Wall Street Journal Home of The Day, A Lemon Farm in Orange County


Location: 27112 Highland Dr, San Juan Capistrano, CA Price: $11,888,888

Spanning two lots, this property in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., comes with a Mediterranean-style mansion and 430 lemon trees.

By: Sarah Tilton, Wall Street Journal

Dorian Knape looked at 70 houses before she and her husband, Jim, found this property in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. ‘We had been looking for a couple of years for a unique property in Orange County that would give us ocean views and privacy,’ she says. The couple paid $5.5 million in 2007 for the more than 5-acre property. They then embarked on a multi-year remodel of the house, the guesthouse, the six-car garage and the garden. ‘It’s in town—you’re not in the middle of nowhere,’ says Mrs. Knape, adding that it is about a five-minute drive to the freeway. The couple took the approximately 9,800-square-foot Mediterranean-style main house down to the studs. ‘I wanted it to be timeless,’ says Mrs. Knape. The family moved into the home in 2010.


Mrs. Knape estimates they have put approximately $8 million into the two-lot property. On the second lot, which was recently rezoned agricultural, they planted 430 lemon trees, she says. An accountant by training, Mrs. Knape started a medical device company with her husband and more recently started Pucker Urban Farm. Along with fresh lemons, she sells individually packaged drink shots called Mrs. Pucker’s Lemon Shot. They are made by squeezing the juice from the lemon and the peel as ‘the power is in the peel,’ she says.

‘It’s been a great family home,’ says Mrs. Knape. The outdoor loggia, shown here, has a coffered ceiling with built-in heaters. ‘You go through our gate and you don’t realize you’re in a city anymore,’ says Mrs. Knape. The property has a saltwater pool with ocean views. A sport-court is now a staging area for the lemon business. ‘It’s been a labor of love,’ she says of the lemon farm. They added a full outdoor kitchen with a dishwasher and a pizza oven. The chandelier in the entry and the railing on the staircase were among the few original details that the couple preserved. The walls in the entry are Venetian plaster.


The main house has five bedrooms, six full baths and two half baths. The master suite includes a 308-square-foot closet. ‘It’s a sanctuary,’ says Mrs. Knape. The master bath, shown here, is 420 square feet. The fireplace in the library, shown here, was originally in the living room. Mrs. Knape added the burl-wood panelling. The living room is Mrs. Knape’s favorite space in the house. ‘You can go in there and look out at the formal garden. It’s very serene, and you can open up all the doors and walk out to the backyard,’ she says. There is a player piano in the living room which she says she designed around the Christopher Guy settee. The formal dining room looks out at the pool and the ocean. ‘The theater was [a] focal point,’ says Mrs. Knape. ’The kids come home and they use the theater with their friends.’


A glass wall separates the wine tasting room from the temperature-controlled cellar. The couple also renovated the approximately 1,000-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath guesthouse. The couple also added a gym. The couple are selling as their children are grown and they are planning on downsizing. Mrs. Knape says she will miss the serenity and the privacy. ‘I’s like you’re in your own world,’ she says. Mrs. Knape is 59 years old; Mr. Knape is 55.

The home has an asking price of $11,888,888, a nod to Chinese numerology, which considers eight a lucky number. Raj Qsar and Christina Boladian of The Boutique Real Estate Group share the listing.

Link to WSJ Article.

Link to Property Website.