In Japanese, the word amaya is written with characters that mean “heavenly valley.” Fittingly, the striking Japanese-inspired contemporary estate known as Amaya, occupies some 41 hillside acres in Northern California’s wine country. Dramatic vistas of deep verdant valleys, vineyard-speckled mountains, and a rare north-end view of the serene Lake Hennessey can be observed from nearly every pocket of the generous property. Set at the secluded end of a gated driveway, yet 10 minutes to downtown St. Helena, the perks of privacy are coupled with convenience to all Napa Valley has to offer.
Japanese influences continue in the use of shou sugi ban wood—created with an 18th-century Japanese waterproofing technique by which the surface of wood—in this case, cedar—is charred, rendering it a deep, rich charcoal-black hue. This distinctive choice was among many others made during the creation of this home and its extensive renovation by Juancarlos Fernandez of Signum Architecture, who was inspired by Meiji-era homes in Japan. The original construction incorporated wood, steel, and glass into the estate’s multiple structures—a main residence, a studio, a spacious guesthouse, and a guest studio offering a total of seven bedrooms—all of which benefit from truly enviable views and display a reverence for both contemporary architecture and the glorious natural surroundings.
The unique design of the main residence allows it to serve equally well as a peaceful private retreat and a venue for grand entertaining. It features living, dining, family, and great rooms filled with light from walls of glass—many of which give way to covered and open-air decks—and a streamlined chef’s kitchen equipped with a full complement of appliances from Wolf, Sub-Zero, and Miele. Deliberately designed for more secluded entertainment, the home theater offers a Sony 4K projector and a Sonance surround sound system. Private quarters—three generous, light-filled suites with expansive views—are tucked away on the upper level. Two additional bedrooms, a shared bath, a kitchenette and bar, a wine cellar, and a living and dining room are located on the ground level, allowing for an effortless flow to the alluring swimming pool terrace.
The studio is composed of a study that opens to a patio and a swath of lawn, a gym and meditation room, and a three-car garage. Steps from the main residence, the guesthouse is nestled amid native flora that creates a natural curtain of privacy. In addition to its two bedroom suites, it offers a living and dining room and a sunny kitchen. The adjoining guest studio includes abundant storage space and its own two-car garage.
Seemingly no technological amenity has been overlooked: the estate is equipped with energy-efficient Nest thermostats, electronic shades, custom Lutron lighting, Sonos sound systems, and radiant floor heating, all of which can be controlled from nearly anywhere by smartphone or tablet.
Just as the homes’ walls of glass blur the line between indoors and out, alfresco living is enthusiastically encouraged here by lounging and dining areas, an outdoor kitchen, a tennis court, a soothing heated saltwater pool, an orchard, an olive grove, raised vegetable garden beds, and various perches for appreciating the stellar views. The acreage is threaded with walking trails for further appreciation of the spacious property and those heavenly valleys in the distance.