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March 5, 2009

Church Estate Vineyards: Euro Feel, Malibu Style

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Instead of the sand and surf of Malibu, Church Estate Vineyards resembles a landscape that Monet or Renoir could have painted. An 8,000 square foot French chateau is surrounded by nine acres of gardens and vineyards planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Down below, a clay tennis court echoes the French Open courts at Roland Garros. Inside, the chateau’s rooms are furnished with French antiques, and each room has its own panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

It is the creation of California entrepreneur Robert Church Haggstrom, who purchased the property in 2003, envisioning it as a retreat for friends and family. Today, after spending four years creating the estate, Robert has partnered with his daughter Maja, to make the property available to others on a very limited basis. It is an ideal location for any occasion that is special enough to merit an exclusive, once-in a-lifetime setting.

“Sharing the beauty of this place is very important to me,” Robert says. It’s really quite magical.” He took his cues from the natural contours of the landscape to create a sanctuary of vineyards, vistas, gardens, winding pathways and multi-level stone patios. Mature trees offer gentle shade, and an enchanting combination of European and California florals fill every inch of the property.

The same attention to detail can be seen in the estate’s interiors. The chateau is furnished with French fabrics, 15th Century fireplaces, and antiques from around the world. A custom-designed wine cellar, floored with stone from first-century Cypress, houses the world’s best wines, and will soon feature Church Estate Vineyard’s first vintage—a Chardonnay that will be released in 2008, and a Pinto Noir slated for mid-2009. An exquisite professional kitchen can be used as a staging area for caterers, or as a fantasy kitchen for guests who want to nurture their inner chef. Adding to the charm of the property are horse stables and a romantic carriage house retreat, perfect for a honeymooning couple.

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