Friday, August 30, 2013

Holman Ranch - Carmel Valley, CA

Last week I was the luckiest blogger I know, and it was all thanks to The Mom Reviews and the fabulous people at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, CA.
We had the opportunity to travel out to their beautiful site and experience a little bit of what they have to offer.

"Holman Ranch: Where the Past is Always Present. Tucked away in the rolling hills of Carmel Valley, historic Holman Ranch provides a unique and memorable setting for weddings, special events, family gatherings, corporate retreats, and team-building events. With its charming gardens, stunning mountain views and serenity, this private estate affords old-world charm while providing modern day conveniences. This impressive property includes a fully restored stone hacienda, overnight guest rooms, vineyards, olive grove, horse stables and a tasting room where guests can sample our wines."
When we arrived in Carmel Valley, our first stop was their Holman Ranch Tasting Room.  It was conveniently located near several others right on Carmel Valley Road, making it a lovely place to stop whenever you're in the area.  Inside the beautifully decorated tasting room we met Pete, who was extremely knowledgeable and friendly when it came to talking about their wines -- or anything, for that matter!  He's absolutely the kind of person you want to chat with in a tasting room, especially when you want some insight on the wine your tasting.
Jen and I differ in our tasting, with her leaning towards whites and me preferring reds, but we're both always intrigued to try new things, and we both advise the other if we think the other is missing out on something great.  I would happily sample wines with her any day of the week!  On this particular day, she stayed on the white side and tried their Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.  She enjoyed both, while I partook of their different Pinot Noirs.  One is called Hunter's Cuvée, and the other is called Heather's Hill.  Both had a delicious flavor and aftertaste, without being either dull or overwhelming.  I don't know if I can say one was better than the other -- I loved them both!  One fun opportunity we had was to try some of their freshly harvested pinot grapes as we drank the pinot noir.  A very nice before and after experience!
The last wine we tasted was their Rosé of Pinot Noir Blushing Bride.  I don't think I've ever tasted a Rosé from a Pinot grape, and I appreciated the unique taste.  It was also lovely and refreshing on a warm afternoon.  I could imagine myself in a lush garden on a sunshine filled day with a glass of that to relax with. 
Once our tasting was through, it was on to the Ranch.  Just a few curves up the road was the entrance, which was easy to locate.  As we climbed up into the Carmel Valley hills, we once again appreciated how blessed we are to live so close to this part of California.  The views were phenomenal on this clear summer day, and will continue to be the majority of the year.
Getting settled into our room wasn't too difficult.  There aren't a lot of rooms onsite, making it an intimate setting for wedding or event guests.  There are several cabins laid out, with each containing several rooms.  Jen and I found ours and were happy to find very comfortable and spacious accommodations.  The beds were comfortable, the views incredible and I truly appreciated that they had water bottles ready to use and take with you if you wanted to go for a hike. 
After we were settled, we met up with Nick Elliott, one of the proprietors and coordinators for Holman Ranch.  If you're having any kind of event at Holman, Nick and his wife, Hunter Lowder, are the ones who will be coordinating it.  And you're glad for that, because not only are they experienced in event planning and hospitality, but they're also knowledgeable about the ranch and dearly love it -- you can tell.  Hunter was under the weather, so we didn't get to meet her, but Nick was there and happy to show us their setup.
When you first walk into the event area, right in front of you is a large courtyard filled with flowers and greenery, with a barn for dancing on your right, and straight ahead of you, this:

If you're at Holman for a big wedding, chances are you'll see chairs set up on the beautiful green lawn, and enjoy the opportunity of watching a wedding take place on that stone veranda that overlooks the valley.  Not too shabby, right?

Once the tour of the outside and inside of the hacienda was complete, we were lucky enough to be served a delicious dinner, compliments of Michael’s Catering in Marina, CA.  Everything was delicious and served beautifully.  Another moment that knocked me out was when Nick offered us a glass of their Holman Chardonnay, which I took with the hope that I would actually like it enough to drink it.  (I'm NEVER a Chardonnay girl.  NEVER.)  And shock of all shocks, I liked it!  It was fruity and crisp and cool -- the perfect combo for a white that I rarely find.  Well done, Holman Winery!

After dinner, during which we enjoyed the company of other writers and Nick, Jen and I took advantage of what was left of the sunlight and ventured out to see what else we could see.  Right before we left our room, though, I managed to drop my iPhone on a wooden chest in front of my bed, and it was sadly killed.  Therefore, no more pictures for the rest of the trip.  :(
We found the pool and fitness center, which are right next to fields of vineyards that have paths to walk through, etc.  We thought it all looked amazing under the bright full moon, but we decided it wasn't worth running into some curious or wild creatures in the process, so we went back to our room to relax...and check in on our social media pages.  No, I didn't have a phone anymore, but my iPad was fine!
The next morning, after a fine night of sleep, we enjoyed some complimentary breakfast in the game room, and then took a quick ride with Nick and the others to get a close up view of their olive grove.  Set high up in the hills above the ranch, they have approximately 100 olive trees that were re-planted for Holman in 2007.  Walking around near them you could actually smell the olives.  We had the opportunity to taste the olive oil they press back at the tasting room, and I can tell you -- it's fantastic! 

Thank you to Holman Ranch and to Nick for allowing us to enjoy their incredible location and what it has to offer.  The next time I'm working on a corporate event, or who knows, maybe even a wedding, I'm absolutely considering them as a possibility.  They know their stuff, they treat their guests and their vendors well, and they do it all with a smile.  And wine.  What's not to love??

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