Just as migrating to California is by no means required (in fact, there are wineries in all 50 states), aspiring wine growers may not need to consult their real estate sections for available vineyard estates. In fact, cultivating grapes on your own backyard can be a way to ease yourself into the industry -- not to mention that doing so will raise your property value in the long run.

Bill Murphy, founder and owner of San Martin, Calif.-based Clos LaChance Winery and C.K. Vines, which installs backyard vineyards, says buying an existing vineyard involves evaluating its production volume and grape value, while building a backyard vineyard is equated to investing in the land itself. "Installing a vineyard is landscaping that partially pays for itself," he says. "It's safe to say that it enhances the value of the property more than what it costs to put it in."

The key to owning your own vineyard is finding the right piece of land. And not any piece of land will do. Good grape growing areas aren't the easiest to find, or the cheapest. While a soil test is a good place to start, it is not the only thing to consider. Too much shadow will give you a beautiful green vineyard -- but you can kiss good grapes goodbye. Having the appropriate amount of water can make or break a deal, so be prepared to set (and pay for) an irrigation system. Temperature is important; frost at the wrong time can destroy it all.

Not all vineyards -- or any wine-related businesses -- are alike. While some tackle the entire three-step cycle of grape growing, wine production and sales, others simply cultivate grapes and send them to a so-called custom crush facility for production. Meanwhile, some who grow grapes for landscaping purposes focus on making wine exclusively for personal use.

"If you're a true hobbyist, and you want to make wine yourself, you can buy a few barrels and an old rudimentary press -- there are people who do this in their basements," Murphy says. "But there are a number of things that are hard to control when you do it that way. For example, temperature. At modern wineries today, you'll see jacketed steel tanks that are temperature-controlled, so you can control the rate of fermentation."

Vineyard costs vary greatly. Murphy estimates that the installation costs for a backyard vineyard can be anywhere from $35,000 to $45,000 an acre -- and frequently more. "A vineyard is for someone who is serious about wine. This is not a game," says Ken Wornick, founder and owner of Post & Trellis Vineyards, a company that designs, builds, and manages residential vineyards. His company charges an installation fee, annual maintenance fee, management fee, and wine-making fee.

Even if you decided not to outsource, be prepared for a lot of hard work and a significant long-term capital investment.

Owning your own vineyard is no easy task. Choosing the right land, the vines, and growing and running it is more than plain willingness and hard work. While "being one with the land" and doing it yourself might sound like a good idea, it isn't. Expert advice and a wealth of information are needed to run a successful vineyard. While you might be knowledgeable in some areas, the odds are you will need help.

Fortunately, a number of companies -- including C.K. Vines and Post & Trellis Vineyards -- install and help maintain backyard vineyards. If you plan on marketing your wine, there are also a number of consulting companies, particularly in California, that can help.

Because of the recent consolidation of many U.S.-based wine distributors and the large number of small wineries (of the roughly 6,000 American wineries, the vast majority are small and family-owned), most winemakers have to rely on direct-to-consumer sales.

To attract enough customers, a small vineyard is encouraged to send its varietals to publications like The Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator for review. Because the image of small wineries is built upon tourism, setting up a tasting room and a wine club are also crucial steps. More than half of all consumer-direct sales are made at tasting rooms, research and consulting firm VinterActive estimates. One of the benefits of running a winery, many growers say, is that consumers tend to be loyal to their local producers.

Selling your very own brand of wine can be a proud culmination of your efforts, but it also involves a new level of grunt work. Winemakers have to obtain both federal and local sales licenses, and before shipping wine to other regions, they must navigate through state-specific sales taxes.

Small wineries often turn to consulting firms like Compliance Connect to file and keep track of their shipping compliance licenses. Meanwhile, ShipCompliant.com offers software to track orders, generate tax reports, and determine which states contain the most profitable customer base.

"Start shipping to the states where you have the highest margin compared to the compliance costs of operating within that state, and build up a customer base," says Jason Eckenroth, founder of ShipCompliant.com. "Very rarely do you see someone coming into the industry who decides to get a permit in every state right off the bat. It's extremely expensive."

Patience is a virtue -- especially in the wine game. It takes at least two years for a vineyard to produce fruit and four years for the delivery of the first bottle of wine. If selling your wine is your dream or you are hoping to expand, you may want to buy grapes from elsewhere until your new properties yield fruit.

Cheers!