The Land Report

AG 2019

The Magazine of the American Landowner is an essential guide for investors, landowners, and those interested in buying or selling land. The award-winning quarterly is known for its annual survey of America's largest landowners, The Land Report 100.

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BackGate T odd Renfrew knows his way around a vineyard. Renfrew's clients have bought and sold hundreds of acres under vine in Central and Northern California. But in all his years as a broker, the owner of California Outdoor Properties has never seen anything quite like his $3.3 million Cole Ranch listing. Nor has anyone else. Located about an hour north of Sonoma in Mendocino County, the 150-acre tract has few improvements except for plentiful water and 55 acres planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Riesling. Improvements include care- taker housing and the water works. e only other asset worth mentioning is a document dating back to 1983 from the United States Treasury certify- ing Cole Ranch as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). And get this: Cole Ranch is the only vine- yard in the Ukiah AVA. Some AVAs encompass tens of thousands of acres. Others take in hundreds of thousands and even millions of acres. (e Central Coast AVA alone covers more than 6 million acres between San Francisco and Santa Barbara.) But the Ukiah AVA is limited to a single prop- erty, the one that John Cole planted and nurtured in the last decades of the 20th century. To call his passion project a rarity is an understatement. "It would be highly unlikely for TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) to approve this AVA today," says soil scientist, geologist, and viticulturist Dr. Alan Busacca, professor emeri- tus at Washington State University. An industry authority, Busacca has prepared numerous success- ful AVA petitions. "TTB does not like single-owner AVAs, especially when they are this small," he says. Cole Ranch's status has not gone unnoticed. A host of newspapers and Forbes have picked up the story. Not surprisingly, Renfrew's phone has been ringing off the hook. "We've had calls from wine brokers in New York and Washington, D.C. A brewery owner in Croatia called. So did a real estate company with offices in Bordeaux and Paris. A brewery owner in the Bay Area with four breweries who is looking at getting into wine loves the smallest appellation theme," he says. Renfrew's listings typically take eight months to a year to sell. In all likelihood, Cole Ranch will stand out in this regard, too. Own Your Own AVA Tucked away in Mendocino County, COLE RANCH is more than just 55 acres under vine. It's its very own appellation. BY ERIC O'KEEFE The odds of a single-owner AVA petition being approved today are next to nil. 48 L ANDREP ORT.COM e LandReport | AGRICULTURE 20 19

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