It’s a typical Saturday at the home of Kevin and Holly Brown. Mr. Brown dries off the patio from last night’s rain while Mrs. Brown makes coffee and 13-year-old Parker watches YouTube videos in his room. Minutes later, more than 50 people stream through their front door.
The Browns live in a Mediterranean-style winery they built for $7 million on a 7-acre vineyard called Siren Song in Lake Chelan, Wash. It’s a buttercup-yellow stucco mansion with a red tiled roof, a stone tower and cornflower-blue shutters. Upstairs is a five-bedroom residence; downstairs is a large open kitchen, plus living, dining and bar areas, and a massive stone veranda overlooking the lake.
The estate is an architectural departure in this small lakeside town, about a three-hour drive from Seattle and the heart of one of Washington’s fastest growing wine regions. The homes tend to be what’s called Northwest style, with lots of unpainted wood, and the hotels, though around $300 a night, are old-fashioned, slightly shabby lodges. Until the late 1990s, the main agricultural crop here was apples. But when over-production of apples caused a sharp decline in price, many growers in Washington State turned to growing wine grapes instead.
In the years before they bought the vineyard, the Browns had been gradually venturing into the world of food and wine. Mr. Brown, 59, a Seattle tech executive known for his roles at software companies such as Tableau and Visio Corporation, had started to make and sell his own wine, first in the basement of his West Seattle home and then in a shared custom crush facility. Mrs. Brown, 53, also a tech executive, had set up several Ben & Jerry’s franchises and started a lifestyle website with a cooking show.
In 2010, after years of riding their bikes by the lot where their winery now stands, always stopping to admire the views, the couple put in an offer for half the $1.1 million asking price. Two years later, they got it for $580,000. The property had vineyards but no buildings and no infrastructure for power and electricity.
Initially, the Browns hired an architect to design just a winery with some guest rooms upstairs. But the crystal-clear lake, surrounded by mountains and fields, reminded them of Europe, where owners lived and worked on their wineries. They wanted to live there too.
Making the 3,966-square-foot upstairs into a five-bedroom residence doubled the cost of that part of the house to about $2.5 million. It meant adding a separate external entryway and parking lot, and putting in another kitchen and family room.
The renovation also added more windows, so that Mrs. Brown could always keep an eye on the winery downstairs. From her bedroom, she can look out on the wood-fired pizza oven; from her office she can see if the veranda chairs are askew.
Even when it’s packed, Siren Song feels less like a winery than a big comfortable hangout space. There are no standing tastings at the bar; instead, waitstaff bring samples of wine to tables. Visitors wander in and out of the big, warm downstairs kitchen where a massive marble bar doubles as a spot for cooking classes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard,” says Mr. Brown, who makes the wine and gives tasting lectures and production tours. The winery made 3,500 cases of wine this year, up from 1,200 last year, and their wine-club membership has grown to 600 from just 75 people a year ago.
The Browns, who moved to the house full time from Seattle in June, say they don’t mind the constant sound of clinking glasses that filters up to where they live. “I like it that people are having a good time,” says Parker.
Write to Nancy Keates at firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE FROM MANSION GLOBAL:
Follow Mansion Global:Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Messenger
Write to us: email@example.com