The Mondavi Estate
At the center of the 56-acre Napa Valley Mondavi Estate at 5681 Silverado Trail is an 11,500-square-foot hilltop two-bedroom home with a 50-foot indoor pool and flowing floor plan designed by Cliff May and featuring big valley views.
Mondavi Estate Pool
Having hit the market in early 2010 asking $25,000,000, and recently reduced to under twenty, the estate has now been scheduled for auction with sealed bids due November 16.
Mondavi Estate Kitchen
The estate will be available for viewing by appointment, but “evidence of the bidder’s financial ability to close on the transaction” will be required to schedule and the published reserve price is $13,900,000, so unfortunately we’re out. But don’t forget those invitations to the estate warming, we’ll bring a few bottles to start stocking the underground cellar.
Mondavi Estate Auction [mondaviauction.com] [sheldongood.com]
Friday Diversion: Mondavi’s Estate For Sale [WSJ 2010]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by wrath

    I’ll take two.

  2. Posted by Modernqueen

    Beautiful house. Beautiful setting. Well worth the price.

  3. Posted by Tom

    Yes, classic Cliff May, and perfect for the location and setting. Oh, to have a spare $!2M or so!

  4. Posted by jlasf

    It’s one of the great, classic California houses in one of the most outstanding sites in the Napa Valley. Why didn’t some Google-naire buy this? Too big? Too small? Too dated? Too eccentric? Too bland?
    It’s a trophy property. So…why no takers?

  5. Posted by Gigi

    Yuck. Not my style at all…the interior seems really dated and lacking in charm. It’s also surprisingly dark for being located on the top of a hill. Something about it just feels “old” but not in a good way.
    Is there no outdoor pool, aside from the weird indoor one? For that price, you’d definitely expect a gorgeous outdoor pool with views of the valley – along with some other bells & whistles. I’m sure the property and location are worth a ton, but the house just doesn’t do it for me.

  6. Posted by anonarch

    I think the pool used to be outside, at least when browsing through images of this residence in my copy of CLIFF MAY AND THE MODERN RANCH HOUSE by Daniel P. Gregory. I happen to love Cliff May’s work because it was both contemporary and it had a regional identity that said “California”.
    There have been numerous examples of Cliff May homes being restored including the Berkus residence in Santa Barbara and I think Robert Wagner’s former residence in L.A. (which sold for about 15 million and was only 5,000 sq ft ). Brian Grazer sold his Cliff May residence to Ben Affleck for 17.5 million, so despite some haters, there IS a market for Cliff May architecture (at least in Los Angeles).

  7. Posted by tipster

    Why did some google-naire not buy this place? Maybe because it’s in Napa? Fun place to visit twice a year or so but I can think of a dozen better places to visit the rest of the time. The property taxes alone had they bought it for $25M would have been a quarter of a million dollars per year. Then add the upkeep.
    Geez, just rent a hotel. Not a room, the whole hotel. It would still be cheaper.
    And of course, by not buying it when it was originally on the market, the ultimate buyer has saved over ten million dollars.
    Beautiful place and great feel. It may be dated, but everyone in this price range rips out and starts over anyway. That isn’t hurting it at all.

  8. Posted by Modernqueen

    Wow tipster: you sure do like to complain and generalize about EVERYTHING.

  9. Posted by 94123 Native

    I think the real reason why it looks so dated is the windows all are 20 plus years old (well, and the furniture and art are very dated). I bet they enclosed the pool once Robert Mondavi’s arthritis got so bad he could barely walk with two canes in the early 1990s so he could use it for exercise 365 days a year.
    What I wonder about is whether the county will let the trees be trimmed. You can see from the web video that the house should have fabulous interior views, but if you watch the interior bit, all you can see are the oaks out of the windows. Looks like Cliff May forgot trees grow when he sited it or the Mondavis didn’t trim the trees regularly. They all look like Live Oaks, so you may not be allowed to trim. I know Napa County now has a ordinances regulating house colors and siting so they blend with the landscape. They also highly regulate what can be done now on hills to avoid erosion and runoff. Those regulations may be a big reason why it didn’t sell before – if the regulations make it impossible to expand or change the house, it may be why no one bit.
    Unfortunately I think the Mondavi family is in the position they have to sell to keep many of the charitable commitments Robert Mondavi made. Hence the auction instead of quietly keeping it as a pocket listing until a buyer falls in love.

  10. Posted by jlasf

    @ Tipster. Aside from feeling like Provence and Tuscany, having some of the most beautiful views of vineyards in the world, offering two Michelin 3-star restaurants, being able to eat at more great places than most cities, having sunny weather from March to October, offering wine tasting, shopping, galleries, biking, hiking and golf, and being only an hour from downtown San Francisco – I can’t think of a single reason to go to Napa.

  11. Posted by rocco

    @94123 Native: I was in the house a few weeks ago, and trust me, the oaks do not get in the way of the views. Instead, the views are framed by the trees, with the exception of the immense specimen just beyond the pool, which is the view. It’s a spectacular, living sculpture.
    As for being “dated” it’s true, the place was designed in the late ‘seventies, and some aspects, like the bronze-anodized window frames, are out of fashion.

  12. Posted by BobN

    Clearly they’re having to go the auction route because they ignore the advice of virtually every real estate show on TV: depersonalize and declutter! Although, in this case, the “clutter” appears to be a probably priceless collection of native art from around the world. I’ll take the Inuit pieces, please.

  13. Posted by 47yo hipster

    I’m especially impressed that this only has 2 bedrooms! A great excuse to keep pesky family and “friends” from unwanted sleepovers. Imagine saying, “yes mom it is over 11,000 sq ft but I swear, it only has two bedrooms!” priceless.

  14. Posted by Debtpocalypse

    It looks very similar to this slightly larger Cliff May – especially the modest A-frame to the massive room that houses the indoor pool:
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/Rolling-Hills/27-Crest-Rd-W-90274/home/7739940
    I spent a good deal of time in this SoCal version one or two summers long ago when Reagan was president. An epic property – expanded my understanding of what design and architecture and wealth mean.
    If I had $14m sitting around idle, I think I’d jump at the purchase of the Mondavi Estate. It’s a pity I don’t have to struggle with the decision.

  15. Posted by jlasf

    @Debtpocalypse: Great find! It’s interesting that there are even lion spouts in both pools. And it gives a sense of what the Mondavi house could look like with some updating.

  16. Posted by SocketSite

    The auction has concluded and the estate has sold but the terms of the sale nor the buyer have been disclosed. Readers?

  17. Posted by tipster

    Only got 2 bids, neither one hit the minimum. D’oh!

  18. Posted by FormerAptBroker

    I just read in the Wine Spectator that Gina Gallo and husband Jean-Charles Boisset bought the place for “below the $13.9mm asking price”…

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