On our sojourn to the north Edible Skinny was delighted to be granted a night’s stay at the 400-acre property of Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, California. We’ve previously covered their tasting room and olive oil, but never had the opportunity to personally encounter this magical location where the past is always present.
Located in the world-class growing appellation of Carmel Valley, Holman Ranch’s enchanting stone hacienda offers old world style with its native gardens, the breathtaking vistas from every angle, olive groves, and vineyards. It’s a Central Coast charmed place for weddings, family events, special events, family gatherings, and corporate retreats.
The Ranch, which is approximately 12 miles inland from the Pacific Coast, has quite the past. In 1928, a San Francisco businessman, Gordon Armsby, was attracted to the rich farmland and leisurely pace of Carmel Valley, and purchased 600-acres in the Valley, inclwuding what would be Holman Ranch. Armsby hired architect Clarence Tantau, of Monterey’s Del Monte Hotel fame, to design the home that would reside on his new property.
Tantau and Armsby chose a classic Spanish-style hacienda, shielded by Carmel stone walls and adorned by handmade Mexican terracotta roofing and hand-carved oak-beamed ceilings. The Hacienda sits atop a grassy knoll, offering breathtaking 360-degree views of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Nestled in a stand of mature oaks, nicknamed “Casa Escondida”, or “Hidden House”, the estate served as an exclusive hideaway for many Hollywood celebrities including Charlie Chaplin and Theda Bara.
In the 1940s, Clarence Holman, eldest son of Holman’s Department Store family purchased the Ranch and converted it into one of Carmel’s first resorts (including installing the first pool in Carmel Valley). It quickly became the center of social life, hosting a plethora of “Who’s Who” parties and community events. In the tradition of their predecessors, the Holman’s had the pleasure of hosting Hollywood’s finest: Clark Gable, Vincent Price, Joan Crawford and Marlon Brando (who’s cabin we stayed in!), to name a few.
In 1989, Dorothy McEwen stepped up to preserved the Ranch’s historic past as a private estate and event venue. She planted vineyards, founded the stables, and outfitted the hacienda to accommodate celebrations of all kinds.
Thomas and Jarman Lowder learned of the property, fell for its charms, and purchased Holman Ranch in 2006 and began restoring, refurbishing, and updating the Ranch to bring it back to its original grandeur, adding 17 acres of vineyards and wine caves. Today the Lowder Family are fulfilling their dream of making estate grown wine and olive oil.
Holman Ranch has always been a unique location, not only for breathtaking views and natural beauty, but also as a private estate that opens its doors to the public for their special events. Their daughter, Hunter, who continues in the fashion of all previous owners, runs all of the property’s special events. The Lowder Family updated the Ranch’s old-world charm, providing modern conveniences including heat, air conditioning, Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs, abundant indoor and outdoor electricity, and an integrated sound system.
Holman Ranch is perfection for vistas, vineyards, and vows, a magical place where the past is always present.
Here’s to life being delicious!