The Napa Chateau That Doogie Howser Built Lists for $8.5 Million
February 12, 2020
By James Tarmy February 12, 2020, 2:35 AM PST
Dayna Bochco, the spouse of late TV producer Steven Bochco, is selling her 47-acre weekend retreat
For years, Steven Bochco, the late writer and producer of TV shows including NYPD Blue, Doogie Howser, M.D., and L.A. Law, would go on weekend trips in Napa Valley with his wife, Dayna. “My husband was from New York City,” she says. “But he just fell in love with Northern California. It was different from what he was used to, but its charms grew on him.”
After spending a few years staying at hotels, the couple, who lived full time in Los Angeles, decided to buy, quickly homing in on a French country-style manse set on 47 acres in Oakville, a few minutes from the famous Opus One Winery. “It just seemed to have our name on it,” Bochco says. The property is about an hour-and-a-half drive from San Francisco and 20 minutes from downtown Napa.
The mansion was built in 2002, she says, and there was very little to do after they bought it in 2008. Their only addition was a guesthouse, which increased the property’s total interior square footage to about 5,600 square feet. The main house has three bedrooms and three and a half baths, while the guesthouse has two bedrooms and two baths.
“We’d go up almost once a month and spend three or four days there,” Bochco says. “It was a place to chill out.”
In 2014, Steven was diagnosed with leukemia, and though a bone marrow transplant initially worked, he suffered from several remissions. He died in 2018. Now, Bochco is putting the house on the market, listing it for $8.5 million with Ginger Martin of Sotheby’s International Realty and Hillary Ryan of Compass. “I’d never sell the place if he was still with me,” she says. “It was our place, and I still love it.”
The main house was only six years old when the couple purchased it, and “the guys we bought it from were designers themselves and had done an absolutely beautiful job,” Bochco says. “We bought a lot of the furnishings with the house—it just looked right. And then our designer Charles Allem came out a year or so later and freshened everything up.”
The couple entertained frequently. The layout when they bought the house contained a kitchen that was “very closed off,” she says. “We do a lot of cooking and sitting around the kitchen with our friends, so we opened it up to a seating and entertaining area that made it a little more fitted to our lifestyle.”
Continuing their hospitality-oriented modifications, they enlisted the son of the house’s original builder to build the guesthouse. “He had access to all the finishes his father had used,” including extensive wood details, “so all of it totally matched,” she says.
The couple often held parties—hosting about 100 people to celebrate a friend’s birthday one year—but Steven also used it as a place to write. “He was always writing,” Bochco says. “The way he wrote would be sitting in bed with a yellow pad and pencil.”
During their time there, her husband wrote episodes of TV shows including Raising the Bar and Murder in the First, as well as his memoir, Truth is a Total Defense: My Fifty Years in Television.
In keeping with the house’s light-filled, indoor/outdoor series of entertaining areas, the finishes are largely white or neutral colors.
The main living room has a French limestone floor and a dramatic, vaulted and beamed double-height roof; the dining room, which opens onto the terrace, has a more traditional coffered ceiling. The chef’s kitchen features wood paneling, granite counters, and a six-burner Viking range. (Bochco has already removed her furniture; the interior decor was staged for photographs.)
All the bedrooms are en suite. The master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling, fireplace, and two French doors that open onto the patio and pool.
Her husband, Bochco says, “was a city boy, but he didn’t like the city. Most people who live in New York get tired of it, and when he moved to Los Angeles, it was a huge change.”
But even L.A. didn’t prepare him for the house in Napa, which sits on top of a hill, surrounded by forests, and has views of cypresses, oaks, and, of course, vineyards. “He’d never lived in a place that was set in nature. You’re never far away from anything, but when you go home, you really feel you’re in the country.”
Neighbors on nearby mountains had chosen to start small vineyards, “but my husband always said he liked to drink wine, not grow it,” Bochco says. Instead, they put in a lovely olive grove with mature trees, which is set slightly down the hill from the home. “You go in the back, and everyone says, ‘Oh my god, it looks like we’re in Tuscany!’” she says. “It’s a view of rolling hills and gorgeous trees—it gives you the sense that you’re out there in the world by yourself.”
The house is set on a series of manicured terraces. The property includes a pool and spa, outdoor eating area, vine-covered pergola, and multiple seating and entertainment areas. Carefully manicured box hedges surround a large fountain, and giant lavender bushes line the terrace’s extensive stone walls. Vines grow over the building’s stucco exterior. The entire effect, Bochco says, “feels like a French country garden.”
Just as important, “we’re totally off the grid,” she says—or rather, the house can be. It’s equipped with a 15.2kW solar energy system, but is tied into the grid for backup. There’s also a well on the property.
Bochco continued to use the house after her husband’s death, but she says that “in the long run it, it will be much better to unplug.” The property, though, will be hard to give up.
“I just wish I could sell it to someone I know,” she says. “And then say, ‘Hey, can I come up?’”