Vineyards: A Labor of Love

tuscanvineyardAbove: Tuscan Vineyard in Chianti, Italy

     Most people dream of having their own vineyard on their estate, and for many luxury homebuyers that dream is being turned into a reality. Many known celebrities own vineyards and wineries. Like with any business, it offers great tax benefits and the challenge of starting a new enterprise. Other celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Kate Moss, and David Beckham to name a few own vineyards for their personal use.

DeppEstateAbove: Johnny Depp recently listed his 37 acre French estate (basically an entire small village) near Tropez for 16.5 Million. Depp’s estate includes a vineyard on the ground, a wine-tasting cave, and an authentic Provencal village restaurant and bar.

     Vineyard properties around the world are becoming the latest must-have accessory in Luxury. For many lifestyle buyers, the scenery that a vineyard offers is a classic view and rustic feel. It also reaps numerous other lifestyle benefits such as a much needed change to the buyers everyday routine and getting to reap what you sew and drink the fruits of your labor, literally. But for many of these buyers, the prime real estate that comes along with a vineyard as equally as important as the vines themselves.

     While all of these benefits sound appealing, there are many factors to consider such as where to buy and the level of involvement needed to care for the vineyards once purchased. Investing in fine wine is one thing, but diving in heads on and investing in vineyards is a whole other story.  To some it is a ‘one up’ to the traditional wine investment, but it typically requires a larger amount of capital to get up and running.

     For many the price of the land merely the starting point. Other typical expenses can include establishing and maintaining the vines, harvest labor, machinery and fuel, and distribution (bottling and labeling if its for personal consumption). For example, in Napa Valley, where there is a shortage of fine grapes and acre prices can reach up to $300,000 per acre, the start up costs to get a boutique vineyard up and running can approach $2 Million.

     Buyers should keep in mind how hands on they want to get when seeking a vineyard, since the monetary return on investment is not as lucrative as common stocks or bonds (although typically safer), it truly has to be a labor of love. 

    Some of the aforementioned celebrities, such as David Beckham and Brad Pitt, employ a team to deal with production. This leaves them with the benefit of consuming the end result, but it is for good reason. Operating a functioning vineyard is extremely time consuming and requires a lot of hard work. However, for many owners it is a new and refreshing hobby, that can potentially turn into a profitable business. Other owners simply like to have their own brand of wine to share with family and friends, and the reward of seeing others enjoy your wine and something you crafted and produced is highly rewarding.

     All things considered, the rise of purchases in boutique vineyards in areas like Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Champagne, Northeast US, and Southeast England has spiked over the last few years.

Highlighted below are some of the most luxurious vineyard properties currently on the market around the world:

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6175 Oregon Road, Cutchogue, NY – $7,500,000 USD

This rare waterfront estate comprises a classic farmstead with 1860s farmhouse, two-story barn with modern poolhouse, pool and detached art/exercise studio, along with 32 acres of preserved farmland, including a 5+ acre vineyard.

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5580 Alpine Road, Santa Rosa, California – $11,000.000 USD

Spanish/Mediterranean View Estate & Winery. 120 ac +/- Two story 11545 sq.ft villa with 5 plus bedrooms, overall prop sq. ft is about 16,000 sq. ft+/- with 9 bedrooms, 9 full bath rooms and three half bath rooms. Perfect for conferences & weddings, 3 offices in addition/master suite, large living & dinning room, media room, full gym, fully landscaped, second unit, original three bedroom farmhouse with winery. Wine label, 100+ guests for weddings.

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La Rochelle, Atlantic Coast, France – $5,400,000 USD

This magnificent equestrian property of 15,6 ha is comprised of a beautiful south Louisiana style house of 220 m² (6 bedrooms/bathrooms) with swimming pool, an outbuilding of 30.2 m² used as a superb summer dining room (with BBQ), an amazing 100 m² apartment (1 bedroom) with terrace overlooking the property, a 52 m² independent guest house and various outbuildings including a horse stable (18 boxes, 4 showers, a saddle room, 2 staff apartments), an outdoor and an indoor arenas, a top-notch horse walker and a big hay storage barn. The property is surrounded by top quality land fenced in paddocks with water in each paddock (the property has its own private water supply).

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Tuscan Chianti Estate, San Casciano In Val Di Pesa, Italy – $18,000,000
This magnificent estate encompasses 1,900 square meters, or more than 20,000 square feet of living space surrounded by five hectares, or nearly 12 acres of land. There are two luxurious private villas, three atelier apartments, and a historic dwelling, Fatoria Marzocco, which offers four apartments. The estate’s stylish interiors have been carefully renovated by local artisans using the finest Tuscan materials, which bring a quintessentially Italian feel.

