Real Estate in the Napa Valley

The dirt inside abandoned vineyards

2013-08-19T20:08:00Z The dirt inside abandoned vineyardsBURT POLSON Napa Valley Register
August 19, 2013 8:08 pm  • 

Many cities across the nation have had problems with abandoned property in the past few years; many still do. Would you believe a multi-million dollar vineyard estate in Napa County has been abandoned?

Napa County is experiencing its first court-ordered takeover of a vineyard property located at 1195 State Lane in Yountville.

Why is there so much attention given to an abandoned vineyard? There are houses and commercial properties in Napa County and across the nation being abandoned.

Quite often municipalities do not get involved until the situation becomes dire. However, neighboring property owners invest more time and materials to mitigate issues and eradicate pests as a result. An abandoned vineyard could pose an agricultural as well as economic threat to the entire valley mostly because of the European Grapevine Moth.

The moth is a federally actionable pest meaning agricultural agencies are required under law to respond and eradicate. Napa County is currently under a state and federal quarantine for the moth.

The State Lane vineyard is not your traditional abandoned property. The estate ended up in foreclosure and the Department of the Agricultural Commissioner has tried everything in attempting to work with the property owner, beneficiary and trustee in maintaining the vineyard and mitigating potential threats of pests.

The vineyard sits overgrown and is not only an eyesore, but a potential harbor of the moth as well as other pests.

Napa County now has a legal right to enter the property and intervene. After an Aug. 16 hearing, the county determined it will proceed with enforcing the order of the superior court and remove the vineyard, said Greg Clark, Napa County assistant agricultural commissioner.

“The fruit and flowers need to be removed, but the vines are so overgrown they would need to be pruned first, this will cost the county about $10,000. Unfortunately, if we go this route there is no guarantee we may not end up having to do this again next year. In order to fully mitigate the threat of pests the vines will be removed if the county gets involved. This way there are no future expenses involved with further mitigation,” said Clark.

“Other vineyard owners were also notified regarding the state of their vines; most are cooperating,” said Clark. These are properties the department of the agricultural commissioner contacted because their vineyard appears to be neglected. The county agricultural department must insure all crops comply with the federal food and agricultural code.

The reasons for neglect are many. The property could be in foreclosure or there could be an out-of-town owner who has not been involved. There could be financial, personal or family issues with an owner preventing him or her from being proactive. Occasionally, you will find some vineyard owners who just don’t know how to farm.

This is the first time the county has had to take legal action against a vineyard owner. The county must maintain people’s rights, but it needs to take action against violators because of the potential for pests that could jeopardize the entire industry.

Do you own a vineyard or live next to one? How has the pest abatement affected you? Let me know your answer, question or suggestion for future articles at burtpolson.com.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM is a commercial real estate adviser with ACRES Real Estate Services, Inc. He has been assisting clients in the sale, leasing and consulting of commercial real estate in the Napa Valley since 1992. He can be reached at 707-254-8000 or burt@acresinfo.com. His blog, Real Estate in the Napa Valley, can be viewed at BurtPolson.com.

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