Suisun Valley ‘villa’ offers wine county lifestyle at half the price of Napa | Local News



Villa De Madre outside front

Villa De Madre, and located at 4286 Suisun Valley Road near Solano Community College in Fairfield, is for sale for $12.9 million.

Submitted photo

Just five miles from the Napa County border sits an 80-acre estate that elicits the same reaction from almost everyone who sees it:

Wow to the six-bedroom 22,882-square-foot mansion decorated with painted murals and gold trimmed walls.

Wow to the car ‘barn’ that can fit dozens of cars.

Wow to the two other car barns.

Wow to the 1950s-era replica diner, the auto shop, the 68 acres of Cabernet vines, the skeet shooting range and the indoor swimming pool.

Named Villa De Madre, and located at 4286 Suisun Valley Road near Solano Community College in Fairfield, the estate has been listed for sale for a number of years. The current asking price is $12.9 million.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” said listing agent Bill Doyle of Pacific Union International Inc. in San Francisco. And, “It’s just a hop, skip and a jump to Napa.”

The custom home was built for Willis J. Johnson, the founder of Copart, Inc., and his wife Joyce. Construction was completed in 2002.

Copart, an auto-parts auction business, was headquartered in Fairfield until 2012. The company moved its company headquarters to Texas in 2012. The Johnsons now live in Tennessee.

While the couple has a large family and grown children, Johnson and his wife were the primary residents of Villa De Madre. Johnson’s mother also lived on the property, in her own several-thousand-square-foot “wing” which was attached to the main house via a private entrance.

The mansion is only five miles from the Napa County border, but what a difference those five miles makes.


Villa De Madre interior with two stories

Villa De Madre, located at 4286 Suisun Valley Road near Solano Community College in Fairfield, features this grand “great” room.

Submitted photo

According to Doyle, if such a home was located in Napa Valley, “it would have sold for $40 million by now, at least.”


Villa De Madre from above

Villa De Madre, with surrounding vineyards, viewed from above. The estate is in Fairfield. 

Submitted photo

“All of the attributes — the house size, the lot size, the acres of vineyards — we rarely see these offered together” in Napa Valley, said Stefan Jezycki, a Realtor with Pacific Union International in Napa.

“We really don’t have much like that here,” Jezycki said. If there was, the house alone might be in the $24 million range, he said.

“If it was in Napa they would likely turn those car garages into a winery and with 79 acres planted the price in Napa would be $22,000,000 or higher,” said Cheri Stanley, a Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty in Napa.

Bob Frappia, a realtor with of RE/MAX Gold of Napa, said that size of parcel is hard to buy in Napa Valley these days. The cost of the vineyard acreage alone would be staggering, while the house itself could sell for on the $20 million range, he said.

To compare, the most expensive home currently for sale in Napa is located at 101 Rutherford Hill Road in St. Helena. Listed for $25 million, the living space totals 12,795 square feet and the property totals 21 acres.


Villa De Madre staircase

The grand staircase at Villa De Madre in Fairfield. 

Submitted photo

“You’re getting 80 acres of prime vineyard land for half the price of Napa, at least,” Frappia said. At the same time, the Villa De Madre could be perfect for someone who wants to get into the wine business without paying Napa Valley prices.

Even though it’s not in Napa County, “It’s very close,” said Doyle. “The property is only about 18 minutes from Napa.”

“Napa has a ring to it,” Doyle acknowledged. However, “There’s a lot of money in Fairfield — it’s amazing.”

Perhaps someone who has been out-priced by Napa Valley real estate “will come over and grab this,” said Doyle. “It just takes one person. With the money.”

Doyle described the mansion as luxurious.

The interior of the home begins with a show-stopping double winding staircase with custom-made grape motif iron balustrades. Hand-painted ceilings and murals are seen throughout. A several-thousand-square-foot great room features 40-foot ceilings.

Designed in a traditional Mediterranean style, the upstairs includes his and hers private offices off the master suite, an expansive master bath with marble/tile steam shower and designer fixtures. A personal exercise room and steam shower overlooks the pool.

Coffered cherry wood ceiling and cabinets fill the game/billiard room and adjoining bar. The mansion includes a climate controlled wine cave and an elevator.

The chef’s kitchen includes three ovens, three warming drawers, four dishwashers, two crispers, four freezer boxes, two ice boxes and two trash compacters, hand painted ceilings with painted wood cabinets, granite slab countertops and built-in step stools.


The main kitchen at Villa De Madre

The main kitchen at Villa De Madre in Fairfield. 

Submitted photo

The six bedroom suites include baths featuring limestone, travertine, marble or porcelain tile. There are also six fireplaces throughout Villa De Madre.


Villa De Madre Pool

Villa De Madre, located at 4286 Suisun Valley Road near Solano Community College in Fairfield, features this large indoor pool. 

An indoor pool “room” features the in-ground swimming pool, a spa, fireplace, built-in barbecue and enclosed patio/play area. Six skylights plus glass ceiling and fans work to remove humidity.

Johnson was an avid car collector. There are a total of three buildings that can accommodate as many as 100 vehicles, plus the retro diner, an antique gas station and full maintenance bay area.

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Johnson reportedly had dedicated staff just to maintain his expansive fleet of classic autos, hot rods and muscle cars.


Villa De Madre car barn with many cars

One of three car “barns” at Villa De Madre in Fairfield. The owner is a car collector. 

Submitted photo

A row of faux Main Street “storefronts” including a drugstore, market, John Deere dealership and bait and tackle shop decorate one wall of a car barn.


Villa De Madre Diner

A replica 1950s style diner is also part of Villa De Madre in Fairfield. 

Submitted photo

“He used to give lots of parties for charities,” explained Doyle.

The property also includes a four-bedroom manager cottage near the front gate, olive groves that produce olive oil, a greenhouse and that skeet shooting range.

“It’s a city,” said Doyle of the amenities within the expansive property.

Of course, such elaborate and ornate styling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, admitted Doyle.

With cosmetic changes, the interior could be redesigned, he said.

“The property is beautiful,” but some might consider the ornate interior design is somewhat dated, said Stanley.

A property that has been so customized to one owner can become a bit of a white elephant, said Frappia of RE/MAX Gold of Napa.

“It’s going to take a special person” to appreciate that type of décor and amenities, Frappia said.

“It has great potential,” said Doyle.

Originally priced at $22 million, the price has been steadily reduced over time. But, it’s not a fire sale, said Doyle.

“They want to sell it because it’s a big responsibility and they don’t want that anymore. It’s not a burden on them at all.”

“We’ve had multiple offers but nothing seems to gel” yet, said Doyle. “It’s nothing to do with the house,” he said. “It’s always financing. They fall in love with it and they can’t afford it. We need someone with ample cash and the wherewithal to keep the property up.”

The estate was custom-built by Sutton Construction and completed in 2002. A staff of about five, including gardener, housekeeper and estate manager, maintain the property today, said Doyle.

The Realtor said that when people ask how much it costs just to maintain the house, his reply is: “If you have to ask you can’t afford it.”

Doyle said the Johnsons decided to relocate to Tennessee in part because of tax reasons.

The couple later bought the former estate of country singer Alan Jackson. That property, located in Franklin, not far from Nashville, was reportedly purchased for $28 million.

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