Photo Courtesy: theguardian.com, mansionsglobal.com, christiesrealestate.com

Tesla: Bringing Together Luxury and the Green Initiative

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In November of 2016, Elon Musk, Tesla Motors Inc Chief Executive finally won approval from shareholders to purchase SolarCity Corp, the largest manufacturer and installer of solar panels. Tesla began taking orders for its new solar roofing at the beginning of April, below is a little history of how this came to be and what we can expect from here.

Musk first made his attempt on the acquisition in August of 2016, but was met with some resistance from fellow shareholders due to his majority holding in the company, and the fact that his cousin, Lyndon Rive, is SolarCity’s founder. But after a few months of planning and revisiting, Tesla was met with an 85% approval rating this time around.

By making SolarCity a wholly owned subsidiary of Tesla, Musk continues to pave the way to turn  Tesla stores into one-stop shopping emporiums for socially conscious consumers. Customers would be able to purchase solar panels, Powerwall or Powerpack electricity storage units, and choose from the growing fleet of electric vehicles. Musk wants to make the process seamless and pleasurable for the customer, where they can walk into the store and “Just say yes.”

Traditionally, the Tesla brand has only been associated with Luxury travel, with its model S and X sedans eclipsing the $100,000 mark. But with the launch of its new Model 3, and the manufacturing of Solar Panels, Musk is steering the brand towards an all-in-one name associated with an elevated, affordable lifestyle. This move fits his ever-expanding vision of the company, which includes SpaceX, a rocketry startup that intends to one day colonize Mars.

Musk’s move to acquire SolarCity solidifies the once uncertain future of renewable energy for homeowners. In the past, even with government subsidies and the option to sell your power back to the grid, the industry hadn’t truly taken flight. Musk is confident that there are many inefficiencies in the solar energy system that he can exploit and through Tesla’s uniquely designed solar panels, the main objective he can overcome is cost. Tesla’s solar roof is actually cheaper than a traditional roof, and when used in combination with the company’s electricity storage units, can completely power your home and sustain it through power outages.

Below some of the neat features of both the Powerwall and the Solar Roof are outlined.

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Tesla’s solar roof is able to convert solar energy into electricity and seamlessly integrates with Powerwall battery to power your home with a completely sustainable energy system. It is also extremely affordable, costing less than a comparable roof before the projected utility savings. The panels are also invisible to the naked eye, from the street they appear as a normal roof, but from above the solar cells are fully exposed to the sun, powering your home in the cleanest way possible. There are also 4 options for the roofing panels; smooth glass, textured glass, slate glass, and Tuscan glass. All of the options are aesthetically pleasing, versus some of the current solar options out there.

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What is a Powerball battery you may ask? It is a reliable power source for your home that provides backup power during outages or natural disaster. Batteries are compact, stackable, and contain a built-in inverter. The inverter allows the Powerwall to seamlessly integrate with Tesla solar and self-power your home. Any surplus energy produced by the solar panels is stored within the Powerwall to power your home at night. Powerwalls are touch-safe, with no exposed wires or hot vents, stackable, and weather-proof for indoor or outdoor installation.

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To take it one step further, homeowners can manage and monitor the Powerwall, solar panels, and Tesla Model S and X electrical vehicles all with the Tesla app from virtually anywhere.

These offerings from Tesla add a sleek look to any Luxury home and integrate seamlessly with your lifestyle. As mentioned in our previous post, ‘going green’ is a focus of every major company. Tesla is leading the way by capturing the conscious consumer with innovative and eco-friendly offerings.

Photos courtesy of: Tesla.com

7 Green Features for Luxury in 2017

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When you typically think of a ‘green’ consumer, the first image that comes to mind is probably one of an estranged friend or family member that lives in the mountains, eats granola, and recycles everything.

This is no longer the case as basically every company is putting all it’s efforts into reducing their carbon footprint. If a company wants the conscious consumer’s business, it has to be mindful of the consumer’s priorities and anticipate the need for social responsibility in a purchase. By making the ‘green’ aspect part of the marketing strategy, companies can capture the consumers sense of social responsibility around this issue while creating sustainability for their brand in this new market.

When it comes to luxury homes, traditionally homeowners may think that ‘going green’ means having to sacrifice or go without certain amenities. In fact, the opposite is true; we have seen modern, trendy, and luxurious homes around the world sport some of the newest ‘green’ initiatives. Below are a few trends we have seen dominate the industry.

