Napa County is known for its premium wines—and premium housing. Which makes it an unlikely candidate for one of real estate's most ignominious titles.
We usually don't see grand, French-inspired estates in Northern California falling into the hands of creditors, but Villa Vigne is the exception. The nearly 40-acre spread is on the market in St. Helena for $5.5 million—making it the most expensive foreclosure in the country as of Aug. 13, according to realtor.com.
Even though the home, located at 130 Auberge Road, been repossessed, the views remain.
“You have a 180-degree view in the center of Napa Valley,” said listing agent Julie Larsen, broker associate in the Napa Valley office of Pacific Union.
“All you see is the valley and vineyards below.”
And the location is without parallel: It's on one of “the most expensive roads in Napa Valley,” according to Larsen.
The estate at 130 Auberge Road is less than a mile from the acclaimed Auberge du Soleil resort. According to online listings, a home at 40 Auberge Road was previously listed for sale at $11.25 million. A home at 50 Auberge Road sold for $6.5 million.
The land alone is worth about $5 million, but the house will require repairs, she said.
“It’s in original condition and 20 years old,” Larsen says. “It’s in need of updating to today’s standards.”
The agent updated the exterior paint and cleaned up the landscaping to boost its curb appeal.
The main level features five suite-style bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms, along with a host of luxe amenities, including a fitness center with steam room, an outdoor kitchen gazebo, an infinity pool and spa, two laundry rooms and a gated entry.
And there are those views.
“Almost every room in the house has a phenomenal view,” Larsen noted.
But for all that beauty, there was trouble in paradise. How a beautiful home in an ideal location became tangled up in foreclosure isn't entirely clear. We do know the broad strokes behind the home's ownership.
About 20 years ago, a developer from the Reno area named Nathan L. Topol paid $1 million for the parcel and built this home, which was completed in 2000. Larsen believes it was designed as a secondary property, and at one point the home was available as a vacation rental. In 2012 Topol filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. He died in a car accident in 2013.
The home was foreclosed almost a year ago and is now for sale by bank JP Morgan Chase.
If you think bank ownership means you can make a lowball offer to score a deal, don’t get your hopes up. Larsen notes that both she and the bank carefully researched the right price for the property.
“They are not into the idea of giving properties away,” she said.
The home is being sold as is, and is probably in need of at least $500,000 in repairs, the agent estimated.
The high-end kitchen appliances, such as a Viking range and wine fridge, were all removed as part of the foreclosure and would need to be replaced. It's currently priced with a renovation in mind, according to the agent.
The right offer will likely appreciate the property’s potential and spectacular setting.
“Someone could come in and make it one of the most magnificent properties around,” Larsen said.
"With the view you can't go wrong.”
Register reporter Jennifer Huffman contributed to this story.