Land ownership, always the proud symbol of wealth and prestige, is like any resource: finite and scarce. Large private estates are increasingly rare as rural development around the globe continues apace. For those lucky enough to live on 100 acres or more, the advantages of owning a big piece of land are many: unrivaled access to nature, room to expand a sizable home or raise a family—and enough seclusion and privacy for social distancing to become second nature. Big country also offers unparalleled field and stream sports, the equestrian lifestyle, and the microeconomics of animal husbandry, farming, and winemaking. Even so, self-sufficient living in wide-open spaces doesn’t mean going without the creature comforts of more settled places—as these seven dream properties on 100 acres or more so eloquently attest.
Château in Brittany, Finistere, France
This magnificently spired, towered, and turreted gothic castle is surrounded by nearly 100 acres of wooded parkland along the River Aven in southern Brittany. Built and developed between the 15th and the 18th centuries, the limestone structure fell into disrepair until extensive restoration and renovation over the last 20 years brought it into the 21st century. During the restoration, every stone of the 11,302-square-foot castle was carefully dismantled, cleaned, repaired, fully winged then reinstated by a crew of stonemasons. They also created a granite quarry on the property to acquire new stone. The artisans’ contemporary touches nevertheless respect the structure’s antiquity. Among the medieval features are the original solid-stone spiral staircase and a great room with a monumental limestone fireplace and beamed ceiling. There are several original buildings, including a 15th-century chapel and circular monks’ tower, said to have been used for introspection and penning religious manuscripts. Also gracing the estate are beehives, a flax-drying shed with terrace, a detached guest house, a 2,153-square-foot game room, a newly built wooden barn, a large garage and workshop, and ample staff accommodations.
Stonewall Farm in Westchester County, New York
Situated on 18 deeded parcels of 740 contiguous acres, Stonewall Farm is the largest privately owned property in Westchester County. The world-class equestrian facilities, which comprise a 40-stall yearling barn, two 24-stall broodmare barns, and a turf racetrack, are dedicated to raising championship racehorses. The property also includes an owner’s compound, guest house, pool pavilion, superb grounds, and a cattle ranch. Over four decades, owners Barry K. Schwartz, co-founder of the Calvin Klein global fashion empire, and his wife, Sheryl, created an estate of refined elegance and exceptional taste. At the heart of the private demesne is a custom-built 24,000-square-foot Colonial-style manor house. The interiors, designed by Kelly Hoppen, include a luxurious two-story library and a third-floor owner’s suite with a Japanese-inspired indoor garden. Outside, meticulously tended formal grounds, orchards, woodlands, paved trails, and ponds await. The property is a world away from the hustle of the city, yet within an hour of Manhattan and Belmont Park.
MorDo Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona
A coveted modern West lifestyle awaits in the glorious Sonoran Desert at MorDo Ranch. Just minutes from downtown Scottsdale, Arizona, this 101-plus-acre horse ranch offers world-class equestrian facilities, a pool and cabana, tennis court, and shooting range—even an art museum. At the center of the property is a grand estancia home built in the Argentinian tradition with an open floor plan, cool interior spaces, and exterior courtyards, perfect for entertaining. The magnificent stone and stucco residence echoes the colors of the desert, changing with the light of day. It provides 8,700 square feet or elegant, light-filled living spaces, including a great room with living area, dining area, and library; two offices; two main suites with dual dressing rooms, a spa, and sauna; and two separate guest suites. Additional structures include two managers’ homes and a greenhouse. Beyond the landscaped gardens, the pool, tennis court, and shooting range are the exceptional equestrian facilities that include a 10-stall barn, two corrals, and four 5-acre pastures. MorDo Ranch also comes with a 100-year assured water supply, an exceptionally valuable asset in the arid Southwest.
Wine Estate in Franschhoek, South Africa
This wine estate encompasses nearly 114 acres in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley on South Africa’s Western Cape. The property sits on one of the original farms settled by the Huguenots in the late 1600s. Today, the terroir-driven vineyards produce top-rated, award-winning Bordeaux varietals. The traditional lines and tile roof of the main house conceal more than 10,000 square feet of dazzlingly contemporary living space, with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. These airy, open spaces look out to a cool covered veranda, sundeck, and a resort-inspired pool and parklike grounds, with the rolling valley floor framed by the Groot Drakenstein mountain range to the south and vineyard valleys to the north. Cape Town is just an hour’s drive.
Shining Hand Ranch in Ashland, Oregon
A nature lover’s paradise, Shining Hand Ranch occupies a 700-acre parcel of unspoiled Oregon wilderness. The design of the main house blurs the boundaries between indoors and out with generous windows permitting vistas across the property and bespoke detailing inspired by nature: the copper tree sculptures at the entrance, the custom hardwood floor designed to look like a rushing riverbed, and the preserved manzanita trees lining the dining room. The eco-friendly home’s floors are warmed by geothermal energy, and its endless pool is solar-heated, but this rustic ranch isn’t wanting for luxury: A wood-burning fireplace with artistic mosaic work and a jetted tub in the primary suite give this mountain getaway a sophisticated splendor.
Quinta Villa Beatriz in Santo Emilião, Portugal
Oenophiles will be enchanted by Quinta Villa Beatriz, a 173-acre vineyard estate in Santo Emilião, northern Portugal, a region famed for its unique Vinho Verde wines. The vineyard boasts modern vinification facilities (including bottling and storage) for the excellent Loureiro, Trajadura, and Pedreña varietals produced on the property, as well as an on-site laboratory for the scientific study of these wines. The main house is a magnificent blue palace built in 1907 and restored to its original grandeur in 1991. The mansion comprises four wings, each two stories high, crowned by four towers at each corner. Each tower has three floors. The main façade is recessed to integrate the entrance hall and a balcony. The access is made by an imperial staircase with stone balustrade, on which two classic columns are placed. Lovingly maintained formal gardens, a barn, and frontage on the Ave River contribute to this property’s rural charm.
Brazilian Beach Retreat in Paraty, Brazil
This expansive seaside property occupies some 420 acres along Brazil’s Atlantic coastline between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. There are two private beaches on the estate itself and three additional beaches within the gated community. The main residence, designed by Brazilian architect Jorge Elias, features more than 29,000 square feet of luxurious living space. Each of the 11 bedrooms has a view of the ocean, while terraces, both covered and open, are perfect for basking in the tropical breezes. A 1,937-square-foot guest house provides a further four bedrooms. Beyond the dwellings is a beautiful pool and 10,000 peach palm trees. Tucked away at the edge of the rainforest, this resort maintains its own power and water supply, with the convenience of a marina, services and amenities all nearby.