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Wineries for sale

Got an extra $10 million stashed under the mattress?

Trying to decide what to do with your inheritance from Uncle Chester?

If you want to acquire a winery with a built-in following, there are a handful available in Southern Oregon.

From dazzling Red Lily Vineyards on the banks of the Applegate River and marketing-savvy Troon Vineyard to stately EdenVale Winery south of Medford and serene Agate Ridge Vineyard outside of Eagle Point, there are multiple vino opportunities. Even more are on the market in the Umpqua Valley.

With new tasting rooms opening, wineries going up and vineyards planted on a regular basis, there is a notion the market could reach saturation. But quality grapes find buyers and winery clusters attract wine tourists.

Wineries sell for any number of reasons, said Applegate Valley wine consultant Liz Wan. Many of the region's vintners got into the business as a retirement hobby, and are ready to move on.

"If the next generation isn't interested, or they realize their expertise and passion are in other areas, they'll be looking for a buyer," Wan said.

Established organizations with stories and charm might have other angles.

"With Jackson Family and others buying into Oregon's boutique wines, it lends itself for people to blue sky pricing, not just here, but around the state," Wan said. "When big players come in and snap up some choice properties, people may be thinking, 'I have choice property or real estate.' So they will put it up for sale and test the markets."

The buzz created when major players acquire Oregon wineries and vineyards ripples throughout the state, she said.

"They could buy estates anywhere in the world, so it really helps our brand," Wan said.

For wineries that build a following, develop outside markets and grow to capacity, there is the inevitable wall.

Mom-and-pop operations can manage to produce 2,000, 5,000, or even 10,000 cases before reaching a crossroads, Wan said. While there is an emotional attachment, financial realities come into play.

"Without a huge capital infusion, they can't get to the next level," she said. "Rather than push the limits and do damage to their artisan wines, they realize their limitations and pass it along to the next regime that can take it to the next level."

That's where Red Lily finds itself, said owner Les Martin, whose property is listed by Christie's International Real Estate for $10 million.

"We don't want to get out of the business, make no mistake about it," Martin said. "In our case, it's a huge property and we're at the point where you have to get to a certain size to make it work from an economic standpoint."

The upfront costs for vines, winery equipment and the need to age wine works against owners.

"We're at a point where we can't take it any further," Martin said. "We're either looking at investment money, or sell and stay on as the manager."

Red Lily first produced wine in 2002 and built its own winery in 2011. The 25 acres devoted to the wine business are dwarfed by the rest of the 268-acre spread that includes two residences.

The venue is as popular as ever, he said, breaking records on its Thursday night concerts.

"We've had some serious discussions with a handful of people," Martin said. "Some have looked promising. It's not like residential property, though, where there are tons of buyers; things move slowly."

Agate Ridge owner Kim Kinderman said the decision to put the winery and vineyard up on the market for $4.9 million was personal, rather than industry-related.

"I would love to see this business going 50 years down the road," Kinderman said, declining further comment.

Troon is listed by Christie's International Real Estate at $7.8 million. Owner Larry Martin, who succeeded founder Dick Troon, was not available for comment.

While vineyard land and grapes are commodities, wineries are a different matter, said Greg Paneitz, one of the owners of Wooldridge Creek Winery in the Applegate.

"Wineries, in many cases, are ideas," Paneitz said. "Something people envision. Do they make business sense? Maybe yes, maybe no. A huge part of it is the brand being bought and sold. Are you buying land? Equipment? The brand idea, or the lifestyle?"

Regional renown is important.

"You know if you are buying in an established region, such as Napa, it's a pretty good bet you're going to sell for this much or that."

Martin, chairman of the Oregon Wine Experience, said the event has attracted attention to the region, but it still hasn't hit the radar for potential clients or winery buyers.

"If we were as well known as the Willamette Valley, I dare say us, Troon and Agate Ridge would've all sold," Martin said. "We're not quite there. We're still trying to get people to discover how incredible it is here; sometime it's going to happen naturally."

 — Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

Wine grapes grow at EdenVale Winery, which is listed at $6.6 million. [Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson]