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PRIVATE LIVES

Douglas Cramer's Getaway Life on the Farm

July 20, 1989| Jeannine Stein

Douglas S. Cramer's name is associated with the somewhat polar worlds of television and art. The producer of such shows as "Love Boat," "Dynasty" and "Hotel" is also an avid art collector, amassing through the years an extensive contemporary art collection. One of his favorite getaways is his ranch in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley that is home to horses, a herd of sheep, vineyards and several galleries filled with art. On Saturday , Cramer hosts his Barn Dance for 150 friends at the ranch, an annual event that has grown into a weekend of get-togethers with out-of-town guests. Here Cramer talks to Jeannine Stein about the joys of the not-always-so-simple life down on the farm.

"I built the ranch as a retreat from Beverly Hills. I bought the land in 1980, and it was also around the time that I realized both of my children knew very little about life outside of Beverly Hills.

"I've always been fascinated with vineyards. I heard about the Santa Ynez Valley from Richard and Esther Shapiro (the creators and co-executive producers of "Dynasty"). One day I went up with my business manager and we saw some property, right next door in fact to (producer) Ray Stark, whom I've known for years. Bo and John Derek lived about a mile away. Ray said this was one of the greatest places in the world, but he said if I bought I'd have to promise not to tell anyone about it. He didn't want a rush of people up there.

"I bought a parcel of 60-some-odd acres, and I commissioned an architect to do three cottages on the hillside, one for the kids, one for me and one that would hold the living room, dining room and kitchen. Well, in the process of a year's work we combined the three houses into one. In the early '80s I was feverishly into collecting contemporary art and I needed more and more wall space. Eventually we built eight or nine galleries that hold the art.

"A long-term goal I had was having a winery of my own, and combining the arts with the winery. Throughout the '80s I kept adding land, now I'm about up to 400 acres, and we grow grapes, primarily for Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. I bought into a partnership in the Byron winery that was just getting started in 1985.

"We have horses here, and we've gotten into raising sheep; we have about 600 right now, eight or nine different kinds. I love animals, I've always loved them. I have three dogs that go everywhere with me.

"I usually fly up there on a Friday afternoon and come back Sunday night or Monday morning. I've not yet managed to spend an entire week there, but I would love to.

"When I'm there I wear jeans or shorts, and I don't think I've ever had a tie on. By the middle of the summer we're eating everything out our garden: spices, corn, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, carrots, celery. We'll run movies in the evening but we seldom go into town.

"I do take work up with me--unfortunately in my business you can't escape from it. A fax machine is my one holdout but life is forcing me to get one. The phones alone have grown from six to 28, scattered around the house.

"Really the only wholesale invasion of people is the annual barn dance. This year will be the fourth one, and it's grown from from about 60 people to 150. We have people like (millionaire businessman) Marvin Davis and (novelist) Jackie Collins out there kicking up their heels.

"Has Ray Stark's nightmare about people moving up here come true? I'm afraid it has. But it seems to be working well for me. My vision is that in another 10 years the Santa Ynez ranch will be my basic residence, and I'll keep some pied - a - terre in Los Angeles, as I do in New York. But it really won't be that different from L.A. because all my neighbors here will be up there by then anyway."

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