TO NAPA VALLEY locals, it had been known simply as “the Victorian on the hill.” Not much was certain about what awaited inside should a buyer come along, or its history, apart from a rumor that it had once operated as a speakeasy in the 1920s. As it turned out, this rumor was true.
This was just one installment in the property’s 180-year history that has been discovered, beginning in 1841 when it was a just small portion of English physician Edward Bale and wife Maria Sobereanes’ 17,000-acre estate. It would later become a family winery led by manufacturer and importer Frederick Henry “Fritz” Rosenbaum and his two sons and then home to Dr. James H. O’Connor. Though it was acquired by the doctor and his wife to function as a sanitarium for the cure of tuberculosis patients, it instead operated as a speakeasy where wine and spirits were manufactured, stored, and “prescribed” by the doctor at the height of Prohibition. Following a period of disrepair, it wasn’t until 1962 that a new guard of winemakers began to rehabilitate the land, most recently as the St. Clement Winery, founded in 1976.
A NEW CHAPTER began in 2017 when Faust decided to make this property its home, just 30 minutes down the road from our Coombsville vineyard. Some three years later, after an extensive renovation, the Faust Haus was completed last summer, and this exclusive first look serves as its grand debut.
Led by a team of revered creative minds, this three-year overhaul sought to create a new home for Faust, full of craftsmanship, creativity, and above all, character. “We didn’twant this to be like any other Napa Valley tasting room,” says Estate Manager Jen Beloz. “We wanted to push the boundaries of what was possible.”
THE PROCESS OF breathing new life into the home was led by architect David Darling, of Aidlin Darling Design, who started by modernizing the space through new structural elements, carefully implemented so as to maintain the soul of the home. “Our design was meant to preserve the history of the site but noticeably change it,” Darling says. “And the sort of subtext to that is changing the paradigm of the wine tasting experience in Napa Valley. This is not a stuffy or pretentious place whatsoever.”
This included a reconfiguration of bearing walls and quite literally raising the roof to reveal portions of the attic, providing a vaulted effect on the home’s top floor. The same attention to detail was paid to the winding staircase that greets guests upon entering. After being delicately stripped, it was painstakingly redesigned in an ombré pattern alongside a mural by Italian-born and Paris-based artist Roberto Ruspoli, leading guests from dark to light as they explore the upper floors. “We wanted to create a very tranquil, unpretentious space,” Darling says. “We connected with this concept of moving from darkness to light, and pursuing a state of enlightenment, which I think you can really feel throughout.”
FROM THE LIBRARY to the lounge to the cellar, each room is dotted with an ever-expanding collection of curiosities, curated by Maca Huneeus Design, that bring life tothis old Victorian home. “We partnered with an amazing team of creative designers, because as passionate as we are about our wines, they are about their craft,” Beloz adds. “And there really are layers to this home. Guests are always finding new nooks andcrannies and moments they hadn’t experienced before.”
The result, all together, is a charming hideaway for us all to gather and celebrate the fruits of our labor for many years to come.