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Rupert Murdoch buys Moraga Vineyards estate in Bel Air

Rupert Murdoch has just popped the cork on a deal to buy a rare trophy property in Los Angeles: the 16-acre Moraga Vineyards estate, located in the hills above Bel Air.

The billionaire media mogul announced his purchase on Twitter on Friday afternoon: "About to celebrate buying beautiful small vineyard right in LA. Great wine, Moraga, owned by great Angelino, Tom Jones, Time cover, 1961!"

Murdoch did not reveal the purchase price.

The listing price for the Santa Monica Mountains property, which can be glimpsed from the 405 Freeway, was just a tasteful sip below $30 million, according to The Times' Daily Dish blog

Jim Kline, the listing agent with Surterre Properties of Newport Beach, declined to comment on the sale when reached Friday night. Kline confirmed the listing price was $29.5 million.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported in February that Murdoch was sniffing around the property after reading about the vineyard in one of his company's properties, the Wall Street Journal.

A spokesperson for Murdoch declined to comment Friday.

According to the winery’s website, Moraga was the first commercial winery to be bonded in the city of Los Angeles after Prohibition ended in 1933.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the property was a horse ranch owned by Victor Fleming, the director of such Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer classics as "Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz." Fleming began developing the property in 1937 and completed it in 1940 after finishing "The Wizard of Oz."

Such Hollywood luminaries as Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Ingmar Bergman and Spencer Tracy were frequently invited to the estate.

Tom Jones, the most recent property owner, is former chief executive of the Northrop Corp., a position he held for 30 years. He was featured on the cover of an issue of Time magazine 52 years ago. 

Jones and his wife, Ruth, bought the 16-acre property in 1959. They have lived there since then. 

Elevation of the vineyard, which sits five miles from the Pacific Ocean, is 600 to 900 feet. Annual rainfall is 24 inches, compared with 15 inches in downtown Los Angeles.

When Jones learned Moraga Canyon had deep gravel soil, he was intrigued enough to try growing some Bordeaux varietals on his land — Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Moraga wines are sold in some of Los Angeles' toniest restaurants, including the Bel Air Country Club, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Patina, Spago, and Morton's Steakhouse.

According to Forbes magazine, Murdoch's net worth is estimated at $11.2 billion.

ALSO:

Moraga Vineyards in Bel Air is for sale

News Corp. publishing firm to start with $2.6 billion in cash

With company split, Rupert Murdoch's pay to reach $28.3 million

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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