According to a report in North Bay Business Journal, Sonoma County’s 153 acre Bellisimo Vineyard estate has been put into receivership. The vineyard, in Knights Valley, was purchased by a publicly traded Chinese company for $14.75 million in 2008 and includes a 5,300 ft.² house and guesthouses.
Receivership proceedings began just as this year’s harvest was about to begin. China Organic Agriculture Inc is an agricultural company based in north-east China, and it purchased the vineyard with the intention of importing wines to China, borrowing $8.52 million from Transamerica to fund the purchase. On September 14 Transamerica filed a notice of default as no payments have been made since June.
While it may be nothing new for vineyards to go into receivership, it’s certainly unusual for a Chinese company to have financial problems and this is likely to lead to financiers demanding larger collateral or a source of income in the United States, as obviously it’s very difficult to chase a company located in a different country. The lender involved with this particular vineyard certainly didn’t waste any time in taking control of the property, and the court appointed receiver has considerable experience in dealing with the wine industry, and was brought in to ensure revenue could be collected from this year’s harvest. Real estate agents who initially handled the 2008 sale of the vineyard have already talked to the receiver about potential interest from buyers.
Another report in pressdemocrat.com highlights the fact that this vineyard might be approaching the end of its life, and the estimated cost of replanting of vineyard of this size is between $2 million and $3 million. The current value of this property is estimated to be just $7.5 million, according to RealQuest.