Just how much imitation French chateau in Napa is too much imitation French chateau in Napa, and how much is just right?
Most people never even get the chance to seriously consider such questions, of course. But the working example of 256 North Fork Crystal Springs Road (yep, even the street address is overladen with ornamentation) in St Helena serves as a handy case study anyway.
At first blush this four-bed, six-bath (not counting the guest house, which is a separate Euro vision of its own) seems to invoke Greece more than France, perhaps in unconscious deference to the Helen name.
After all, there are Doric columns, the poolside pavilion goes for the Parthenon-light look, there’s a fountain depicting the likes of Achilles and Ajax, and the wine cellar features a mosaic of Galatea and Pygmalion.
But it turns out all of those details are just Greek by way of France, as this Napa number—which, although it seems to have the air of a home from one of the Bay Area’s 19th century mining barons or 20th century industrial magnates, only dates back to 2003—largely imitates the homes of various French royalty.
“The family room is a copy of the Great Hall of the the Charles VIII wing of Chateaux Amboise,” notes realtors Cheri Stanley and Barry Berkowitz.
“The front entry is modeled from the front entry of Chateaux Azay-le-Rideau except that the Porcupine (the emblem of Louis XII) above the front door is from Chateaux Blois.”
Even the door to the wine cellar came from a 17th century French castle. Presumably for the sake of oenophiles who want to keep their stock really, really secure.
In truth, this mix and match style gets a bit dizzying when it comes to throwing around terms like “Galatea's turret,” “a Chateau Chateaudun inspired spiral staircase,” “French Loire Valley Chateau stone fireplace,” and “Chateau Le Lude Mosaic Floor” all within a few paragraphs.
It’s chateau fever.
But at least it’s an education. The home itself goes by “Chateau Galatea.” Perhaps its freewheeling mixture of architectural accoutrements is apropos for a home that mingles France and Greece with Napa— a blend of history’s three great wine loving cultures.
The new $13.2 million price is actually a discount, after this place aimed for more than $16.9 million in 2014.
- 256 North Fork Crystal Springs [Sotheby’s]
- 256 North Fork, 2014 [Curbed SF]