Driving up to the main house at Church Estate Vineyards, visitors forget where they are. Instead of the sand and surf of Malibu, Church Estate Vineyards resembles a Monet landscape. The 8,000 square foot French chateau is surrounded by nine acres of gardens and vineyards planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Below, a clay tennis court echoes the French Open courts at Roland Garros. Inside, rooms are furnished with French antiques and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
In many ways, the property looks as if it has always been there. But Church Estate Vineyards is actually the creation of California entrepreneur Robert Church Haggstrom, who purchased the property in 2003, envisioning it as a retreat for friends and family. After spending four years creating the estate, Haggstrom has partnered with his daughter Maja, to make the property available to others on a very limited basis. It is an ideal location for any occasion that is special enough to merit an exclusive, once-in a-lifetime setting.
â€œSharing the beauty of this place is very important to me,â€ Haggstrom says. â€œIt’s really quite magical.â€
A native of California, Haggstrom spent more than two decades in the mortgage business. In 2002, he sold a portion of his company to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, and embarked on the next chapter of his life.
For Haggstrom, it was important that what he did next had meaning beyond financial success. Ten years ago, Robert was critically injured in a body-surfing accident, breaking his neck.He survived and embarked on a spiritual journey that he believes brought him to the land that is now Church Estate Vineyards.
â€œAfter I was injured I understood what life had to offer me,â€ Haggstrom says. â€œI realized how important it is to slow down and spend time with friends and family, and to surround oneself with beauty. I was determined to enjoy every moment of every day. This place has helped me do that.â€
Haggstrom took his cues from the natural contours of the landscape to create a sanctuary of vineyards, vistas, gardens, winding pathways and multi-level stone patios. Mature trees offer gentle shade, and an enchanting combination of European and California florals fill every inch of the property.
A 500-foot stream flows over two waterfalls before feeding into a small lake. There, visitors will find a cozy, rustic lakeside boathouse.
The same attention to detail can be seen in the estate’s interiors. The chateau is furnished with French fabrics, 15th century fireplaces and antiques from around the world. A custom-designed wine cellar, floored with stone from first-century Cypress, houses the world’s best wines and will soon feature Church Estate Vineyard’s first vintage â€“ a Chardonnay that will be released in 2008 and a Pinot Noir slated for mid-2009. An exquisite professional kitchen can be used as a staging area for caterers or as a fantasy kitchen for guests who want to nurture their inner chef. Adding to the charm of the property are horse stables and a romantic carriage house retreat, perfect for a honeymooning couple.
The walled estate, with a complete security system, offers guests the ultimate private venue for special events, weddings, corporate retreats, motion picture filming and television production.
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