Sunday, December 14, 2014

...a northern california adventure to SEA RANCH...!

A few days after Thanksgiving this year my husband and I (and Miette!) ventured off up North in search of a little R+R and creative button-resettin'. We made plans a month earlier to get away for a quick two night stay in a special place where we have both been aching to go...Sea Ranch, CA. Sea Ranch is located on the northern part of the Sonoma Coast and stretches about 10 miles on either side of Highway 1. To get to this coastal gem is the FUN part! We chose to take Dry Creek Road which stems off the 101 in Healdsburg, CA. You can imagine how I excited I was to work a few wineries into the occasion here......and I did just that!

First of all, these wineries are in FORESTS and valleys,, hills of redwood and pine trees. It is quite breathtaking and surreal. Even with our rainy weather off and on we had these amazing moments of clarity....with big cotton ball clouds rolling through and blue skies polka-dotting the gray....rainbows around corners.  I mean, all that AND wine? Sign me up!

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Dry Creek Valley has some of the most amazing California wineries (IMO) dotted upon it's windy roads...I was in HEAVEN.

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First stop was to Unti Vineyards...per suggestion from a fellow Oenophile (thanks, Chains!). Unti is a small, family owned winery that specializes in Mediterranean varietal wines. Their tasting room was simple, approachable and modern/rustic and their wines = superb! I especially enjoyed their Barbera and Sangiovese.....

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After Unti we continued our trek West...stopping at Spragia Family Vineyards - again, per rec by a buddy of mine (thanks, Jeff!)....and were not disappointed. Higher up on the hillside, Spragia boasts insane views of the valley floor and surrounding hills. Their Merlots? Off the hook.

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After Spragia we were both a bit anxious to finish out the trek and get to Sea Ranch....what I didn't realize is that one of the last wineries I wanted to go to was actually still on our path. Lucky girl that I am the husband let me stop for one last forest winery excursion!  Gustafson Family Vineyards (thanks, Manther!) sits 1800 feet above sea level and is happily immersed in old groves of oak trees, redwoods and madrone trees. What used to be an old sheep ranch is now turning out insane wines - specifically I enjoyed their Petite Sryah and Sryah. And check out their grounds (you can rent a house on this property FYI....):

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blankets of fall colored grape leaves felt so festive

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We continued towards the Pacific Coast - by this time Dry Creek Road had turned into Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road. Named for the tiny town (Stewarts Point) along the Sonoma Coast that we would get spit out on. The scenery was dramatic and we happened upon a giant rainbow that we had all to ourselves. It was the closest I had ever been to a rainbow before...literally making the pine tree right in front of us glow in technicolor.

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The road on the left is the one that we came out of....and on the right is Highway 1 heading South to more gorgeous adventures:

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Stewarts Point - where there is an old-school, original general store

Now we were really ready to get to Sea Ranch and escape the car. It had stopped raining and we wanted to catch the last bit of sun. Miette had a few miles of ya-yas to get out of her tiny system. We headed a short distance North to our home for the next few days - the Sea Ranch Lodge.

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our room - loved it. NO TV!!

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Sea Ranch Post Office located at the Lodge

The Lodge follows the philosophy of Sea Ranch which is to live lightly on the land, blending buildings with landscape. The land isn't littered with a ton of warning and codes of conduct signs. Rather it is clean, respectful and coincides about as seamlessly as possible with the rugged bluffs, nature, windswept trees and mint colored sea. It was so quiet, calm and remote - the perfect getaway from the madness.

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looking back at the lodge from one of the many trails

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the historic Condominium 1. Built in 1965, this was the first unit built in the Sea Ranch development.

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Our first evening's walk had the most blue skies out of the weekend....these were shot with my iPhone:

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like a painting

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So, now this is where I can't wrap my head around editing photos.....I did edit out about 500 other pictures, but just couldn't rid of one single more....I hope you enjoy the beauty of this land and the architecturally significant homes that add to the charm, message and serene landscape of this unique community.

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this fantastic old barn on the property...aged naturally to perfection

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one of my favorite homes I saw...loved the sunken living room and live roof - the canopy of Cypress hugging the roofline is beyond.

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 We decided to take a trek up the coast to Point Arena to check out their lighthouse and to seek out a great hole-in-the-wall restaurant for clam chowder on the rainy coast....many more rocky ocean vistas awaited as well as a ton of sealife...birds, seals and shorebirds...all taking in the clean, after-the-rain air. It really was breathtaking and the type of day that fills you with so much gratitude for being able to stand and soak it all in.

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I loved these layers of earth....I can envision a fantastic wallpaper based off this natural pattern!

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so many carved out passages that i dreamed about exploring

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Heading back we had a few more things to cross off our list before heading back to the cozy Lodge for a yummy dinner and a night in.

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The Sea Ranch Chapel was completed in 1985 and is defined as a "non-denominational sanctuary for prayer, meditation and spiritual renewal". It is open to the public 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset and is a charming and magical little piece of architecture that looks like fairies built it in the forest. A must-stop on any road trip passing through the area.

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Just 8 miles up from Highway 1 and through another windy, redwood and fern lined single-lane road was a yummy winery - Annapolis Winery. Again, family owned/operated with estate bottled wines. Ones to note was their Barbera Rose, Cabernet and their Zinfandel Port.

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One last sunset at The Ranch....

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Heading home south I was able to squeeze in one last winery which turned out to my favorite from the weekend.....Fort Ross Vineyard. Again, the most charming and magical setting - above the Pacific and amongst groves of redwoods....I had actually tasted Fort Ross years back at some massive wine thingie here in the city and they had made a note in their system listing me as a "potential member"....I know this because I signed up for their wine club that day. Pinots there are the very definition of a California Pinot - complex, brandy rimmed in color, layered and juicy. I even bought a bottle of Chardonnay (me!!) because it was just. that. good. YUM...

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check this place out!! squeal...I love. 

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We took PCH South so we could hit up the town of Jenner specifically to visit Timber Cove Inn. Have you heard of it? My husband told me about it after driving by it on many of his vintage car rallies.

It was designed by Richard Clements and opened its doors in 1963. It is quite evident that a major influence of his was Frank Lloyd Wright . Stone and redwood are the two most used materials in the construction of this mid-century coastal getaway. I can't wait to go back and stay there!

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can you even with this dining room?! I'm such a fan of interior stone work...

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It was such a wonderful trip - filled with some of the tastiest wines, card games by the fireplace, ocean hikes and chats, new discoveries, golden and peach sunsets and architectural treats. Happy cows really do live in California.

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all photos by janel holiday interior design...except the aerial shot of Fort Ross Vineyards. because I don't have a drone...yet.