The Modern Man Cave, Wine Country Style

When guests visit the caves at the Hourglass Blue Line Estate in Calistoga, they take one look inside the interior chamber and sigh, “What a great man cave.” Vintner Jeff Smith and designer wife Carolyn Duryea wince a bit when they hear the term because they are anything but clichés.  When they acquired a highly coveted property in the Dutch Henry watershed in 2006, they hired SF architecht Ollie Lundberg of Lundberg Design to redefine the concept of what a winery should be, where the winemaking, not a tasting room, would be front and center.

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Photo by Douglas Sterling

Lundberg brought the production outside as a design statement, and let the “drama of the mountainside be the hero,” allowing the Smiths to reveal the essence of their wines in the most open, transparent way.  In the same way, this creative couple redefines the modern man cave not as a forbidden lair, but as an open and inviting space for all.

The chamber certainly has the individual elements of a traditional man cave, a sunken, football-shaped room, rugged walls, dim lighting and comfortable, oversized chairs.  The acoustics would make any sports fan with a wide-screen cry.  But that’s where the comparisons end.  For Carolyn, the contemporary cave dweller is a Renaissance man like Jeff, with a bit of the yin and yang, a guy who likes to get in touch with his creative side by cooking, playing guitar and making wine, all of which naturally leads to entertaining.

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The Smiths in front of the cave entrance surround composed of wine bottle bases

Carolyn creates the mood in the cave perfectly with a juxtaposition of colors, textures and styles that is as whimsical as it is bold, organic yet refined.  The weight of the dark Chesterfield sofa is lifted by the ethereal “Blossom” Swarovski chandelier by Tord Boontje.

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Wood, metal, stone. A vintage Bertoia and hand-carved chairs surround the marble table

Animal hides soften the strong 8’ x 4’ Brazilian blue marble table that Carolyn set on hydraulic lifts to create a myriad of moods depending on the occasion – from casual, low cocktail table to a formal dining table seating 10 comfortably and with extensions, up to 30.  The table, with its stunning blue veins, is symbolic of the two watershed streams that define the Blue Line Estate.

For Jeff, creativity is a mindset and a mood, and the design of the cave sets off a great creative energy that inspires him to play the guitar in the cave.  He thinks it would be a great venue to hold interactive roundtable dinners featuring artists and their inspirations.  Stay tuned for that.

The Hourglass Blue Line Estate in Calistoga is open for visits by appointment only.  Their signature wine is the Hourglass Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from their home vineyard in St. Helena.  From the Blue Line Estate, look for distinctive varietal Merlot and Cabernet Franc, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, wines that are as modern and elegant as the estate itself.

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