Vintage Wine Trust Inc has acquired the 320-acre Matchbook Vineyard in Yolo County, California.

The deal, confirmed yesterday (12 April), will cost Vintage around US$2.2m in cash, with an additional $3.4m earmarked for vineyard development and construction of a winery on the property.

The real estate investment trust, which is focused exclusively on the wine and vineyard industry, made the purchase from Crew Wine Company, majority-owned by John and Lane Giguere.

The Matchbook vineyard is located in California's Dunnigan Hills AVA and features 73.5 acres of varietals planted in 2002 to supply fruit for Crew. The property also has an additional 200 acres of plantable land available.

The property will be leased back to the seller for a term of ten harvest years, with options for the seller to repurchase the property midway through the lease term and at the end of the lease term.

Beginning in September, Vintage will fund the construction of a 10,000 square-foot winery on the property, capable of producing 60,000 cases annually. Construction of the winery is expected to be completed by June next year. Vintage has also agreed to provide up to $2m in construction costs for the winery.

At the option of the seller, Vintage will also fund the development of 70 acres of new vineyard on the property in two phases. Phase I will commence in the spring of 2008 with the planting of 30 acres. Phase II will commence one year later with the planting of 40 acres. Rent on the combined 70 acres of plantings will be deferred during the development period.

"With this transaction, we are not only acquiring an outstanding asset, but also partnering with one of the most respected families in the wine-making industry," said Joseph Ciatti, chairman and CEO at Vintage. "The Gigueres have a long history of successfully developing and managing vineyards in Dunnigan Hills, and were pioneers in the use of sale-leaseback financing. We're also excited about the winery, which we expect to add significant value to this investment."

John Giguere, CEO at Crew, added: "This sale-leaseback agreement fits well with our plans for the property, allowing us to focus our efforts on developing the vineyard and constructing one of the most efficient wineries in the industry. We view Vintage Wine Trust as an important partner in growing our business."