New Foreclosure Nightmare: California Vineyards


Stucco housing tracts, evil investment banks, ugly big-box retail strips, dumb show-off high-rises, land-raping golf resorts, Hummers -- the nation's financial collapse has taken down so many awful trophies of American Culture, we should probably send it a Thank You note, maybe with a Linens 'n Things gift card. But who can afford a card, or postage, when we're all either out of work or making a lot less money or barely hanging on to some diseased sham of a career that probably never should've been a career anyway? What is next for this nation's Shame Parade? Foreclosures of Napa vineyards and wineries, that's what.

The Bloomberg Terminal reports:

In California’s Napa Valley, producer of the most expensive U.S. wines, 2010 may be a vintage year for foreclosures as the industry is squeezed by falling land values and a consumer shift to cheaper brands ....

More than 30 wineries are for sale in California, Oregon and Washington, the most ever, according to Rob McMillan, executive vice president and founder of the wine division of Silicon Valley Bank, a unit of SVB Financial Group in Santa Clara, California. The properties have too much debt, were new arrivals to the wine market or have owners who are looking to retire as competition rises and profit margins fall, he said.

Some Napa land deals that were never publicly disclosed or confidentially recorded at the county assessor will unravel this year and in 2011.

The best selling wine in America is the "Franzia Box," made by a Central California industrial winery. But for a few weird years, people with more money than they ever deserved were dropping $500 or $750 a bottle for "cult wines" because, well, they are stupid, tacky people. Also, they could afford it. But no longer.

The definition of "decent bottle of wine" has dropped for all of us, with a 15% decline in sales of over-$30 wines and a 10% decline in bottles over $15.

And that is your wine-foreclosure report for this day in 2010. Soon you'll be making "prison beer" with orange peel in milk cartons, in jail. [Bloomberg]


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