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The late-afternoon sunlight was the color of an oaky chardonnay as it shone down on the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. It was easy to see why the property is a popular backdrop for exchanging vows.
Apart from nuptials, Holman Ranch hosts a number of special events for small groups, including family gatherings, meetings and seminars, networking events and corporate retreats. The 400-acre property contains 10 overnight guestrooms that can only be rented in conjunction with an event, a fully restored stone hacienda, vineyards, an olive grove and horse stables.
There is also a tasting room on the town’s main thoroughfare, where the public can sip the flavors of Holman Ranch’s vineyards any day of the week. The tasting room is also available for private events.
The ranch began hosting guests in 1928 and quickly became a popular retreat for Hollywood celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable. Old newspaper clippings and photographs from that time adorn the main building.
In 1943, the property was purchased by the Holman family, who then expanded and improved the ranch, planting it firmly in the rich social scene of Carmel Valley. Thomas and Jarman Lowder purchased the property in 2006, and their daughter, Hunter Lowder, and her husband, Nick Elliott, are the current owners of Holman Ranch.
My own visit to the ranch started with a check-in at the on-site tasting room. In addition to obtaining my room keys, I received samples of wine that were made from the grapes growing on the surrounding hillsides. From there, I headed to the main property.
After driving up a winding private road past the stables, I arrived at the ranch’s collection of cozy cabins, secluded under a canopy of trees. There’s also a private house with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen. In total, Holman Ranch accommodates up to 38 overnight guests. During events, however, this part of the property is only open to attending guests, ensuring utmost privacy.
While exploring the grounds, I wandered past the stone hacienda gates; past the barn-style Carriage House and gardens; and out to the plush carpet-like Hacienda Lawn. There, I took in the sweeping vistas of the surrounding valley, dotted with Pinot Noir grapevines and olive trees. Besides admiring the view, guests can take a plunge in the pool, play a round of bocce ball or even pitch a few horseshoes.