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Clearing... finally, progress on the ground

Today (Friday, January 17, 2014), I visited our vineyard property near Hillsboro, Loudoun County, VA, and witnessed actual progress on the ground.  Land clearing work has begun.  This project is no longer land searches, legal documents, research, regulation, permits, hope, dreams, and ideas.  We’ve begun actual “real” work.   Dave, our excavator and land clearing contractor, has begun clearing pulpwood trees (too small for timber harvesting) from the property.  After completion of this clearing work, based on efforts by our forester (Dan), the timber companies will arrive and harvest more mature trees for lumber (including, walnut, cherry, 4 types of oak, poplar, ash, and other species).  We’ll retain some of the harvestable timber for use on site in vineyard or winery...

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It takes a team...

Ok, I’ve got land.  I’ve researched applicable regulation and know permits I’ll need to clear the land, plant the vineyard, put in a road, put up initial vineyard buildings, and so on.  I’m applying for permits now.  I’m sure I’ve missed something.  Oh, yeah, the talent. It really takes a team to start a vineyard.  I don’t have all the knowledge, skill, energy, tools and equipment to do everything that’s required in this phase of vineyard establishment. In addition to my soils consultant (Alex) and real estate agent (Jodi), I need a contractor to clear land and build a farm road and parking area (Dave).  I also need a forester (Dan) to help me inventory timber for harvest and sale...

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Regulation

I’ve been spending a lot of time with government over the last few weeks (excluding vacation). To clear land and plant a vineyard, I need a lot of nods from officials at the state and local level. I’m still researching what parts of the federal government I have to genuflect before…but more about that after the shut down ends. By my research (I’m serving as my own counsel so this list will likely grow), I need the following: 2 entrance road permits for logging, farm equipment, and commercial use (vineyard/winery) from VDOT; Location clearance permits from Loudoun County (to clear timber); Farm management and forest management plans/permits to clear timber and plant a vineyard from the VA Soil and Water...

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Sold to the short guy...

On Friday the 13th (of September, 2013), I attended my first live land auction with my vineyard real estate agent (Jodi). An opening bid, and 2 more, later, I walked away somewhat poorer in the bank account but with a contract for 16+ acres of prime vineyard land in the middle of wine country near DC (Route 9, Hillsboro/Purcellville, Loudoun County, VA). Finally, after about 3 years of searching, I’ve acquired land with settlement a short 43 days away. I’m planning timber sales, land clearing, and land use tax management as I write this. Heady times and now the real work begins.

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Land Search Anew

I engaged a very good vineyard consultant (Alex) for THE parcel of land my wife and I have under contract. Preliminary soil samples were good but more detailed mapping and sampling were required before closing. We had to be sure we could grow at least 5 acres of good quality vinifera fruit, build a tasting room/winery, and put in the necessary infrastructure (road, parking, septic/drain field system, deer fence, and equipment shed). After further testing and mapping (by Alex), we determined planting would be limited to a little over 3 acres (about 600 cases) and conventional septic/drain field systems wouldn’t work. The latter means we’d spend 3 or more times the money for waste water treatment thus diminishing the available...

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