Click photo to enlarge
Stefan Leer, left, owner of the Leer Vineyards, visits with customers in… ( DAN ROSENSTRAUCH )
BYRON — Representatives of prospective buyers have come from all over the world, China and New Zealand included, assessing the Leer Vineyards’ compound in Byron, a property that is now for sale and that East Contra Costans will likely feel the loss of.
Owners of the 44-acre property, including vineyards, residence, sports fields and entertainment center, are asking $5.2 million for a business that has produced prizewinning wines and brought popular entertainment to East County in merely two years.
Stefan and Tanisha Leer bought the property without the intention of creating the now-elaborate center. But through their efforts and investment, it was transformed into a complex offering a tasting room, softball and bocce ball courts and a venue for corporate events, weddings and concerts.
It will take awhile for it to be clear whether any of the prospective investors will step forward, their broker Lori Abreu, principal of Delta Ranches, explained. On Jan. 26, the Leers, with Abreu, held an open tour of the expansive property for brokers in the hopes that they would attract interested investors.
More than 200 people came to the event, they said, and six interested investors made themselves known.
Tanisha Leer was at pains to explain why this attractive property was up for sale after they had made it, by all appearances, a great success and a significant benefit to the community.
“We have put a lot of money into this place. We’re not trying to flip it. It would be nice to make money, but that’s not our main focus. It took nine months just to get the permits for our events and that (alone) cost thousands of dollars,” she recounted.
“We put $650,000 into the house itself.”The Leers have also recently relinquished their half share in Brentwood-based wine bar, Vine and Grain.
So what is the power couple thinking? It turns out, she explained, they have too much on their plate. They are planning to leave Northern California and will be concentrating on their core business and family.
Stefan Leer is the principal of Kinetic Insurance Solutions in this state as well as in Texas.
“That’s what pays the bills,” Tanisha Leer said.
The couple has been running the 44-acre Byron operation as well as participating in the late-night events at Vine and Grain from their principal business.
In addition, they’ve recently adopted a child who requires their attention.
“It was not an easy decision to make,” she said. “We put blood sweat and tears into this.”
They came to the breaking point after their attempts to hire staff to give them more time at home did not pan out.
Although they had hired a couple to run the vineyard and the events, the Leers found that the number of regular customers to their wine-and-song complex subsequently dropped off.
She also hired a nanny for son Keegan, but decided she “did not want to watch someone else raise my child.”
The co-proprietor revealed the thinking process that went into setting the asking price.
“We didn’t have any reference point or any other place like ours to compare.”
The nearby Brentwood vineyard and winery Hannah Nicole, which also offers picnic venues and musical entertainment, was also sold by a local family a few years ago.
Abreu was also the broker for that sale at the price of $9.5 million.
However, that complex is approximately twice the size of Leer Vineyards.
Three years ago Hannah Nicole was bought by Chinese investors operating under the name of JINTA Winery for a price that the previous management described as “compelling.”
Since the Leers have publicized their asking price, several people have commented that it is underpriced, Tanisha Leer said. “Only one person has said that it was overpriced.”
She insisted she would not let go of booking events and weddings until and even after a sale is finalized.
“Several brides have come to me to book their wedding here and I will come back if we are out of the area to be here for that event, ” the co-owner said.
They will also maintain control of the inventory of their two prizewinning labels, Heroic Red and Valiant White.
Regular customers say this sale could be a big loss to the community since the leaders brought entertainment and communal events to an area of Contra Costa that tends to be somnolent at night and on weekends.
The Leers insist that they will look for a buyer who will continue to further their vision of bringing entertainment and community events to East County.
Two Discovery Bay residents and regular customers of Leer Vineyards feel the loss of the Leer family’s stewardship sharply. Both Michelle Campos and Shelley Nelson expressed their appreciation for the Leers.
The Leers “brought the community together. The sale is a big deal in this area,” Michelle Campos said.
Of course, there is no sale yet.
Such transactions may take anywhere from six months to a year, Tanisha Leer speculated.