Castle Road Estate Sonoma, CA
Through the gates of Bartholomew Park and up the private road along seasonal creeks, redwoods, oaks, manzanitas and other native California vegetation, just before arriving at the property’s custom steel entry gate, you pass the Aglandau orchard filled with olive trees native to Provence and known for their flavorful oil. Upon arrival at the ochre-walled residence, guests are welcomed by a variegated blue agave garden that adorns the brick paved drive. From this moment on, the property begins to share its story with visitors.
Agave House is an experiential welcome, where guests are introduced to repeated design motifs used throughout the property. Beyond the copper gridded patchwork door that pivots, as if the entire front wall makes way for arrival, the entryway is bathed in natural light. Diffused illumination – from the large wall of glass ahead, and the series of square skylights above – warm the large format Durango Stone pavers underfoot. The Durango travertine, hand-selected in Mexico as 8 feet slabs and later cut to size onsite during construction, unifies the interior and exterior throughout the main floor, tying all three wings and exterior courtyards together. Robust circular walls, made of stucco and glass, add both structure and softness to the minimalist design.
Repeated use of artistic motifs including a square grid pattern; the use of a precise shade of blue in millwork and glass pool tiles; handmade glass – both colored and obscured as décor and building material; and the use of hides and leather as an earthy element that pays homage to the rustic nature of the home’s setting.
Beyond the grand entry is a wall of glass sliders, leading to the back courtyard, loggia and terrace. An infinity lap pool lined in blue glass tiles is an eye-catching focal point as it slips into the distant bay views and hillside foliage. A spa, waterfall feature and wading pool entry makes the swimming area a complete experience and is great for families and four-legged friends too. A covered stucco loggia, designed using traditional Mayan architectural principles, runs the length of the house and is strategically situated so that it captures sun in the cold winter months, yet shades and cools the home during summer. The roofline cutouts also create an attractive grid pattern along the walls, using light and shadow to create a visible texture. Every detail has been considered to provide both function and form, and to bring beauty in both experience and presentation.
The dining pavilion and gallery is positioned to capture the extraordinary bay views. The wooden parquet floor is a mirror of the decorative ceiling features above. Protected from sun by automated solar shades as well as dual-open, tilt and turn Albertini windows that allow a natural breeze to cool the room, in much the same way homes in warm climates have been cooled for centuries. These juxtapositions exist throughout the home – state of the art, modern design and technology paired with timeless features of classic architecture.
The spacious kitchen is designed for beauty and practicality. Custom mahogany cabinetry is used throughout and the marble counters are from Portugal, selected at the quarry and brought back to the States in slabs, customized for the home during construction. In addition to the expected chef’s accouterments in a gourmet kitchen of this caliber, there is also a custom-made stainless steel wood burning rotisserie oven. Storage space is creatively maximized, planned by - and for - real home chefs. A butler’s pantry adds functionality for formal entertaining, and a large storage pantry behind the kitchen keeps practical items hidden from view.
A breakfast nook and outdoor deck is the relaxed compliment to the formal dining room. Offering similarly spectacular views, the breakfast area is a casual dining space with banquette in the kitchen that extends to an exterior patio and built-in fireplace overlooking the garden and espaliered fruit trees – framed by the stunning panoramic backdrop of the Bay views of course.
An adobe-brick living room incorporates Sonoma’s history and again repeats design elements that make the home a unified experience. Custom furniture and large cased windows maximize the space. Overlooking the pool area and covered loggia, the windows open onto the shaded patio. A wood-burning fireplace is accented by a mantel embellished with several of the home’s signature design elements – glass and square motifs.
The master wing is an extension of the living area. Used by the owners as their “sitting area” on a daily basis, the expansive space is converted to an elegant living room when welcoming guests or entertaining. Adjacent to the pool and spa, the master wing showcases pool and bay views. Proximity to the swimming area allows for a fully integrated use of the gym and dressing area directly accessible from the pool and spa. This includes a workout room, soaking tub, and double-sided bathrooms/closets. A wall of stained glass has been used in a tableau that forms the shower wall, glowing with vibrant color. Separate dressing rooms offer maximum privacy and ample space for two people to each have their own master closet and bath. Views of lush foliage and the wooded surroundings make the master a nature-filled retreat.
Two additional guest suites are located across a private courtyard, each with a private entrance and access to separate parking. The addition of these two rooms makes a total of three, fully private, en-suite bedrooms within the contemporary house.
A loft library and office with full bathroom is perched above the entry and enjoys views of the treetops and hills beyond. This centralized, open-air space allows for work to be done in private, but also connected to the house below. A powder room on the main floor has a custom cement sink and walls of obscure glass, with leather walls in a repeated patchwork grid motif similar to the copper front door.
Downstairs is an enchanting wine cellar lined with stone walls. Ideal not only for wine storage or wine making, but also for curing olives and best of all…entertaining. It has an area spacious enough to seat 80-90 people, with its own kitchen specifically for wine cave events. A glass-enclosed room with large, sliding barn doors made of reclaimed redwood allows the space to be converted into a variety of configurations. Besides adjacent storage rooms and a charming half bath with custom wine barrel sink, a library for cataloging and recording wine is tucked into a cozy corner, easily converted to an intimate dining space for 4-6. With cement floors, French drains and zinc tables, it is a fully utilitarian wine cave that easily becomes an enchanting event space. Direct access to the outdoor bougainvillea trellis adds open-air options to the unique and flexible entertainment area. Thriving herb and vegetable gardens plus Manzanillo olive, pomegranate and citrus orchards create a beautiful backdrop to the Bocce court and view area.
The indoors and outdoors blend throughout the property. Walls of glass that open to create expansive spaces, or to blur the experience of being entertained amidst the luxury of indoor comfort while maintaining the pastoral charm of dining or lounging al fresco. Flooring that is beautiful enough for formal, interior rooms, while being durable enough for outdoor use, create a continuous space by employing the same materials in different rooms. Indoor walls and doors have been constructed with rustic materials found on the property including doors made of old redwood water tanks, or stone harvested from the land and turned into stairs or walls. Numerous details were made by hand, specific to the home – from hand-forged iron door hinges, to salvaged boards from a San Francisco warehouse used to build the massive bougainvillea trellis. The walls are custom, artisanal stucco, some 18 inches thick, hand-finished with various textures and using old-world techniques. Five East to West walls define the footprint of the home and connect one space to another with a sense of cohesion. This level of specification has resulted in a beautiful and unique home.
Other property amenities include a large utility room, 2 car garage, laundry room, 2 sophisticated boiler rooms providing immediate hot water for the home and multi-zone radiant floor heating, reverse osmosis plant with water purification system providing 10,000 gallons of water, ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) construction and traditional dumbwaiters between serving floors and the garage all add to the precision and function of this gorgeous home.
Wine Cave and Dining Cellar Highlights: