The latest in Silicon Valley real estate: Your own chateau

Long before anyone worried about drones crashing through the front window, winemaker Paul Masson built a chateau in the hills above Saratoga.

Now it’s for sale.

You can have it for $7 million — not bad in the Silicon Valley real estate market, where paying upwards of $5 million for a house somehow doesn’t register as a big deal anymore.

Born in 1858, Masson grew up in France and patterned his chateau — built in 1936 — after his childhood home in Burgundy. With its turret and pitched slate roof, it’s a grand place: 4,897 square feet with four bedrooms, three baths and a wine cellar, overlooking vineyards on 3-plus acres. Extensively renovated about a decade ago by its current owners, the kitchen counter is an antique, imported from a French butcher shop.

Have a look right here.

But whoever buys this spread will get something additional: history.

“As the story goes,” says Patricia Anderson, the Coldwell Banker agent who listed the house this month, “Paul Masson’s daughter would play the organ in the turret. She would sit there, I’m told, and look out the window and see who was coming up the path.”

And who might that be?

Why, Charlie Chaplin, who attended Masson’s parties. Or Orson Welles, who later (long after Masson’s death in 1940), helped popularize Paul Masson wines with those famous TV commercials: “We will sell no wine before its time.” Or James Duval Phelan, the San Francisco mayor, United States senator and builder of nearby Villa Montalvo.

“If the walls could talk, we would hear a lot of interesting things,” Anderson says.

Masson built the chateau across the road from his winery (now known as the Mountain Winery). Because his wife had been a prohibitionist and remained anti-alcohol, the couple didn’t live in the chateau; they had a home in San Jose’s Naglee Park neighborhood.

But they entertained at the chateau, and Masson used it as a hunting lodge for his buddies.

He enjoyed the hang at his hilltop spread, it seems.

And when he died, his body lay in state in the great room, which has high, high ceilings and a huge fireplace. “It takes up one whole wall. You can walk into it,” says Anderson, who has attended cozy winter parties in the great room. “The fireplace is going, there’s a holiday celebration and it’s just an exciting place to be. The chateau isn’t a museum piece. It’s a wonderful, living, breathing home.”

Photo of Paul Masson’s chateau in Saratoga, courtesy of Coldwell Banker.


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