  1. Sustainable & Locally Sourced Materials.

Long before the international supply chain of materials existed, builders were forced to use locally sourced materials such as wood, stone, and clay to construct houses. We are seeing a resurgence in this practice, as it significantly reduces the carbon footprint by choosing a local distributor for materials versus ordering from across the world. It adds to the local economy while cutting down the supply chain, thus reducing the project’s overall carbon footprint.

2. LED Lighting.

LED lighting is one of the prominent trends in the green initiative. It has been proven that LED lighting is significantly more efficient than the traditional filament bulbs, allowing a home to reduce its carbon footprint without having to worry about leaving the lights on. Recently luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue converted their entire Christmas display to all LED lighting, reducing energy consumption. Saks has changed their entire marketing to fit the green initiative and appeal to its eco-conscious consumers. Philips, one of the leading names in lighting, has been ahead of this curve and even has gone as far to develop soft cell LED lighting, which can be added to any room or area of the house without the need for any outlets.

3.LEED Certification.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification is a certification from the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes a project’s efficiency standards. It is a point based system, the more sustainable features the project has, the more points it receives. It is currently one of the fastest growing trends in the real estate marketing, racking in $55 Million in 2015 and projecting to climb to $100.4 Million by 2018. It is also estimated that by then, more than 84% of residential construction will have sustainable features.

4.Solar Panels.

Solar energy has come along way the last few years. Now companies like Tesla have completely hopped on the solar initiative. Recently, Elon Musk and Tesla purchased SolarCity, the largest manufacturer and installer of solar panels. The goal is to make Tesla stores a one-stop shop eventually, where consumers can purchase solar panels, Powerwall electricity storage, and choose from the growing feel of electric vehicles.

In addition to the numerous energy saving benefits, the SolarCity/Tesla panels are actually more cost efficient than a traditional roof and don’t sacrifice on style either. The traditional solar panels can be visual eye sores on a roof, but the new panels are disguised as a shingle or tile and seamlessly integrate into a roof.

5. Private Eco Reserves.

In addition to the LEED Certification and other sustainable practices, green homeowners can take it one step further by curating their own private eco reserves. It adds the adventure aspect of nature right into the comfort of your own home.

One celebrity who practices this religiously is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Johnson loves fishing and grew up being conscious of his environmental footprint, so he converted the pond behind his house into his own bass fishing haven. He has been growing the fish there since birth, and even has scientist come in to test the water levels for ph balance and bacteria. He can still enjoy his lifelong hobby while in the comfort of his home and without causing any harm to the environment.

6. Vegetable Gardens.

With the demand for organic produce on the rise, vegetable gardens have become a staple of many luxury homes & estates. It brings a new meaning to ‘farm-to-table’ and also reduces the carbon footprint of the homeowners. It provides fresh air, natural scents, healthy soil, and delicious dining options.

7. Green Roofs or Walls.

Piggybacking off the trend of vegetable gardens, this is a widely adopted trend adds components of naturally efficient, energy saving practices and aesthetic beauty. Some luxury homes even go as far to incorporating vegetable gardens and orchards into the green roofs or walls. Green roofs can also help cool your home, absorbing more sunlight and diverting it away from other areas of the property.

Photo courtesy of: Guza Architecture

Castles® Luxury Index for 2017

deldiospoolView this year’s index and the index of years before now.

As the year kicks off for 2017, various luxury items are compiled to showcase the index for the year. The index is a base point of comparison that derives from the average price of all the top, most expensive items within a category and is then divided by one million.

Continue reading

Beachfront Estate in Turks and Caicos

Point House rests on the northern beach of Parrot Cay boasting 5 bedrooms over 7,000 square feet of luxury living space. Bordering the pristine Nature Reserve, Rocky Point, Point House enjoys solace and serene privacy. Not far away are the COMO Parrot Cay award-winning resort amenities and facilities. Continue reading

We’re Covering The 2017 Boston Wine Expo

BOSTON, MA – The Boston Wine Expo will be toasting to its 26th anniversary this President’s Day weekend (February 18 and 19, 2017) at the Seaport Hotel World Trade Center. Produced and managed by Conventures, Inc., in collaboration with the Boston Guild of Oenophilists, this winter tradition is one of the country’s biggest celebrations of wine, food and culture. This year’s lineup includes wines from around the world, culinary tastings, Vintners’ Reserve Lounge sessions and VIP experiences, interactive seminars and celebrity chef demonstrations.

Check out the event website, here.