Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch has closed on his purchase of the Moraga Vineyards estate in the hills above Bel-Air for a tidy $28.8 million.
The 82-year-old chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox acquired the picturesque property from Tom Jones, former chief executive of the Northrop Corp., and his wife, Ruth. The real estate transaction closed on Tuesday, Murdoch’s spokesperson confirmed.
The 16-acre estate -- which sits five miles from the Pacific Ocean and can be seen from the 405 Freeway -- is a rare trophy property in Los Angeles. Moraga was the first commercial winery to be bonded in the city of Los Angeles after Prohibition ended in 1933, according to the winery’s website.
Asking price for the Moraga estate had been a full-bodied $29.5 million.
The property also includes an 8,000-square foot home and lush gardens.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Victor Fleming, the acclaimed director of such Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer classics as “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind,” owned the site. He plotted a horse ranch there in the late 1930s and completed work on the property in the early 1940s, after finishing “The Wizard of Oz.”
Jones and his wife purchased the property in 1959. When Jones learned the Moraga Canyon had deep gravel soil, he was intrigued enough to try to grow some Bordeaux varietals. Annual rainfall in the Moraga Canyon is about 24 inches, compared with 15 inches for downtown Los
Moraga wines now are sold in some of the region’s high-brow restaurants, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, Spago, Patina and Morton’s Steakhouse.
Murdoch gleefully announced his intent to buy the winery on Twitter in early May, even before he had signed on the dotted line. But the media baron’s acquisition soon got tangled in bureaucracy: Murdoch had to wait to take control of the property until the state of California issued him a license to manufacture and sell liquor.