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A Great Vintage

Nick Churton of Village Properties Realtors’ London office gets a taste for a great Montecito vintage property.

The Property: La Manzanita, 705 Riven Rock Road, Montecito, CA

The Broker: Village Properties Realtors

The Team: Riskin Partners Estate Group

The label says Spanish. But I picked up base notes of the Western Cape in South Africa when I had my first taste of the La Manzanita Estate in Montecito.

Houses are like wines. They pick up influences from their surroundings but also from their makers. Here, even the name of the house sounds like a grand vineyard.

The Cape Dutch style is no more evident to me than in the sensational lancet-vaulted great room and the soft-cornered architectural detail surrounding the windows and doors. Parts of the house could have been plucked straight from Franschhoek or Stellenbosch.

Like any great estate house, there should be a partnership between the interior and the exterior. I think the two get on famously at La Manzanita.

The outside is a triumph of planting and landscape design. By the main door, a mostly-still lily pond – only ruffled now and then by carp breaking its surface – acts as a delightful introduction to the house. At the rear, terraces, pool area, and more wonderful planting ease the eye to the sensational ocean view. It is no accident that houses built over 100 years ago in Montecito have the best views – their original owners bagged all the best sites!

Not that this house shows its age. But it does show its pedigree. It could have been built yesterday; such is the quality of the recent renovation, layout and specification.

Like most great wines, this home has improved with age. But also, like wines, there is a perfect time to savour them. I would say that at La Manzanita that time is now.