Buying a farm in Virginia Archive

How to Plan Your Dream Vineyard

As evidenced by the many wineries that dot the area, the land in central Virginia has great potential for farming wine grapes. Virginia Wine writes on their website that “The eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge and the rolling countryside to the east offer excellent topography, fertile granite-based clay soil and a growing season of over 200 days.” There are 72 vineyards and wineries in this area alone. Yet ample land for sale in central Virginia simply awaits the establishment of the next great vineyard. At 726 square miles, Albemarle County is just a bit short of Napa Valley’s 748 square miles, which is home to over 500 wineries.

Vineyard 2

So if you’ve ever dreamt of starting your own vineyard in central Virginia, you’re in luck. This year the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) released a Vineyard Financial Calculator. The VCE writes, “This tool’s intended user is an individual or organization exploring the financial requirements of vineyard establishment and operation in Virginia.” This very helpful tool, created by Tremain Hatch, Peter Callan, and Tony Wolf, is exactly what you need to calculate the expenses involved in establishing a vineyard in central Virginia.

How It Works

The Excel spreadsheet contains a “Calculator” tab that prompts the user to input information specific to their business plan, such as the number of planted acres, the width of the rows of grape vines, the crop produced per foot, the hours of labor per acre, and the cost of capital. The spreadsheet is already equipped with formulas which will then calculate your cash flow. Within the “Trellis” tab you can calculate the cost of installing a trellis and fencing to protect your crop from wildlife, such as deer. Don’t know what equipment you’ll need? No problem. In the “Equipment” tab you’ll find an informative table with detailed information regarding equipment necessary to maintain a vineyard. Here you will need to again consider the size vineyard you’re imagining. Then decide on the appropriate equipment for your intended acreage and enter the corresponding pricing in the prepared calculator. The “hours of use” graph at the bottom of the page helps estimate the expected lifespan of your equipment. The carefully crafted formulas will then calculate both your capital expenditures for equipment and your annual fixed cost for equipment based on industry standards of maintenance and wear and tear.

Finally, once you’ve outlined your dream vineyard, tailoring the tool to work for you, you have the satisfaction of seeing how your vineyard will turn out. The “Budget” tab includes fields linked to information you have entered in other tabs and calculates your revenue and cash flow. The “Net Present Value” tab peers ahead into the future and calculates when you would begin to see a profit. And the “Sensitivity Analysis” tab illustrates how your profit might vary based on fluctuations in crop yield and price.

Vineyard 3

If you’ve long dreamed of owning a vineyard in central Virginia, now you have the means to begin seriously planning the logistics. And when you’re ready to consider properties in the area where you might like to establish your dream and plant those first few seeds, contact Gayle Harvey Real Estate and we’ll be happy to help.

To learn more about what is entailed in establishing a winery in central Virginia, read our blog post here. For information on business license requirements in central Virginia, click here.

Buying a Horse Farm in VA?

 

Admit it, you’ve dreamed about owning horses since you were a kid and buying a horse farm in VA! Or maybe you haven’t, but you’ve had to explain to your son or daughter why Santa can’t fit a pony in his sleigh. Or maybe you’ve come into more land than you know what to do with, and you want to start your very own horse farm. Regardless, we’re here to help! Central Virginia is a great place for horse farms; the sprawling pastures and rolling uplands are well-suited to the rigors of horse-rearing. And rigors there will be; it’s not the easiest thing to get into, but with a little hard work and careful planning, it can be a very fulfilling endeavor! So let’s get started!

Land

It may sound obvious, but it’s worth saying that land is one of the first and most important components of owning a horse farm. Indeed, the amount of land one needs to operate and maintain a horse farm is often underestimated. The Virginia Cooperative Extension recommends at least 2-3 acres of grazing land per horse, and that’s with good, efficient pasture management.

What exactly are you buying and what are you getting for your money? Obviously, the land you’re buying must be zoned for agricultural use. Are you looking into buying a pre-existing horse farm? If the land you’re considering was already used for horse farming, you can assume that zoning is in order, but the previous owners could have been grandfathered in, so always check.

And what about the existing infrastructure? Is there a barn? Are the horse-farming resources in good working condition? If you’re building your own infrastructure (like arena, stables, etc.) determine which way the water flows and avoid building in wet areas or areas where water settles. It would be wise to walk around the property after a heavy rain and identify the places where water collects. Remember not to get too attached to one plot. Sometimes it’s easier to start fresh than to renovate and repair.

Barn

Stable1280x960The barn is the central nervous system of any horse farm, so this is definitely an area in which you must invest money and careful consideration. If you’re building your own barn, avoid low-lying areas (like the bottom of a hill), because runoff from rain and snow can weaken your foundation. It helps to use the center of the barn to store supplies like food, hay, and bedding. Storing hay in the center where there are multiple points of entry helps with rotation.

