NFL's Joe Montana Selling Wine Country Mansion For $49M

Seventeen years after he left San Francisco as the iconic quarterback of its 49ers football team, Joe Montana is back in town -- this time as an empty-nester renter. The reason for the switch? All four kids have moved out, so "Joe Cool" and his wife, Jennifer, are scaling back to a smaller (relatively speaking) in-town rental and selling off their California residences.

The crown jewel of those homes is Villa Montana, an expansive wine country ranch, currently on the market for $49 million.

But is it worth its pro-league price tag?
Believe it or not, the answer is probably yes. The 500-acre retreat is officially located in Calistoga, but the property sprawls from Napa County northward into Sonoma County. The 9,700-square-foot Tuscan-style house, which took three years to build, boasts a bell tower and baronial details, but also has those football-player essentials: a beer tap, pizza oven and multiple hidden flat-screen TVs.

Montana, a food and wine aficionado, imported a lot of furnishings bought on European shopping sprees, including a hanging tapestry in the 22-foot-high great room, a Montana family crest painted by a French artist set over a marble fireplace, tall iron gates from the 16th century, and a marble bathtub so heavy it needed to be moved by crane. "But the fish are local," Montana said about his 45-foot-deep pond stocked with bass, during an interview with the Wall Street Journal in November 2009, when he first put Villa Montana on the market.

Besides football and fishing, Montana also has a love of horseriding. Riding trails zigzag the property and the equestrian stable has an indoor arena and 17 horse stalls, each one with its own heat lamp, fan and video camera. There's also a swimming pool, basketball court and skeet-shooting range. The gym is in a separate building, and it's where Montana kept his Sports Illustrated covers and three Super Bowl MVP trophies (probably not included in the sale).

The Montanas didn't live there much -- once their two boys were of school (and football-playing) age, the family moved east of San Francisco Bay, then down to Thousand Oaks in Southern California. The moves for good high school football playing paid off -- the eldest son, Nathaniel plays quarterback at Notre Dame, Montana's alma mater, and the youngest, Nicholas, just started at the University of Washington.

Montana's new digs are a leased two-bedroom on the 41st floor of the high-rise Millennium Tower in San Francisco.

So why back to San Francisco? Montana told the Chronicle that when he came to the city for an event, "we came to look at the building and got a tour and just fell in love with it, the views and the location." At 58 stories, the Millenium Tower is the fourth-tallest building in the city. The Montanas live in the Grand Residences section, floors 26 to 60, which get special access to a wine cellar and tasting room, the Sports Club L.A.-run fitness center and a private bar and dining room serviced by the new restaurant owned by S.F. chef extraordinaire Michael Mina.

The Grand Residences' for-sale prices run from $600,000 to $5 million, and monthly rentals are $4,000 to $20,000. The pads feature 10-foot ceilings, kitchens with Wolf appliances and Sub-Zero refrigerators, and of course sweeping views of the city and the bay. Montana can even see his old workplace, Candlestick Park, from his window, but he says has nothing to do with the 49ers anymore.

Instead, he plans to be a true empty-nester and hang out in his favorite spots, the nearby Ferry Building and Union Square, when he's not flying off to his sons' football games. And even though Montana has had multiple surgeries and is now suffering from a bad back, arthritic knee and a damaged eye nerve, he intends to get around by public transit and on foot. He's not worried about being mobbed by locals who remember him as the great god of 49ers football. "The more you're around, the more people get used to seeing you around."

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