A Good Vintage

Please click on image for further details.

Please click on image for further details.

Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty tastes the fruits of someone else’s labour in the Santa Ynez Valley, California.

Broker: Village Properties

Agent: Carey Kendall

For anyone who grew up watching westerns on the TV and at the cinema the Santa Ynez valley may, on the face of it, seem pretty familiar territory. Of course it hasn’t the haunting grandeur of Monument Valley but this dry-looking hill country of rocky gulches and ridges is the kind of place where a horse and rider can be spotted way off by a trail of dust.

But that is where the similarities today end. They may still breed horses in this place but something else thrives that never made it onto the screen – grapes. Over the past 45 years this valley has become verdant and one of the most highly respected wine producing areas in California – and therefore the world – with grape varieties including Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

So living here is a delicious pleasure. There aren’t that many neighbours, which also adds to the privilege. Scattered amongst the valley floor and flanking hillsides are some very fine homes indeed, many owned by names that certainly do make the film credits nowadays.

I went to see one of the best homes, La Bella Vista. This long, low, modern ranch-style house is very Californian yet it keeps its head well down. Set on top of a sharp ridge with outstanding valley and mountain views it hardly manages to make an impression on the natural ridgeline. But up close and personal this is a very distinctive and impressive home. In keeping with its low profile it stands at the end of a gate-protected mile long drive that snakes upward through mature olive groves to its lofty position.

The 9,837 sq ft 9 bedroom house also has a pool and spa, tennis court, 8 stall horse barn and guest quarters. There are 3000 olive trees producing about 38 tons of fruit a year and there is about 12 acres of irrigated pasture ready for the next owner to plant some vines and try and produce Châteaux La Bella Vista. So, La Bella Vista it seems is also La Bella opportunity. Saddle up and take a look.

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