Breathe. See how good that felt? Ventilation is one of, if not the most important consideration when it comes to the structure of a barn. You need fresh airflow, especially with horses urinating and defecating inside the barn, not to mention the fact that the bedding gets pretty dusty. It helps to have multiple entrances to the barn, at least one on either end.

Va Horse Farms for SaleThe commonly-accepted size for a horse stall is 12 square feet; big enough for a horse to lay down, stand, and turn around comfortably, but small enough to clean and maintain. Rubber mats are a good call for the floor of the barns. They make cleanup easier, and they’re more comfortable for the horses themselves. If you’re going to install these, make sure you do it before the horses move in, so that the ground is still relatively even. Consider getting stall doors that open up on the top halves, or just an open stall with a stall guard. Wood or mesh work great.

It’s great to have automatic waterers but they also make it difficult to determine how much water your horse is drinking. Automatic waterers shave time off of your labor expenditure and you will guarantee that your horses have access to a consistent supply of fresh drinking water. If you opt for manual waterers/hydrants, make sure you take measures to prevent them from f reezingin the colder months. It’s nice to be able to access a feed bucket with ease, so consider a swing-out parcel with a bucket attached. Many people line the bottom of their feed buckets with metal, to prevent rodents.

So there you have some tips. Everyone has a different vision for her or his farm, and hopefully this little guide has helped you flesh out yours. There are few places better-suited to equestrian pursuits and horse farming than central Virginia! Contact us to have an experienced horse farm agent help you locate the horse farm or land that is best suited for your needs.

Buying a Farm in Virginia

Farms in Virginia for SaleThe area around Charlottesville is fertile ground for agricultural ventures, due in large part to the number of restaurants and the emphasis on locally sourced food. The farm-to-table aesthetic is a governing principle for many restaurants in the Charlottesville area, and proves to be mutually beneficial to both the farms and restaurateurs involved. The restaurants get fresh, tasty produce and livestock from next door, and the farmers have a readily-available market for their products. It’s never been a better time to be a farmer in the area…there’s both plenty of land available and a huge, always eager customer base. With regards to the distribution aspect, there’s the community supported agriculture (CSA) route, or the use of distribution services like Local Food Hub. The former allows farmers to sell their wares to consumers directly, at the beginning of the growing season, giving them access to revenue they wouldn’t get until harvest season. Once harvest rolls around, consumers receive produce periodically at discounted prices, fresh off the vine. Local Food Hub is a non-profit organization that partners Virginia farmers with distributors, schools, and restaurants with a hankering for local food.

Central Virginia’s topography, relatively mild climate, and various levels of elevation make it an ideal location for a variety of agricultural pursuits. There are a number of horse and cattle farms in the area, due in large part to the abundance of wide open pastures. The central Virginia region, with its hills and valleys, warm, robust climate, and distinctive soil, has a certain kind of terroir. A French word, terroir refers to the combination of climate, soil quality, and elevation that make a region suitable for wine cultivation. While California has long been recognized as the country’s wine capital, Virginia (central Virginia in particular) has attracted a low-key following as an underrepresented but formidable wine state. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Virginia is the 6th highest wine producer in the country. In 1990 the state had fewer than 50 wineries…now it has over 250. The sloping uplands and wide pastures make the region a promising, potentially untapped wine haven. Some wines, like vermentino or Cabernet Sauvignon are better suited to the hot, occasionally humid summers of Virginia. In general, the warmer climate of Virginia is similar to the Mediterranean weather of southern Italy. These climates tend to produce full-bodied, fruity wines that are higher in alcohol content.

It’s important to know what you want out of your land and what you want your land to do for you. Having a vision helps us find the perfect piece of property for you, and recognizing the necessary steps will help foster success no matter what the venture. Many of the same terroir considerations that can make or break a vineyard venture are relevant when choosing land for an orchard. In both instances, you need a certain amount of elevation, and good air drainage for your chosen crops. For horse and cattle farms, a plethora of wide open acreage is a must, and you need fencing or the ability to install some fencing infrastructure. Is there a good, reliable source of water for your livestock, and do you have (or have plans to install) a separate sewage system? How about accessibility? You’ll need a good way for incoming or outgoing deliveries, whether it be a few tons of hay coming in or a few yearlings going out. If you’re thinking about buying a farm in central Virginia, you’ve made a wise choice in considering one of the most versatile, multifaceted regions in the country. Now all it takes is fine-tuning that vision and picking the plot of land that reflects your goals. And you don’t have to do it alone.  Browse our Virginia farms for sale at www.centralvirginiahorsefarms.com, www.charlottesvillehorsefarm.com, or www.cattlefarmsinvirginia.com, and start your search today! Gayle Harvey Real Estate has farm listings from Culpeper County south to Amherst and from Louisa County as far west as Rockbridge and Augusta counties.