Is Rupert Murdoch Buying a $30M Bel-Air Winery?

Rupert Murdoch Bel-Air Winery - H 2013
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Rupert Murdoch Bel-Air Winery - H 2013

A story in the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal drew the mogul's attention to the 13-acre Moraga Vineyards.

This story first appeared in the March 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch scouted his next potential ego purchase within the pages of one of his own media outlets: the Feb. 8 Private Properties real estate column in The Wall Street Journal.

A source close to Murdoch tells THR the mogul read about Moraga Vineyards, a one-of-a-kind, 13-acre Bel-Air estate first owned during the 1930s by Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz director Victor Fleming that had just gone on the market for $29.5 million. The property features a 7,500-square-foot main home, but Murdoch already has an even larger spread in Beverly Hills. 

Rather, the key attraction is the fully functioning and staffed namesake winery, developed beginning in the late 1970s by current owner Tom Jones, the former CEO of aerospace giant Northrop. It produces 1,500 cases of vino a year out of a 2,300-square-foot on-site facility ($4 million worth of inventory will be included in the sale). 

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Moraga was the first commercial winery bonded by Los Angeles since the end of Prohibition, and it's the only working vineyard in the city. Its Napa-worthy blends, grown from Bordeaux varietal grapes, are available at noted Westside wine store Wally's -- a six-liter bottle of the 1994 vintage, which received a respectable 89 points from renowned grape critic Robert Parker, is going for $1,756.

Sources say Murdoch, busy in recent days clarifying his disinterest in purchasing The Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times, has begun looking into the property. When THR approached him during Oscar weekend and asked if a winery purchase is in his future, he said no, then added, "not yet."

The vineyard, whose listing is represented by Jim Kline of Surterre Properties of Newport Beach, Calif., declined comment.