Villa, wine and olive oil

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When Maribel Riera and her husband wanted to view Mas Vida, a Catalan farmhouse they were interested in buying, the selling agent said there was no need for keys. “He told us we could walk in any time we wanted to, through the gaping holes in the walls,” said Maribel, now retired from the practice of law.

“The house was a total ruin.” The 14,000-square-foot, six-bedroom property in the Empordà region of northeastern Spain, with views of the snow-capped Pyrenees and the Bay of Rosas, was built in 1704 as a rectory for a neighbouring hermitage.

Now it is the centrepiece of a 198-acre estate that produces four varieties of wine and one of olive oil. Riera recalled that after buying the property in 1988, her husband, Alberto Fernández, promised that they would turn the 50 acres around the house into a paradise. “And that is what we did,” she said.

Alberto, a property developer, died two years ago, and Maribel now wants to sell the estate. “This was always a joint project for the two of us,” she said. “And without my husband it doesn’t feel the same.” Mas Vida is on the market with the Lucas Fox agency in Barcelona, listed for an undisclosed amount.

The process of restoring the three-level house in rustic Catalan style took around 18 months. As Alberto had considerable experience with similar projects, the process was remarkably trouble-free, Maribel said.

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