Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Joe Montana threw for 40,551 yards in his legendary football career. But that pales in comparison to the 500-acre Napa Valley equestrian estate he’s tossing onto the market (after all, 40,551 yards only amounts to eight acres). Either way, the four-time Super Bowl champion is a winner.
Joe and his wife Jennifer are selling Villa Montana, their grand, European-inspired Sonoma County home for $28.9 million. The colossal property includes an Italianate villa (with wine cellar), guesthouse, caretakers’ cottage, bucolic water holes, and first-class equestrian facilities, including stables for 30 horses. Avram Goldman and Tim Hayden of Compass have the listing.
It’s easy to imagine this picturesque villa beautifying a Tuscan countryside, but this wine country landscape radiates Cabernet Sauvignon, not Sangiovese. Villa Montana dramatically stands out in this remote, mostly undeveloped rural hamlet.
Majestically perched atop a panoramic knoll in the coveted Knights Valley enclave (with 360-degree views of Mount Saint Helena), the cloistered estate is surprisingly accessible to the region’s amenities—a skip from Calistoga, 20 minutes from Santa Rosa’s private airport, and just an hour from San Francisco.
Framed by rolling hills, the villa’s Italianate exterior comprises two panoramic turret towers, Mediterranean-style roofs, verdant ivy walls, and 4 acres of exquisitely landscaped grounds with rose gardens, cypress trees and a Tuscan olive tree grove that produces 30 to 60 gallons of olive oil.
Sights and sounds coalesce here. Splashes of crimson pop (awnings and flowers) against a lush green garden canvas as rippling waters play a soothing soundtrack along babbling brooks, two streams, a large private beach pond, and a smaller moat-and-bridge pond.
An imported 17th century stone well guides guests, as a pathway landmark, toward the moat bridge by the home’s main entrance which is enveloped by the pond.
Boasting three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a powder room, the villa could pass for a centuries-old Italian villa on some peak in Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia. Completed in 2003, the 9,700-square-foot house was a five-year project by Moller Willrich Architecture & Design and Jennifer Montana, who conceived much of the interior and exterior design.
The villa is inspired by the Montanas’ extensive travels to Italy and France, where most of the home’s imported statues, furniture, architectural details, and landscape design originate. Under vaulted, wood-beamed ceilings and lavish chandeliers, the home features antique marble floors, stone mantels, arched doorways, ironwork torchères, 16th century iron gates, and a 17th century church altar surround.
“Jennifer Montana’s interior design acumen incorporating magnificent architectural features—[like] centuries-old floors, fireplaces, doors and window surrounds—imbue the home with timeless European warmth,” says Hayden.
The residence is decorated with statues, tapestries, Da Vinci-esque frescoes (one with the Montana family crest), and even a Parisian marble bathtub, installed via crane from the Montana’s former home.
These valuables are protected by seamless technology and security hidden from view. The marble island kitchen boasts an antique feel amid modern stainless steel appliances.
Apropos for the region, the 3,500-bottle-capacity wine cellar includes a tasting room, outdoor tasting terrace amid white grape vines, and storage for olive oil bottles produced from Tuscan varietals the Montana’s planted on the property.
An elaborate outdoor kitchen near the pool includes a Tuscan grill, pizza oven and wine refrigerator.
“The unrivaled view of Mount Saint Helena from the home, especially from patio in the tower makes sunsets with a glass of wine unforgettable,” says Hayden.
The estate is amenity loaded—swimming pool, lighted sport court (for basketball and tennis), a pro-style gym, skeet shooting range, bocce ball court, and of course the exceptional equestrian facility with stables, an enclosed arena, meandering horseback riding trails, offices, and staff residences.
If that’s not enough, outdoor enthusiasts can fly board, fish, boat and swim in the large pond or canoe in the property’s two streams. Yes, retirement has been good to Joe and Jennifer, who were unavailable for comment due to another vacation. It’s a safe bet the trinkets they’ll bring home won’t fit into a suitcase or carry-on.
Villa Montana’s guest house doubles as an art studio, offering two bedrooms, one bath, an outdoor spa and jacuzzi. The caretaker’s cottage has two bedrooms and two baths.
Who’d want to leave all this behind? An empty nesting couple winning in the third quarter of life, that’s who. The Montanas are entering a new life phase.
With four grown children, they’ve relocated to San Francisco where clutch “Joe Cool” captained the 49ers dynasty in the 1980s. There, his venture capital firm, Liquid 2 Ventures, invests in start-ups, including a recent $75 million stake in the emerging legal marijuana industry.
The couple last listed Villa Montana on the luxury real estate market in 2009 and 2012 (for $49 million and $35 million respectively) but, urged by their children, they ultimately held onto the home for another decade.
Now back on the market, Villa Montana is up for grabs. This may be Joe’s best pass ever—if he finds someone who will keep Villa Montana in good hands. Did you hear that Jerry Rice?