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Home Sweet Second Home

Home Sweet Second Home

Wine Country Wonder

OWNER Tracy McLaughlin of Ross
LOCATION St. Helena, Napa Valley
SETTING A private estate on the Napa Valley floor surrounded by acres of vineyards and sweeping mountain views
DISTANCE FROM MARIN 1 hour and 20 minutes
LAYOUT 5,500-square-foot, four-bedroom main house and two-bedroom detached guesthouse with living room and kitchen, all on a level acre with its own chardonnay grapes
WHY HERE McLaughin, a Ross native and present-day resident, has owned second homes in both Aspen and Lake Tahoe, but concluded that with her three children’s busy schedules and lives, “it’s very hard to mobilize our family when a plane ride or longer car drive is involved.” She adds, “I bought a place that I knew my three children could easily drive to and bring their friends. The setting, warmer weather and agricultural aspect of the valley are so different from Marin, yet so easily accessible by car, which makes for an ideal second home location.”
DESIGN As a top real estate agent in Marin County, McLaughlin has seen every style of house imaginable and knew immediately this was the place for her and her children. “It’s the best layout I have seen for new construction in this type of environment,” she says. “The site placement, scale, simple architecture, floor plan, and perfectly executed indoor/outdoor living are really hard for most developers to get right.” The house was developed by Millie Froeb of Tiburon, with Kari Cusack, also from Tiburon, designing the interiors. Landscaping was done by Michael Yandle. “I see so many houses in all price ranges, and this house and property just spoke to me,” McLaughlin adds. “It was designed for cooking and entertaining — basically for the celebration of family and friends. It’s the first home that I have owned where the kitchen taps me on the shoulder and really inspires me to cook.”
DETAILS “The heart of the house is a grand scale, with 18-foot ceilings and tall walls of glass that recede into the walls, literally bringing the outdoors in,” McLaughlin says. “When you walk inside, you look straight out over the pool and into the vineyards and surrounding mountain ranges. It’s just spectacular. Millie kept it very simple inside, selecting classic, timeless materials with a modern application. Your eyes are not pulled by the house interior but by this incredible setting. Each bathroom is en suite, giving me the ability to have six couples stay for a weekend with their own sense of space and privacy. It’s also a very recreational space with a pool, spa, bocce court and the unique experience of walking out into your own vineyards with a glass of wine.”
FAVORITE ELEMENTS “There’s a very limited number of properties in this area. I love the borrowed landscape that I get to enjoy. Duckhorn Vineyards is just down the lane. And the charming Wine Country Inn is right next door. There’s also a sense of authentic country ‘funk,’ as you’ll find an old red cabin where someone has lived for 45 years next to a beautiful vineyard estate. I like that there’s some diversity and like the eclectic nature of the neighborhood. It’s an agricultural community that truly blends the old with the new.”
ADDED BONUS “We just planted chardonnay grapes. I know zero about the wine business, but thought that it would be fun to learn something new. I’ll leave it to the children to come up with a creative name.”
PERFECT DAY “Some of the finest restaurants and wineries are right in St. Helena and we can walk into town for dinner. An ideal evening starts with a glass of champagne at Auberge for sunset; then we head over for dinner at Press, a local favorite.”

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