Thursday, July 3, 2008

Let's talk winery real estate

Lynn and Fred Hunter were living in Philly around the time of the bicentennial when they purchased a parcel in York County and planted five acres of grape vines, according to their
Seven Valleys Vineyard & Winery site. They spent weekends commuting over to the farm, located in the rolling hills just outside what was then a very rural Shrewbury, to tend to those vines. As someone who commuted daily from York to Philly to work at the Daily News, I know that ride with my eyes closed. Course, when they made the trip, gas was probably around a buck a gallon.

Their first harvest netted about three tons of grapes. For almost two decades they sold their grapes to other wineries, according to their Web site. That changed when the winery was opened in 1994. A member of the Uncork York tour that’s held in March and a member of the currently inactive – but soon to be regenerated – Mason Dixon Wine Trail, they now produce 15 wines. I’ve sampled one at Uncork in 2007, the Chardonnay, one of a mix of dry whites and reds to sweet and dessert wines. All are sold either on the premises or at one of their two stores, along Antique Row in Shrewsbury and also over in Gettysburg.

I’ve not been able to reach them to talk about the 30 years of growing grapes, but I can tell you that the winery has been for sale at an asking price of $3 million, according to the
listing. Anyone stopping out to view first will need to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Carolyn Schoettler told me the other day that the winery has been on the market for about a year and a half. She said there has been a great deal of interest, some generated off a site I never knew existed called, which links to wineries for sale internationally. She noted that the eoncomic market has made prospective buyers a bit hesitant, and also said they backed off the past six onths while pondering an agricultural easement. While the Hunters, she said, are trying to make the purchase as easy as possible, they’re also working outside the home and maintaining the business and its 25 employees. The sale will come when it comes. It’s not just the winery, including the 15 acres of planted grapes. It’s land that also includes the retail store, aging room, tasting room and kitchen. As Schoettler noted, there’s a lot of extras including the 79-plus acres, so that has increased the price.

If you’re interested in just tasting the wine and getting a glimpse of the site, the winery will be open tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, those in the Brandywine Valley are familiar with Folly Hill, a
bed and breakfast and limited winery in Kennett Square, Pa. It’s a former member of that wine trail and has been up for sale at a listing price of $1.25 million at least as far back as last summer. That sale was consummated recently, although listing agent Eliot Dalton said in an e-mail that he wouldn't be able to name the new owners, what they paid, or what their plans are for the buildings and seven acres. It includes a restored 200-year-old home, a stone cottage, a recently renovated bank barn that houses the winery and tasting room, and a large storage barn. A total of 4,000 grapevines cover approximately four acres.