By Charly SHELTON
Valentine’s Day is coming up. Fast. Ralph’s has had its Valentine display up for a week already. I know it’s still a month off, but it is time to make preparations so you don’t find yourself on Feb. 13 standing in an hour-long line at Sees Candies and rushing to every flower store in the county to find the last available bouquet of roses for $50. Plan early and have it shipped to your house. Or better yet, leave the house. Go on a getaway with your sweetie and leave the stress of Valentine’s Day at home when you do.
One of the best places you can go for a romantic getaway is up the coast to Carmel. And one of the best places in Carmel is Holman Ranch vineyards and winery. I was invited up to Holman Ranch to stay an evening and tour the winery, and it was one of the best experiences I have had to date.
Holman Ranch, located a few miles inland in Carmel Valley, is famous for its wine. The Hunter’s Cuvée pinot noir is one of the top 10 wines in the world, as ranked by National Geographic, and I agree. The vineyard is set atop several hills nestled in a picturesque little valley with a classic hacienda house from the 1920s as the center point of the property. Once a celebrity getaway for stars such as Gene Autry, Charlie Chaplin and Ava Gardner, the property is now available for rent as an event space for weddings, retreats, reunions and other such parties.
That’s a little expensive for a weekend getaway, though. Luckily there is another option to come stay at the ranch. For members of the wine club who purchase two cases twice a year (four cases total) of the Holman Ranch Estate Wine, the ranch is open to them once a year for a weekend stay, depending on availability.
Even if Valentine’s Day is booked up at the ranch, other weekends are open and it is definitely a great place to get away. Private individual cottages line the main thoroughfare of the property, each complete with a porch and rocking chairs for pleasant evenings of relaxation. Huge fluffy beds greet you as you walk into your room. The room décor reflects classic ranch life with tables and lamps made of boots and saddles and whatnot. Surrounding the cottage is all manner of wildlife and plants, putting guests firmly in nature without removing them from modern conveniences. It is the best of both worlds and the perfect place to unwind and relax, have a glass of wine (or six) and spend time with your significant other.
The best part of staying at Holman Ranch is the water. I know that sounds weird, but after six glasses of wine in one evening, water is the most important thing in life at that moment. At Holman Ranch, guests find metal reusable water bottles near the sink, which they get to take home as a souvenir, as well as a note. It informs the guest that water on the central coast of California is very precious and to conserve when possible. The water at the ranch is taken from a mountain spring and filtered before coming to the faucets, so it is safe to drink. A native to L.A., I have heard of drinking from the tap before, but I have never done it by choice. The water from the taps at Holman Ranch was clean and clear and tasted better than any bottled water available for sale at the supermarket. This reinforces the fact that up there you really are far away from the city. It may not sound like much, but it does wonders for putting you in the ‘getaway’ mindset.
For those who would rather stay home, I suggest ordering a bottle – or case of the Holman estate wine through the wine club and celebrate Valentine’s at home.
Check next week’s paper for a more detailed look at the wines of Holman Ranch and some of the other wineries in the Carmel area as well.