Sonoma mansion sells for $14.75 million, one of the priciest home sales in county history

A San Francisco family bought the 18-acre Aerie Estate, rebuilt by Kenwood’s Jon Reiter, a symbol of the strong luxury home market despite the pandemic.|

The wooded 18-acre site atop a hill northeast of Sonoma had Jon and Susan Reiter’s name all over it. An unbuilt tract among several others owned by members of the same family was calling out for someone to bring out its luster.

A couple of years ago, nearby owners on Admiral Cooke Lane brought the potential residential project to the attention of the Reiters, who own Reiter Fine Home Building in Kenwood.

“It took us something like nine months between cutting trees and clearing the brush,” builder Jon Reiter said. “You couldn’t even see what was there. But you could tell it was something.”

The Reiters turned that something into Aerie Estate, a mansion they sold last month to a San Francisco family for $14.75 million, one of the most expensive home sales in Sonoma County history.

The new owners were moving in Friday and didn’t want to be identified so he declined to name them.

Both he and real estate agent Carol Sebastiani said the family intends to use the home to work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic and later as a second home.

Sebastiani said similar North Bay luxury properties have been in demand as the virus has changed the way we work, live and interact with others.

“The new normal that’s going on due to the pandemic is creating the desire for people to be up in the Wine Country and have a little bit more breathing room,” she said.

The Aerie, dubbed such because it’s like a bird’s nest built high on the hill, comes with a jaw-dropping list of features:

  • Panoramic views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Diablo, San Pablo Bay, Treasure Island and Mount Tamalpais
  • A 6,400-square-foot main house centered around an open great room with exposed steel trusses and a floor-to-ceiling glass wall that opens to a patio
  • A six-bedroom, 6.5 bath main house with a wine cellar and guest house
  • A vanishing-edge infinity pool with outdoor kitchen and bar
  • A “party barn” complete with a 1955 restored Chevrolet truck

Oh, and there’s also a 1-acre vineyard of 3-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon grapes plus a helipad.

Sebastiani said what made this property unique was that it was new construction and ready to move into for the buyers.

“It hit every single mark,” the real estate agent said. “It’s rare to be on a location where you’ve got such dramatic views, but have so much usable acreage. You’ve got enough room for family and friends. It’s really very thoughtful with how everything is laid out.”

That credit goes to Susan Reiter, whose specialty is designing their small custom homebuilding company’s projects. The couple completes one home every three or four years, Jon Reiter said.

While the Aerie’s hefty price tag will make most people’s eyes pop, it is not the most expensive home sold in the Sonoma area.

In 2010, Sebastiani and fellow real estate agent Ginger Martin, who also partnered in this deal, completed what may be the record high sale countywide for a homesite. In that transaction, Sanford “Sandy” Weill and his wife, Joan, paid $31 million for a 362-acre Tuscan-inspired estate.

Weill, from New York, is the former chief executive of global banking company Citigroup. He is a member of the advisory board of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat and myriad other print and digital media publications.

While Napa County estates just over the hill to the east often fetch even more money, the Aerie Estate still ranks among the priciest in Sonoma County. Having vast acreage or established vineyards can considerably bump up an asking price.

Tim Freeman of Vanguard Properties has a Canyon Road property, adjacent to the Weills’ estate listed for $12 million. The home comes with 60 acres.

Though the Aerie mansion sold after officially being listed for only two days, the property was no secret in the area’s luxury residential real estate market, he said.

“A house like that, everyone knows about,” Freeman said. “Anybody who has a buyer knows about it.”

He concurred with Sebastiani in describing the house as unique: “You can drive away and not need a full-time caretaker. You can manage it from your smartphone.”

The sale and its otherworldly price tag comes for many during a distressing financial time because of the pandemic.

With the national unemployment rate at more than 10% and Sonoma County’s at 11.5%, seeing a property sell for nearly $15 million is mere fantasy for most people.

While many are looking for “COVID relief” from the government, Freeman said, others have the ability to find their relief in the Sonoma hills with a panoramic view.

“There’s a lot of that happening,” he said of luxury home sales, though more commonly the houses sold are in the $2- to $4-million range. “Clearly not everyone has the pocketbook to make that happen.”

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or On Twitter @loriacarter.

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