Chateau and Villa Tours Showcase Opulent Style

Looking for a luxury break in your humdrum weekend? Try going north or south. Showcase tours in two locations--Santa Ynez and Palos Verdes--offer a blend of dramatic architecture, opulent design and gourmet dining.

In Santa Ynez, more than 20 interior and landscape designers are putting the finishing touches on a 17,000-square-foot country French chateau.

"This design showcase is unusual because it not a preexisting historic home but a brand-new home," said showcase spokesman Chris Davis. "It's being built by Teri and John Harmon, financial planners who are moving back from Orange County to Santa Ynez, which is her hometown."

Surrounded by rolling acres of vineyards, the estate includes a pool house, sunken tennis court, and herb and formal rose gardens.

Tours run July 10 to Aug. 8 and hours are Tuesday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays.

Tickets are $20. Parking will be at the Solvang Outlet Mall, with shuttle service to the estate. Proceeds will benefit two Santa Ynez Valley charities: People Helping People and the Education Fund for the Solvang Rotary Club.

Information: (805) 686-5910 or

On the Palos Verdes Peninsula, four lavish homes will be featured in a July 10-11 tour to benefit the Palos Verdes Art Center. The centerpiece is Villa LaBarba, a 14,700-square-foot Italian villa on a bluff surrounded by vineyards, palms, roses and fountains.

Tours, which include lunch in the gardens, are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 after Monday, and may be purchased at the art center, 5504 W. Crestridge Road. Information: (310) 541-2479.

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