If I had a spare $29.5 million or so lying around, I’d definitely be in the market for the Moraga Vineyards estate in Bel Air, which is now up for sale. You know those rows of vines you see across the 405 as you ride the tram up to the Getty Museum? That’s it.
According to the winery’s website, Moraga is the first commercial winery to be bonded in the city of Los Angeles since Prohibition ended in 1933.
I was there once, and it really is Shangri-La, the vineyards as meticulously groomed as the romantic Provençal-style garden. I remember an outdoor dining room under the shade of a huge old tree, bees and lavender, sunshine and blue blue sky above. Not to mention the sprawling 7,500-square-foot Mediterranean-style house and guest house. Take a look around. You can go on a virtual tour of the property.
The 16-acre estate was purchased by then Northrup CEO Tom Jones and his wife, Ruth, in 1959 when it was still a horse ranch built by director Victor Fleming ("Gone with the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz"). When Jones learned that Moraga Canyon had deep gravel soil, he was intrigued enough to try growing some Bordeaux varietals on his land — Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
The experiment was promising enough that ranch manager Roberto Quintana planted the site with some 2,200 vines per acre, 13,000 vines in all. The first wine was produced in 1989 under well-known winemaker Tony Soter (Etude Wine and Soter Vineyards). Scott Rich and later Mary Hall succeeded Soter. And a new winemaking facility was completed in time for the 2005 vintage. So it’s all there, ready for some lucky soul with deep pockets to continue the grand experiment.
We’re not talking an average California Cab. (The estate also makes a Sauvignon Blanc.) Moraga wines have a fine reputation. At Wally’s in West Los Angeles, which has a longstanding relationship with Jones and Moraga Vineyards, the 2007 and 2008 Moraga Vineyards Bel-Air Red is selling for $125 per bottle. Older vintages go for $170 to $225 per bottle. And a 6-liter bottle of 1994 Moraga Vineyard Bel Air Estate red (89 points from the Wine Advocate) is listed at $2,195.
The estate is listed with Jim Kline of Surterre Properties in Newport Beach (888) 898-9992.