According to local wine country lore, when Samuele Sebastiani immigrated to California from Tuscany, he set about creating a foundation for himself in the area—almost literally, given that his first trade was mining stone used to pave the streets of the fast-growing city of San Francisco. Within a decade, Samuele had purchased land in the rolling hills and valleys to the north, in Sonoma, and began making wine that he sold to area restaurants.
More than a century later, Samuele’s legacy lives on in the valley where he first settled, in this elegant yet inviting home owned by his grandson Don. The 4.56-acre site—which includes approximately an acre of its own vineyards—was bequeathed to Don and his wife, Nancy, some five decades ago. Although the Sebastiani family’s origins are clearly in Italy, the residence—with its stone-paved drive, allées, soothing symmetry, neutral palette, spacious forecourt, tall windows, dentil moldings, interior columns and arches, and namesake 13th-century fleur de lys cabochons adorning the entryway—brings to mind a manor in the countryside of France. All these elements serve as elegant reminders that in natural beauty, architecture, and viticultural success, America’s wine country resembles and continues to hold its own against the grande dame of France.
Stately stone, Venetian plaster, and handsome distressed wood unite in interiors of unique stylishness, combining touches of Old World classicism with welcoming modern comfort and convenience. Although the residence begins with a palatial foyer boasting soaring ceilings, two regal stairways with balustraded railings, abundant windows, and a striking decorative floor inlay, much of the 11,89-square-foot floor plan is deliberately designed for gathering of groups large and small. Among the alluring spaces are a living room, a den with fireplace and a full en suite bath, a library with an impressive wall of bookshelves, and a wood-paneled game room with a wet bar. While the chef’s kitchen can tend toward industriousness when desired, it remains charming and convivial with its traditional cabinetry, colorful marble countertops, whimsical La Cornue range backsplash, glorious natural light, and access to the manicured grounds. The adjoining dining room skews formal, with its satin walls, regal wood built-ins, fireplace, and other hints of Parisian aesthetics and can seat up to 20 diners.
For more private, restful moments, the estate offers four bedrooms—one on the main level, and the others perched on the uppermost floor, where they enjoy enviable views of the idyllic surroundings and distant mountains. The owner’s bedroom is spacious enough to feature a sitting area with a fireplace, two baths with stone countertops, two walnut-clad walk-in closets, and a gym and gives way to its own sunny terrace. The basement level is further dedicated to enjoyment, offering tasting rooms, a partial kitchen, and space well-suited for a wine cellar.
Outdoors, an elegant balustraded terrace and a delightful variety of mature trees surround the refreshing swimming pool. Beyond is an assemblage of terraced gardens with august stone stairways, impeccable verdant lawns, and classical fountains. Much of the land not devoted to the residence and its vineyard is level and ideal for the addition of a sports court, garaging for a car collection, or an expansion of an estate that could hardly be more deeply rooted in the history of California wine country.