A site visit to the vineyard or winery is usually done at the start of deciding to buy, lease or finance a vineyard or winery, but at the very latest it needs to be done before the transaction completes.

The agent will usually accompany you on the visit, but it is a good idea to bring your solicitor along as well so they can get a feel of the property. If that is not possible however, ask the agent or solicitor for a copy of the Land Registry Title Plan and take this along with you so you can check the following:

The extent of the property you are buying

Using the Title Plan walk the boundary of the property line checking that it matches up with the red outline on the Title Plan. With rural land you may notice that the boundary line is marked on the ground by a natural feature like a hedge or a stream, otherwise it may follow a man-made boundary like a fence. If the Title Plan does not match up with what you expect or what is happening on the ground let your solicitor and the agent know as soon as possible.

Trodden on footpaths or people walking across the property

Land can have public rights of way over it which means the public can cross over your property and you cannot block or build over the footpath. This could scupper your vine planting or building plans. Trodden ground which shows a used footpath can be a sign of this as well as gates around the boundary. Usually, public footpaths will come to light in property investigations which your solicitor will undertake, but some of these rights can arise by the footpath simply existing for a long time. In any event it is helpful for you to mark these footpaths on the Title Plan and share this with your solicitor so they can check with the seller.

All the points of access onto the property and mark these on the Title Plan

This is important for your solicitor to have so they can check you have proper legal rights to access the property without trespassing onto someone else’s land. Many properties I review are accessed over private land belonging to other people so it is vital to check that the proper legal rights are in place to reach the property. The access could be directly off a public highway like a main road, but in some cases it may be over other people’s land in which case your solicitor will check you have been granted ‘a right of way’ otherwise you may not be able to use that access point. 

If any of the access points are blocked by a gate please take a photo of the gate as well and mark the position of the gate on the Title. Again, this is so your agent or solicitor can raise it with the seller to check who controls that gate to make sure you can reach the property.

The water supply and septic tanks

Again, the issue of water supply and drainage comes up quite regularly in properties like this. This is important for all properties, but especially so for vineyards and wineries that use a large amount of water. When you are walking the site ask if the property is connected to mains water, how the water drains and if septic tanks are used. If septic tanks are used ask when they were last serviced. 

The above points are helpful to sort out as soon as possible and can help your transaction proceed smoothly. If you have any questions on the above, please feel free to contact me.