and demand, and much, much more…

There’s a lot that can be said about last year starting with a brisk and healthy real estate environment,an improving economy and serious stockmarket advances. Closer to home it can be said that 2013 was a good year, 2013 was a big year, and 2013was a year where California crushed 4.23 million tons of wine grapes and prices held steady. So far,2014 is looking good too. In Napa and Sonoma Counties, the same goes for the sale of vineyards,vineyard estates and wineries. Buyers are interested.... Read more

August 2013 Newsletter – More Than Your Typical Harvest In Wine Country

As we are approaching the harvest of 2013 it is very clear that wine country is experiencing more than the annual flurry of harvest activities. Recent headlines in the media have documented the renewed interest in wine country real estate from lifestyle buyers and continued interest from industry players. Market activity is brisk and there is not enough quality inventory. Numerous high profile winery, vineyard and estate sales have taken place.... Read more

The Vineyard Economic Symposium

My clients have their noses to the grindstone, wanting to make artisan wines, as they gently press the juice from each tiny little grape, Today’s audience concerned with gently squeezing the profit from each investment of vineyard property.... Read more

The Economics of Ag Land

As grapegrowers, we believe this is a time to recognize the County’s successes that have resulted from its commitment to preserving ag land. ... Read more

So where exactly is wine country?

So where exactly is wine country? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard friends say that they are heading up to “Napa” for the weekend when they very well know that they are going to Healdsburg in northern Sonoma County. ... Read more

Fall in Wine Country

Fall in wine country is one of the most enjoyable times of year for a number of reasons. Gorgeous weather with warm days, cool nights and spectacular sunsets. The harvest is finishing up and leaves are changing colors. ... Read more

Drought Busting Deluge

With this years drought busting deluge of rainfall in Northern California, lets consider why a visit to wine country might not be bad idea.... Read more

Napa and Sonoma Wine Grape Prices 2016

As we keep moving headlong through Spring 2016 the final numbers for the 2015 harvest are in. More of a confirmation than producing any major surprises: Grape Prices Are UP…. Again!... Read more

Fall In Wine Country

Fall In Wine Country, Fall is a wonderful time of year as we begin to truly experience the change from summer heat towards mild temperatures... Read more

Looks like rain, maybe

Looks like rain, maybe - Napa and Sonoma wine country, California for that matter, has been waiting for an end to this four year dry spell... Read more