How does this sound to you? If you're a winegrower anywhere in the United States you can donate your vineyards to a local land trust (a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping land free from commercial development) before January 1, 2007, continue to work the land for as long as you and your heirs want to, all the while deducting potentially up to 100% of your Adjustable Gross Income from your taxes for the next fifteen years.
Yes, that's right. Make a commitment that your vineyard will never be turned into condos or a luxury resort and potentially you can pay no taxes for fifteen years.
Sometimes, it's a pretty darn good deal to be a winegrower. (Actually, this bill, HR4 that was recently signed into law as a rider on recent pension legislation , applies to all agricultural and livestock farmers).
Without getting into the pros and cons of such tax breaks for farmers and ranchers (am I jealous? Hell yeah) this certainly seems like a golden opportunity to keep some of America's wine country protected from commercial development.
Andy Beckstoffer is perhaps the first person, and certainly the first winegrower, to take advantage of this legislation. He has donated his famous To Kalon vineyard to the Land Trust of Napa County. To Kalon is one of California's most famous single vineyards, and by creating what is known as a Conservation Easement of the property, Beckstoffer is ensuring that it never becomes a parking lot.
Which is a pretty awesome thing, and which I'm sure some Bordeaux winegrowers wish they had at their disposal given the recent uproar at the plans to tear up some Margaux vineyards to make room for a trans-European highway
So how does this work, exactly? It's really quite simple. If you are an individual farmer (not a corporation) who makes more than 50% of your living from agriculture, you can donate an unlimited amount of your agricultural land (and/or historic buildings) to a conservation group (usually a land trust) and then you get to deduct the "fair market value" of that land for fifteen years, up to 100% of your adjusted gross income. And if you're a winegrower in Napa or Sonoma county, that "fair market value" is likely to be quite a tidy sum.
Unless extended by congress, the window of opportunity to make such donations is only until the end of the year. Here are some of the vineyards Iwould like to see preserved forever off the top of my head:
All of Spring Mountain
Hirsch Vineyard, Mendocino
Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros
Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Ritchie Vineyard, Sonoma
Three Palms Vineyard, Napa
Chabot Vineyard, Napa
Martha's Vineyard, Napa
The Original Grandpere Vineyard, Amador
Bucklin Old Hill Ranch, Sonoma
Got any to add? Call your favorite winegrower.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 4, 2015 Vinography Images: A Shaggy Guardian Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 26, 2015 Vinography Images: Above the Coast 2015 Seven Percent Solution Tasting: May 6, San Francisco Imagining a Better Future for the Soils of Champagne A Brief Video Lesson in Champagne Disgorgement Vinography Images: The World of the Leaf Book Signing on May 9th, at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Doorman: Changing My Wine Delivery Life
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune