When iconic Napa Valley winemaker Rob Mondavi Jr. and his wife Lydia were choosing the locale for their new family vacation retreat, they both knew they wanted a home on the water where they could go out and fish, and teach their young son Robert, 11, how to shrimp.
“We wanted to be able to bring in the catch of the day and cook it up in the kitchen together,” says Lydia.
The couple, who moved to Napa, Calif., from Atlanta, Ga., when they first met, had been vacationing in the South and looked for about six years to find the perfect place to build a small and private hideaway.
Being a multi-generational vintner, Rob wanted a beach escape where they could entertain in a relaxed and gracious way, and in a home that reconnected them to Lydia’s South Carolina ancestral heritage.
“There is something so beautiful about the people here, and the way of life,” says Rob, adding they both especially liked the casual elegance of the Lowcountry, the state’s popular coastal region.
After looking at various areas, including Charleston and Savannah, they found a piece of coastal land in Beaufort, S.C., in May 2013 and started building. The result is a beautiful new home on the banks of Port Royal Sound where the Beaufort River meets the Atlantic Ocean. “The master bedroom is completely oceanfront and has a screen porch so it feels like you are on the water,” says Lydia.
When the couple has guests, they can enjoy a relaxed glass of champagne on their porch and watch the sunset before joining the party. “We can retreat within our retreat,” explains Rob.
In their master closet, there’s also a Thermador built-in wine preservation column, as well as a coffee maker for morning espressos on the porch.
Calm outdoor spaces allow The Mondavi’s to relax and appreciate the sublime waterfront views
The design of the home, not surprisingly, focuses on the spectacular water views. “We didn’t want to lose any of that when you go into the master bedroom and master bathroom,” says Rob. They worked with Kohler to design a bathroom that has windows within the showers and ocean views from the tub.
The Mondavis also designed a full outdoor bathroom with a shower, vanity and toilet. “I wanted somewhere we could rinse off outside, like a little beach bathhouse we could use right after being on the boat,” says Rob.
The home’s design includes pathways with stairs to the beach and the boat dock made of Trex, a non-slip, non-wood and highly durable outdoor flooring. “We tried to think about all the wear and tear on an oceanfront property with the sun, wind and ocean,” adds Rob. They also wrapped columns of the house in Trex, which means not having to repaint and replace the natural wood every three years.
An easy to maintain home was important to the couple who are passionate about sustainable living principles. Their Mondavi Home Collection (launched in January 2014) includes four floor styles made from decommissioned French oak wine casks – once used to make Mondavi wine – in partnership with Authentic Reclaimed Flooring.
The floors throughout the new Beaufort home are Mondavi’s Choice reclaimed heart pine, sourced from the Old Crow Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky, as well as hardware from Lydia’s grandparents’ home.
They installed Thermador Custom Panel Star-Sapphire dishwashers – “we always seem to go throughout a lot of wine glasses,” says Rob – and two clothes driers to get everything done faster.
“Laundry is always a challenge when you are trying to pack up and leave a holiday home,” says Rob. Other new Thermador appliances include a Pro Grand Steam Range in the kitchen, and modular wine preservation columns in the wine gallery to safeguard fine vintages.
The new home, designed by Atlanta-based Reu Architects and built by Beaufort custom homebuilder Allen Patterson Residential, had to be practical.
“We are constantly dragging surf boards, fishing rods and toys, and we didn’t want to nick the corners of trim detail or crown moldings in the house,” says Lydia, whose mother, interior decorator Anita Wilbanks, used Benjamin Moore’s super-high-gloss and eco-friendly paint on trims and interior doors.
“My mother chose soft neutral colors based on looking at the ocean at low tide, so we have soft blues and greens representing the oyster shells glistening in the water and Spanish moss hanging over the water and wet sand,” says Lydia.
The family spends most of its time in the kitchen and great room that are designed as one area where French doors open onto a waterfront porch. Large floor-to- ceiling windows frame the beautiful water views beyond.
“We just flow back and forth – you can’t tell if you are outside or inside,” says Lydia. They also installed a sliding door of reclaimed tank wood. “You can see the age of the wine on one side, and the exterior of aged wood too,” she adds.
The family kitchen, where the Mondavis like to cook just-caught seafood, follows form and function with natural quartz countertops and a Silestone by Cosentino kitchen island. Hand-cut and glazed Ann Sacks terracotta tiles, crafted in Morocco, are used on the backsplash.
Rob is a passionate cook – as a child he got to chop vegetables with family guest Julia Child – and had firm ideas on the kitchen, including having a powerful ventilation/exhaust system for the stove and range. They opted for a Thermador system that is noiseless and stylish.
The house is under 3,000 square feet, but has five bedrooms, including a carriage house with a connecting screen porch to the main house.
“The idea of a family retreat is to be together, and to be comfortable and cozy, but for everyone to have their own space to retreat to,” says Rob.
Perhaps the best aspect of all is the new home’s waterfront setting. “This is one of the most pristine estuaries in all of America,” says Rob. “We get beautiful red fish, speckled trout, and of course, there’s shrimp and stone crab where we are. It’s a bounty and something we just don’t get in Napa.” mondavihome.com
Image Credits: Photos by Josh Gibson and Jack Hutch.