Napa Valley, Land of Cult Wines, Faces Record Defaults

Napa Valley
Napa Valley

It is a vintage year alright for California's Napa Valley. Only, not the sort of vintage anyone there can be proud of. A combination of falling land values and changing consumer habits is forcing as many as 10 vineyards into foreclosure fire sales, according to a survey conducted by Silicon Valley Bank that was reported by Bloomberg. In 2008, there were none.

Defaults are also on the rise, underscoring the fact that no area has emerged unscathed by the recession, even one as rarified as Napa Valley, where hi-tech gazillionaires and other "gentlemen farmers" have pushed up land values to extremes in recent years.