A media FAM (return) trip to Holman Ranch of Carmel Valley, offered a second opportunity to enjoy this stunning property. The restored hacienda and guest rooms, an olive grove and stables overlooking tranquil vineyards, create a peaceful setting and a truly holistic experience for guests. A special treat was a meal at nearby Will’s Fargo restaurant, now owned by Holman Ranch proprietors Hunter Lowder and Nick Elliott.
Holman Ranch began over 85 years ago as a 400 acre working ranch, and later used as gentleman’s retreat, is becoming one of Monterey Peninsula’s popular sites for corporate hideaways, weddings, and special events. A focal point is the stone hacienda built in 1928, then boasting such celebrities as Charlie Chaplin and Vincent Price. Much of The Great Room has been kept as it was, from the floors, the ceiling beams and the mantel piece.
Chris Kenney, conservator, MÖBIUS: art conservation was delighted to see a large framed work of art from the early 1900’s by F. A. Bridgman, depicting costumed merrymakers in the streets of Monte Carlo. “The many unique artifacts and antiques at the Ranch in both the common rooms and suites invite the visitor to ponder life in an era of stagecoaches, settlers and dusty trail blazing,” he said.
“Another remarkable quality found at Holman Ranch and Will’s Fargo is interior design motifs recalling the early years of the last century, when both buildings were constructed from stones, mortar and tile roofing. Early 20th century paintings signed by notable artists in elaborate frames festoon the walls along with old timey photographs and genre paintings, landscapes and western themes by contemporary local artists,” he adds.
Chef Greg Karjala, formerly of Sticks at the Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach had just started his new gig, and was proud to showcase his menu of seasonal produce, meats and fish, served family style. Holman Ranch Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir Estate-grown wines were served beforehand by Elliot at a tasting on the ranch, and followed by Jarmin Estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines tasted and served with dinner at Wills Fargo.
Karjala’s first course included platters of tasty wedge salad with blue cheese vinaigrette, blue lake green beans, radishes and fine herbs, plus tomato Carpaccio with pickled red onions, sea salt, Holman ranch olive oil and torn basil. Also included was a unique grilled kale Caesar salad with shaved fennel, parmesan, romaine and anchovy, popular with everyone.
A second course featured Holman Ranch pinot noir-braised short ribs with white bean-bacon ragu, sherry and salsa Verde. An additional platter held Big Sur rock cod with farro-almond risotto, spring onions and green garlic. These delectable dishes were accompanied by sides of sweet and sour braised cabbage, white corn, lime and cilantro. Rounding out the meal with a crowning touch was a mouth-watering dessert of warm chocolate fondant cake with vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate sauce.
See the Hall of History with photos of past guests Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, Joan Crawford and Marlon Brando. Charlie Chaplin claimed his favorite bedroom. Today, most guest bedrooms are themed with posters of these movie stars. A modern ecological touch is the inclusion of a goodie bag and stainless steel logo canteen in each room, provided as a gift to use throughout the stay and to take home.