Real Estate

5 Places to Live if You Love Wine (On Any Budget)

published Mar 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If you’ve ever vacationed in a wine-producing region (known as American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs), you know they’re home to some of the most picturesque landscapes in America. And if you love wine, you’ve probably thought about moving to one of them so you can sip vino surrounded by spectacular views every weekend.

But if you think you have to be one of the well-to-do to live in the area, think again: Living in wine country can actually be pretty reasonable—if you know where to look.

I’ve found five great towns in AVAs with homes available for under $800,000 (as well as affordable rental options). And, of course, I threw in some dream properties for fun, too. Here’s what’s available:

1. Buellton, California (Central Coast AVA)

The beauty of the Central Coast lies in how expansive it is. There’s a town that offers something a little different for every taste. So it’s no surprise that it’s quickly emerging as a new destination for Los Angeles and Orange County residents tired of traffic and high prices.

One particularly up-and-coming city? Buellton—its population grew by 3.79 percent between 2017-18, putting it among the top growing cities in Santa Barbara County. It may be that people are attracted to its median home price of $563,800—which is less than half of the going median in Santa Barbara proper.

However, don’t expect things to stay this way for long: Micah Brady of Sotheby’s International Realty-Santa Ynez Valley Brokerage says that town has seen more urban-dwellers moving into the area to take advantage of the slower pace of life. And because fewer owners are deciding to sell and leave, newcomers are finding themselves in a more competitive market.

High: This three-bed, three-bath charmer, on the market for $1,299,000, comes with rolling views on 20-acres—perfect for roaming with your horses or building an additional home or pool. The land also includes its own tennis court, fenced orchard, and green house.

Medium: What better for wine-lovers than living in a community called “Vineyard Village“? $589,000 can unlock the doors to this three-bed, two-and-a-half-bath condo with fenced-in rear condo. It also has a number of energy-saving features and is right off the 101 Freeway. Per its name, the community is also within two miles of more than 10 different wineries.

Low: Even through all of the growth, these Central Coast communities remain small. Rental options are limited in Buellton, so head 25 minutes west to Lompoc (another great town in the Central Coast AVA) for solid two-bed, one-bath options that start at $1,575/month.

Sonoma, California (Sonoma Valley AVA)

While Napa Valley’s eye-watering real estate prices keep many out of the area, the adjacent Sonoma Valley is also excellent for wine-lovers. According to Zillow, the median home price of $737,400—low compared to Bay Area’s astronomical prices just an hour south.

The views, active lifestyle, and proximity to San Francisco also make Sonoma a steady second home destination for city slickers. And though some homes sat on the market a little longer last year, Erin George of Sotheby’s International Realty Wine Country–East Napa St. Brokerage says she expects 2019 to be very busy because of low interest rates.

High: You can get something like this modern one-bed, one-and-a-half-bath home in Sonoma proper for just under $1 million. It has just enough contemporary style to be relevant in today’s market, but not so much that it seems out of place among its neighbors. Other features include low maintenance grounds and landscaping, and of course, the kitchen has a built-in wine fridge.

One of the best selling points? “It’s a short bicycle ride to a handful of wineries and vineyards,” says listing agent Daniel Casabonne of Sotheby’s-Wine Country Brokerage.

Medium: This $525,000 two-bed, two-bath condo has a functional open floor plan—perfect for all of those forthcoming wine club meetings you’ll host. You’ll especially love showing out the outdoor space to your fellow members, too.

“This unique property has 180-degree views of the Sonoma Valley wine country with a large balcony for al fresco entertaining,” says George, the co-listing agent.

Low: As expected, rentals are more expensive in Sonoma due to the high land values. This quiet one-bed, one-bath does come with some basic amenities (and pool access!), but clocks in at $1,775/month.

New Kent, Virginia (Hampton Roads AVA)

Virginia may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of wine, but the “Mother of States” has a thriving and eclectic vino scene. New Kent sits on the Colonial Virginia Wine Trail, which includes three other nearby towns that provide a good bit of American history along with some great vintages. Plus, with a median home price of $258,200, this Atlantic region is full of affordable homes.

High: Should you need land and dock space for your marine toys, $1.189 million can land you an estate-style property set on a wide lot with 254 feet of waterfrontage.

Medium: Where else can you get an exceptional four-bed, three-bath home situated on 1.15 acres within a private community for $799,000? The 2012 craftsman-style residence has all sorts of top-line finishes and even a natural gas generator for emergency situations.

“The uniqueness of this property is two-fold,” says listing broker Marley E. Numbers of Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate Long & Foster. “It’s located in the historic countryside midway between Richmond and Williamsburg and includes features like 100-year-old heart of pine floors and an outstanding first floor Master Suite.”

Not to play third fiddle, but the private community has its own vineyard, too.

Low: Head 15 minutes down the New Kent Highway to Barhamsville, where the deals continue. You find yourself a traditional Colonial-style five-bedroom, three-bathroom home for under $1,900/month.

Newberg, Oregon (Willamette Valley AVA)

Even though there’s world-class Pinot every few miles, you get plenty for your money in Oregon’s main wine country. Take for example, Newberg, the northern gateway to the Willamette Valley AVA. The town’s median home price is $358,500—about $40,000 lower than the Portland-Vancouver metro area only about 45 minutes away.

High: Just down the road in McMinnville, this 3,559-square-foot estate is a prime example of luxury wine country living. It includes a movie room, RV garage, chef’s kitchen, and pristine landscaping.

Medium: 1802 N College St. is a lovely 1925 remodel on the north side of Newberg near the famous Allison Inn & Spa. The four-bed, three-bath charmer offers a lot of house and a large lot size for $379,000.

“It maintains an era of charm within its architecture while at the same time being complimented by modern updates homebuyers look for,” says Jason Gardner of Hasson Company Realtors, the property’s listing agent.

Low: A newer home like this three-bed, two-and-a-half-bath townhouse is a good option to start a calmer pace of life in the Willamette Valley. It offers great value at $1,895/month and is close to shopping, wineries, and more.

Portsmouth, RI (Southeastern New England AVA)

Rhode Island’s wine scene is a supplementary, but important piece of the overall leisure culture in “The Ocean State.” In Portsmouth, the market is hot, with home values going up 6.7 percent over the past year to a median of $381,600. Zillow predicts another 5 percent increase in the next 12 months, too.

High: Only in Rhode Island can you set up shop in a circa 1750 house that has undergone a perfect modern/classic combo renovation for $1.495 million. Four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms are spread out across 3,106 square feet of quintessential Northeastern living. A modern addition to the home includes a heated office and studio.

“The original 1750 part of the house is a rare find out in this part of the island,” says co-listing agent Kate Kirby Greenman of Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty. “Most of the surviving colonial structures from the pre-Revolutionary War period are grouped in Newport proper close to the harbor.”

She notes that there is a classic equestrian center very near this listing and in the summer, polo is played weekly on nearby fields.

“Boaters, birders, history buffs, athletes, and beach goers all love the area,” she says.

Medium: This four-bed, two-and-a-half-bath colonial farm-style home is just another example of beautiful restorations sweeping across the area. It comes with all sorts of charm and livability for $465,000.

Low: For $1,950/month, you can live on the shoreline in this quaint cottage just 20 minutes from downtown Newport. It offers just enough waterfront for kayaking, paddleboarding, and more.