The Page Family began farming in the 1880s, when Jeff Page’s great-grandfather purchased 50 acres of land in Napa Valley to grow orchard fruit and raise cattle, sheep, and turkeys.
As a firm believer in land investment, Mr. Page’s great-grandfather expanded to other areas in Napa Valley.
While this mindset worked for the first two generations of Pages, the Pages’ business was jeopardized in 1972, when Mr. Page’s grandfather passed away. At this point, his grandmother was handed a federal estate tax bill that was so large that she had no choice but to sell everything save the core ranch just to pay it off. Almost all of her cash and investments were sacrificed, significant portions of pasture land and rental properties were sold off to raise money, and the ranch was leased out. As if this was not enough, any remaining cash was put towards non-farm investments so that the Pages would be prepared for the next bill.
Today, Mr. Page and his wife still farm in Napa Valley, specifically making Syrah and Cabernet. However, worries about the estate tax has carried forward to today, such that Mr. Page is constantly incorporating its deleterious effects into his future plans for Trubody Ranch. “What that means is that instead of living my life and farming top-quality wine grapes, I am paying crippling life insurance and estate tax lawyer fees that could be better spent on producing jobs, growing our crops and supporting the community,” he wrote in the Napa Valley Register. Clearly, the estate tax minimizes any prospect for growth.