In 1994, actress Candace Cameron and hockey player Val Bure fell in love with each other; seven years later, they fell in love with Napa Valley. "We couldn't believe this place exists," says Val. Only an hour's flight from L.A., "You feel like you're in a different country, in a different part of the world," he remarks. "It's magical, you know?"
Candace, 41, and Val, 43—and their children, Natasha, 19, Lev, 17, and Maksim, 15—are based in Los Angeles, where Candace's current projects include the Netflix original series Fuller House and the Hallmark Channel movie Switched for Christmas. But they have had a second home in Napa since 2006, when Val and Candace decided they didn't just want to sip Napa wine—they wanted to make it too.
"As my [hockey] career was coming to an end, I knew that one day, this is what I wanted to do," Val says of winemaking. Born in Moscow, he moved to North America in 1991 to play hockey. An 11-year veteran of the National Hockey League and two-time Olympic medalist, Val put away his skates in 2005. The couple launched Bure Family Wines with the 2006 vintage, using purchased grapes.
A few years later, Val, Candace and their winemaker, Luc Morlet, were looking for a vineyard site of their own when they found a small plot in St. Helena. "We came across this great property that had an existing home but needed a lot of work done to it," Candace explains. "But the land was great, and it enabled us to have estate grapes."
They bought the 2-acre parcel in 2011. Val, an avid admirer of St. Helena's wines, was over the moon. "They really remind me almost of a Pauillac wine," he says. "The Cabernets are very elegant and still have the power—obviously we're in California—but the elegance is just phenomenal." The Bures' new site, with great soil and a gently sloping, east-facing vineyard planted to the Bosché clone of Cabernet, was ideal. But the three-bedroom 1960s ranch house? That was a straight fixer-upper.
They got right to work. "It was actually perfect, because we didn't feel bad knocking any walls down or tearing anything up," Candace recalls. "We had no guilt." Val acted as the project's contractor and brought on local architect Michael Roché, who had designed their wine label, to re-envision the dark, dated house.
In order to open up the space without expanding its footprint, Roché knocked out a kitchen wall. "The kitchen is 170 square feet. It feels bigger because it only has three walls," he explains.
To breathe a sense of place into the home, Roché installed a floor-to-ceiling folding picture window connecting the dining nook to a balcony he designed, forged from locally fabricated powder-coated steel, with Ipe decking. Offering a generous view of the vineyard, the balcony is a cherished spot. "We always start there, because it's so lovely to look at," Candace explains. "But where we always spend the majority of our time is out in the yard, on the patio."
Beneath a sun-dappled canopy of trees, anchored by a gleaming pizza oven, the patio exudes a welcoming warmth. "It's such a great entertaining space, with the food and the wine and the ambience," she says.
The couple turned part of the basement into a wine cellar for their 1,500-bottle collection. Naturally, California is a focus, with Rhône Ranger Sine Qua Non a top pick. They also enjoy food-friendly Brunellos like Siro Pacenti, Casanova di Neri and Conti Costanti, and Bordeaux such as La Fleur-Pétrus, La Mission Haut-Brion and Angélus.
The family spends Christmas in Napa on the rare year when the boys' hockey schedules allow it. For Christmas Eve dinner, Val "pulls out all the stops and just opens all kinds of incredible wines," Candace raves. They start with Champagne—Salon has become a go-to—before moving on to a white such as a Kistler Chardonnay. Then, to pair with Val's beef Wellington, they often open their estate Cabernet, born with the 2012 vintage. "We were very happily surprised at how good it came out [in 2012], but we keep tweaking, we keep tweaking every year," Val says.
Their home, meanwhile, hits the notes they hoped for: "It's clean, it's precise, it's well-thought-out," Val describes. "There's no wasted space." Technically, the renovation was finished in late 2013—but as with their wine, they wouldn't be the Bure family if they didn't keep tinkering.