Vineyard Estate


I was called in for swimming pool inspection in Glen Ellen.  A $9 million dollar vineyard estate in the Napa Valley with an 8,000 sq. ft. main house, five bedrooms and six and half baths.  This was a first in numerous ways, one being I was told to name my fee when I was finished.  I set out with all my paraphernalia and even though I had several advance pictures of the estate, it was absolutely breathtaking upon arrival.  Yes, I had to go through a security gate with a camera and it was opened by an offsite cell phone.

Numerous beautiful buildings with impressive driveways are set on a hill that overlooks the San Francisco Bay in one direction and the Napa Valley in another.  Both views can be seen from the bleachers overlooking the tennis courts.

I made a concerted effort not to look like a hillbilly in Las Vegas for the first time.  I have to admit when it came to turning on the various features of the swimming pool and the separate tiled hot tub, I was at a loss.  The switches blinked, the controls refused to function and I could locate nothing that would change the situation.  Fortunately, both the listing Realtor and the selling Realtor were on the acreage.  I’m certain they could afford to devote their full attention to just this one sale.  Neither realtor could offer any suggestions until the listing realtor said “Just a minute and I’ll call the owner” (somewhere in the world -- he lives in Europe).  When she reached him on the phone, she said to me “He is turning them on now -- see if he makes the connection.”  Everything turned on immediately.  The owner had turned on the pool equipment from his SmartPhone.  Yep, it all worked just fine.  I learned he also watched us running around his property as he has cameras everywhere.  I only spotted one.

Then the realtor asked me if I knew anything about wine caves.  “As a matter of fact, I do” I said.  I lived just off of Silverado Trail in Napa before moving up to Lake County.  I’ve been in several of them and I saw one being built a few years ago.

I had the Service Agreement and the Pool Spa Agreement but I didn’t have a Wine Cave Agreement.  Nevertheless I forged ahead.  When I entered the wine cave and started my inspection, I discovered I could select my choice of music coming over the ceiling mounted stereo, with touch screen controls on a digital pad complete with the pictures of the group providing the music.  I had some questions.  So, I called my good friend Peter Ventura, attorney and Robert Mondavi’s nephew, who has years of experience in Napa Valley Wine making.  I told him what I was doing and asked him if there was something important I might be overlooking.  He gave me a couple of tips like the year round temperature conditions, a non HVAC assisted constant of about 54–55 degrees, etc.

After all these years, I am left wondering just what my E&O insurance covers.