Cathy Bussewitz, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The top three owners of vineyard land in Sonoma County — Jackson Family Wines, E&J Gallo and Silverado Premium Properties — largely began their buying sprees in the 1980s, when vineyards cost half the price of what they sell for today.
Their demand for premium grapes would help drive up land prices as they targeted top vineyards and undeveloped land to plant new vines.
Today, the three companies own about 8,800 acres planted to grapes, according to a Press Democrat analysis of county property tax records. The vineyards, buildings and equipment on that land have an assessed value of $436 million, although the actual market value is likely far higher.
Their vision of the future — and their access to capital — drove an expansion that has helped turn Sonoma County into a global brand.