A Taste of Wine & Hollywood at Carmel Valley’s Holman Ranch

This is a cross-post from Go Girlfriend, a site I contribute to that focuses on girlfriend getaways.

Alaina Yoakum is a Marketing, Communications, Social Media and Event Planning expert with over 20 years’ experience. When she’s not traveling the world or spoiling her two children at home in Northern California, she loves to help clients promote their brands more effectively through winning strategies, catchy copy, dynamic designs, and unforgettable events. 

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If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just need to grab your favorite gals and escape. The endless to-do lists, piles of laundry and constant homework monitoring just gets to be too much.

So when Holman Ranch invited me and a friend to stay at their breathtaking 400-acre historic property, I jumped at the chance. And what a treat it was! When it comes to crafting the perfect recipe for a girlfriends’ getaway, Holman Ranch has all the right ingredients.

About Holman Ranch

Set in the hills of Carmel Valley, Holman Ranch is less than a 13-mile, 30-minute drive west of the coast and tourist hot spots like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17-mile scenic drive and Point Lobos, where you can often spot sea lions.

Holman Ranch is a premiere location for weddings, corporate retreats, family gatherings, and special events – not to mention unforgettable, indulgent girlfriends’ retreats. An overnight on a stunning ranch with picturesque views? Check. A private wine tour and tasting? Check. Private massage therapists and manicurists? Check! They’ll even plan an ATV ride through their vineyards, hayrides, dummy cattle roping – you name it! My friend and I knew we were in for a treat – we couldn’t wait to start our tour!


Savoring the Wine & the Views

After checking into our ranch guest house, my friend and I lounged on our beds, enjoying the sweeping views of the valley outside and the rustic touches of the décor inside. Next on the agenda was a top highlight of our stay: A private wine tour and tasting with Nick Lowder, who owns and operates Holman Ranch along with his wife, Hunter.

Nick took us on a stroll through the enchanting grounds, past a blue-tiled swimming pool built in 1931, and into the wine caves. There, we tasted some of their award-winning wines – straight from the barrel. My favorite was their bold and rich 2010 Pinot Noir Hunter’s Cuvee. I was also impressed by their commitment to sustainability in how they grow, farm and produce their organic wines. Their 21-acres of vineyards yield grapes to make a range of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc wines. You can purchase their wines online, or better yet, join their Estate Wine Club for benefits like a two-night stay on their ranch.

Star Power

After a glass or two’s worth of wine and a mini power nap in our room, my friend and I reunited with Nick for a tour of the rest of the Holman estate – accompanied by a glass of their scrumptious Chardonnay, of course! We enjoyed the sunset in their blooming gardens and then entered the circa-1928 restored stone hacienda. Inside, Nick told us tales about the ranch’s illustrious history and how it once catered to Hollywood royalty, including Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin and Vincent Price.

As a fan of old black and white films, it felt luxurious to walk along the same paths and lounge in the same rooms as those heavenly stars. It reminded me of a movie I loved as a young girl, called Somewhere in Time. In it, a man becomes obsessed with the portrait of a movie starlet who lived long, long ago. Using hypnosis, he inexplicably travels back in time to an old hotel in the early 1900s, where he meets – and falls in love with her. Inside the Holman Ranch hacienda, among the old paintings and period furniture, it felt like we’d been transported to that bygone era, when women wore long slinky gowns and men wore tails.


Fabulous French Fare  

The food wasn’t the only thing that was good – I loved the decor and antique signs at this bistro!

The luxury continued as we got whisked to town in a chartered bus to Nick and Hunter’s restaurant, Wills Fargo Steakhouse and Bar, for one of the best meals we’d ever had. We started our culinary journey with a sublime bowl of French onion soup, followed by roast chicken with a heavenly potato gratin. My friend, who is typically a picky eater, surprised me by ordering seconds of the side! We ended the meal (reluctantly) savoring the molten “Fondant” Au Chocolate and a vanilla ice cream with a twist – it was made using olive oil from Holman Ranch’s olive groves.

Full credit for this exquisite meal goes to their Executive Chef, Jérôme Viel, a classically trained French chef born in Brittany and who has been studying the culinary arts since the age of fifteen. Given how delicious the food is, it’s no wonder!

All in all, Holman Ranch is the perfect combination of luxurious, modern amenities and old-world charm. If you’re planning a getaway with one friend or a dozen, I highly recommend Holman Ranch and Vineyards.

To learn more about Holman Ranch and Vineyards, check out their website, visit them on Facebook or read their blog.

Disclosure: Alaina was on a press trip at Holman Ranch, but all opinions expressed are her own.
















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