Newcomers juice wine land values
April 30, 2006 Democrat & Chronicle
(April 30, 2006) —
Husband-and-wife team Michael Schnelle and Nancy Irelan looked at land in
California and Washington state to start Red Tail Ridge Winery and Rogue
Vineyard. The West Coast couple ended up a bit farther away: on a 34-acre plot
that overlooks Seneca Lake.
They loved the beauty
of the Finger Lakes and the lifestyle of area vintners, and sensed the promise
of the local industry. It was the price, though, that sealed the deal. At
roughly $2,500 an acre for the land, plus the house, the final price tag was
"We wanted to do
this on our own, really, and if we had wanted to do it with investors, we would
have considered other options," said Irelan, 45, a former vice president at
Although undeveloped land in
the Finger Lakes is still plentiful, it's sometimes hard to find. Property
specialists say that prime land is often unlisted.
Brian Hawley, co-owner of Keuka Appraisal
Services Inc., said as soon as property is available, "that probably goes
through the (wine) community pretty quickly."
John Martini of Anthony Road Wine Co. in Penn Yan, Yates County, said finding good land means being a part of the wine buzz.
"When I look for land, I call the people in the area. I know most of the
people in the area," said Martini, who doesn't rely on real estate agents.
It is a seller's market. Marcia Wagner, a real
estate agent, hopes to sell her 17.3-acre property near Seneca Lake with a
sprawling house for $899,000. "I've been getting calls from all over,
including two from California, one from Italy," said Wagner, who is
downsizing to a condo. "Someone could easily plant 14 acres of grapes out
Across from Anthony Road, 20 acres, at $10,000
an acre, received a half-dozen inquiries in its first six days on the
market. "Within the next five years, there will be grapes and a winery on
it," said Jim Moon, an agent with Century 21. "It's probably at the
higher end, but it's still very much fair market value. ... Ten years from now,
we will look back, and say, 'I can't believe in 2006 someone was able to buy
something on this wine trail route, and they only had to pay $10,000 an