As I scanned headlines in a feed of wine-related news the other day, an ad caught my eye: "Shenandoah Valley Winery," it said. Because the winery wasn't identified, and because it was grouped with several real-estate ads, I wanted to try to figure out which Amador County winery was for sale. I clicked on the tease and was taken to WinerySite.com, which provided a bit more information - 65 acres, $1,995,000 - but no identity. The brief listing, however, included an email link to Ed Keller, a real-estate agent in the Sierra foothills. But before I contacted him, I visited his website, which has an entire section devoted to just vineyards and wineries in the Mother Lode.
I was startled by that section in two respects. For one, it includes far more properties for sale than I ever would have guessed - 21, nearly all of them with existing vineyards, several with wineries. Secondly, many of the prices didn't seem outrageous. If someone were looking to get into the wine business in the foothills, now might be the time to make that leap, given the range of listings and the rebounding economy. I do have to wonder, however, what all these listings say of the state of grape growing and winemaking in the region. Is the area saturated? Is the appellation's standing not growing in esteem and popularity? Or might the number of vineyards and wineries for sale simply indicate that several people simultaneously want to get on with the next phase of their lives?
When I got in touch with Ed Keller, he mentioned that he didn't think the number of vineyard and winery listings is unusually large, given how much the industry has grown in the region over the past 30 years. He also said that people who put wineries up for sale customarily don't want their identity revealed, though sooner or later that will become known, and in some cases actually could help a sale, I'd think. So I never found out the name of the winery and its 65 acres that are on the market for about $2 million.
In looking at photos and reading information on the other listings, however, I have a hunch as to who at least a couple of them are. The "Fair Play vineyard estate" (53 acres of vines, 4,500-square-foot home, $2,495,000) sure looks like it could be part of the Perry Creek Winery site, though the winery itself isn't mentioned. And the "Shenandoah tasting room and home" (1,900-square-foot house, small vineyard, five acres, $995,000) could be popular and ideally situated Bantam Cellars.
And I don't have a clue about this Fiddletown structure, but I sure like the architecture, the fact that 13 of the property's 31 acres are planted to Rhone Valley grape varieties, and that the site is listed for what seems an eager-to-sell $499,000.