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2 Jul

Holman Ranch Trip Report – A Magnificent Setting For Family or Group Gatherings


Holman Ranch…A place where ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is possible for your family or group gathering!

Holman Ranch, located in the hills of Carmel Valley, California is Monterey Peninsula’s best kept secret, and our much anticipated destination for a travel writer’s gathering. A 400 acre guest ranch awaited us and what we were about to see transported us to another world. Discover with me the unique offerings at Holman Ranch that make it an unforgettable spot for multi-gen family gatherings, weddings and group retreats.

Holman Ranch Monterey California

Arriving at noon, we stopped at the Holman Ranch Tasting Room which was easy to find on Carmel Valley Road – located among a walkable stretch of distinctive wine tasting rooms and wineries. How would wine tasting sound now that we had arrived at our destination early in the day, and only an hour and a half from our home ? Count us in !

Holman Ranch Tasting Room

We were in for a treat as we sampled several wine varietals and learned that the Holman Ranch estate vineyard is Organic and SIP Certified. “Sustainability in Practice” refers to a vineyard where wine production is directly related to the farmer’s commitment to protect both natural and human resources. Growers and winemakers recognize that mindful fruit production and care for workers’ well-being are important components of quality wine.

Both Kathy and Peter, our wine servers, were very friendly and well informed about the historic roots of the Holman Ranch. They enjoyed speaking of each wine and, in particular, food pairing. Three of their Pinot Noir blends are named after the owner’s daughters: Kelly’s Press Pinot Noir, Heather’s Hill Pinot Noir and Hunter’s Cuvee Pinot Noir. Our wine cave tour was scheduled for 2 PM, so we left the tasting room with our key to Room 4 in hand and directions for the five minute drive to Holman Ranch. What we were about to see was magical.

Holman Ranch

A Carmel stone entrance was easily found at the top of Holman Road. As we drove through the entrance it was as if we entered another century. Towering golden hills surround you with stately tall majestic oaks gracing open fields of deep purple lavender, golden California poppies and many species of colorful drought resistant plants. On our left is the equestrian center. Some horses were in their stable, while others were being walked. As you looked down the hill on your right you could see a riding arena where several horses were performing jumping maneuvers. At the end of the road, we found Room 4 among adjoining rustic cottages.

Holman Ranch Cottage

As we entered our guest cottage we saw a beautifully designed and decorated room with all the comforts of home. There were multiple windows and natural light made this room bright and cheery. The king bed, luxurious bath, sitting area, reading lights, wifi internet and cable TV…was such a treat. We must have been the first of our group to arrive, so we took a walk around the property and we were amazed at how private, peaceful and secluded our surroundings were. Large birds swirled above, smaller birds were chirping along our paths. The sun was shining, blue skies with puffs of white clouds dotted the sky. Surrounded by nature, we could feel the quiet and the beauty. How romantic.

It was now 2 p.m. and we were met outside of our cottage by Nick Elliott who gave us a walking tour of the estate and a wine cave tour. We learned that being located 12 miles inland from the Pacific coast, the gentle hills provide optimum growing conditions for their 100% estate grown grapes. I had done a some research of Holman Ranch prior to this trip and Nick confirmed that Holman Ranch was originally part of the lands bestowed to the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmel in the Spanish Era. The land later became secularized and in 1928 it was purchased by a San Francisco businessman, Gordon Armsby. He built a sprawling stone Hacienda style estate home with local Carmel stone walls and hand carved oak beamed ceilings. The home still retains its original name “Casa Escondida” (Hidden House). The Ranch has passed through several owners and in its storied past has been an exclusive hideaway for many Hollywood celebrities including Charlie Chaplin, Gene Autry, Ava Gardner and Clark Gable.

Holman Ranch Main House

In 2006 Thomas and Jarman Lowder purchased the property in 2006 and updated the Ranch to its original charm adding more vineyards, a wine cave and Tuscan olive trees. Their personal art and commemorative collections are beautifully displayed which will easily capture your attention.

Nick pointed out that the 3000 square foot wine cave maintains a temperature of 58 degrees. Inside of the cave all de-stemming, crushing, fermentation, aging and storage is completed and all of the bottling is done outside. Each wine blend was carefully explained by Nick as we barrel tasted several variations.

Holman Ranch Wine Cave

It was almost time for dinner and we had one more site to see-the outdoor wedding altar. This area of the property was stunning. Tall white poppies and rich lavender surround the back drop of the elevated wide Carmel stone wedding altar. The sweeping green hills of the Carmel Valley become your panoramic view. I had the feel of a slice of paradise while standing there. The wedding altar seemed to be suspended in air. Along the paths tall rose trees and bushes were in full bloom. – Stunning!

We now assembled for dinner in the Carriage House. Hunter Lowder, Nick Elliott (her husband) and Max, their son, welcomed everyone. As we enjoyed an elegant catered dinner by Wild Thyme and enjoyed Holman Ranch selected wines, it was obvious that this family paid special attention to their guests. We were all engaged in conversation and in no time felt like we were a part of the family. Our visit to Holman Ranch was “the total experience”.

Holman Ranch Statue

I mention that Holman Ranch is a place where ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is possible. Guests enjoy a relaxed setting with modern amenities and access to the entire estate. Hunter Lowder, Director of Hospitality, has an amazing talent to customize your stay to entertain everyone in your group. Some of the event activities include vineyard and olive grove tours and tasting, game room with billiards and darts, bocce ball, horseshoes, lawn dominoes, guided hiking, cooking classes, wagon rides, swimming, sporting clays and mini golf. A fully equipped fitness center can include pilates and yoga if desired, and Holman Ranch offers handicap accessibility.

It’s breathtaking views, natural beauty and unique location make this a perfect site for a festive occasion for 30 to 200+ guests. Whether it is a family reunion, holiday party,birthday party, high school reunion, corporate retreat or a wedding venue, you will have found an ideal location. Holman Ranch hosts one event at a time so the grounds are exclusively yours during the rental period. After meeting Hunter it was obvious that she is a woman who will pay attention to every detail. As for us, we enjoyed every moment of our stay and were glad to discover this indulgent guest ranch.  For more information, go to:

About The Author:   Maureen Verdon Butt enjoys travel, photography and meeting new people, creating new experiences. She and her husband live both in Los Gatos, California and in Punta Gorda, Florida. Her motto is ” Travel…renews my childlike wonder at our planet. In a completely new environment, the intensity of each moment is somehow heightened. I return to my daily life with a fresh perspective.”

Photo Source:  #1 Holman Ranch, 2-6 Maureen Butt