This 41-acre estate in California’s wine country is known as Amaya. In Japanese, the word amaya is written with characters that mean “heavenly valley,” and the views of valleys, mountains covered with grapevines, and Lake Hennessey make the name fitting for this property. With all that acreage, privacy is a given, yet the property is just ten minutes away from downtown St. Helena.
The seven-bedroom, eight-bath compound includes a main house, studio, large guest house, and guest studio. Inspired by the Meiji-era buildings on Japan’s art islands, the houses combine a contemporary sensibility with a respect for nature. The property is listed by Sotheby’s International Realty’s St. Helena brokerage for $26 million.
Construction is of wood, glass, and steel, especially enormous walls of windows to bring the stunning views into focus. The wood is cedar, treated with the shou sugi ban method, an 18th-century Japanese waterproofing technique by which the surface of wood is charred, rendering it a deep charcoal black.
The main residence allows for both peaceful, quiet weekends and grand parties. Living, dining, family, and great rooms give way to covered and open decks. The kitchen is simple and modern, with plenty of counter space for cooking local produce. There’s also a home theater and three en-suite bedrooms on the upper level. On the ground level are two more bedrooms with a shared bath, a kitchenette and bar, a wine cellar, and another living and dining room, right next to the swimming pool terrace.
The studio boasts a study that opens to a patio and lawn, a gym and meditation room, and a three-car garage. The guesthouse has been landscaped so that native madrone plantings provide a natural curtain of privacy. In addition to its two bedroom suites, it offers a living and dining room and a kitchen. The adjoining guest studio includes storage space and its own two-car garage.
But who wants to be indoors in such a climate? The grounds include lounging and dining areas, an outdoor kitchen, a tennis court, a saltwater pool, an orchard, an olive grove, and raised vegetable garden beds. Farther away, walking trails have been added to the acreage to further enjoy those distant heavenly valleys.