In 1928, a San Francisco businessman, Gordon Armsby, came upon the lovely rolling hills of Carmel Valley and decided this would be the place to establish himself and create one of the most historical and picturesque ranches in the area. With that vision many years ago, Holman Ranch was established as a working ranch as well as a getaway for the rich and famous (Charlie Chaplin was such a frequent visitor that he had his very own room). The ranch has changed hands several times since the 1920’s but the 400 acre ranch is now as lovely as it was many years ago.
Holman Ranch with its breathtaking views and rustic, elegant surroundings is a favorite for vacationers and special event planners. The manicured lawns, historic buildings, and sweeping mountain views make this ranch a perfect place for weddings and personal milestones.
Thomas and Jarman Lowder purchased Holman Ranch in 2006 with the dream of making great wines and delectable olive oils. Along with that dream, the property also spoke of the days gone by as a place for respite and celebrations. After the purchase, work began to completely refurbish the property maintaining the ambiance of the original glory days with modern upgrades. The Lowders have kept the original charm of the property and with the help of their daughter Hunter and have transformed this icon to a special event mecca and a world class vacation retreat.
We were fortunate enough to spend a lovely evening at this historical property along with a meal at Carmel Valley’s oldest restaurant Wills Cargo. We could not have found a better spot to start our journey to the Central Coast of California.
Whether planning a wedding, retreat or just a time to un-wind, this is the place to find your inner sanctuary. We loved strolling through the grounds, taking in the panoramic views, and contemplating all the guests that came here throughout the years. It was time to try some of the local fare and tonight we are going to one of Carmel Valley’s oldest restaurants.
We traveled down a road through the undulating hills of horse property and into the small town of Carmel Valley. We made a stop at the Jarman wine tasting room to sample wines from the ranch itself.
Greeting us with a warm welcome and a refreshing glass of the Holman Ranch Chardonnay was the gregarious owner Hunter Lowder. Hunter enthusiastically engaged us about the history and the passion of the vines, wines and of course the newest addition to their hospitality portfolio, Wills Fargo, the adjoining restaurant that has been an eatery icon since the 1950’s.
Upon entering Wills Fargo you can feel the history and the ambiance of a time that has passed but has kept pace with today’s demand for exceptional food and atmosphere.
Outside boasts an intimate courtyard patio offering seasonal outdoor dining. After sipping some of the Holman Ranch award winning wines, we were escorted into the rustic restaurant that has been serving up local’s favorite steaks, chicken and seafood since the days of bobbie socks and Edsels.
The times may have changed but the quality remains as Wills Fargo is still bringing in droves of locals and tourists alike to feast upon locally sourced proteins and seafood. Tonight we started with the customary Wills relish tray and the classic French onion soup that came with a heaping amount of gooey gruyere cheese atop of golden onions in the rich classic broth. This was indeed great way to start the palate in a good fast forward motion right into the entree of Roasted Free Range Chicken, moist and tender, with a creamy potato au gratin.
For our second entree we enjoyed the Goat Cheese Ravioli with tomato, garlic, and parmesan cream. The pasta was tender and plump with fresh goat cheese. The parmesan cream added the textural richness. We always try to leave a little room for dessert and were glad we did. The Warm Truffle Chocolate Cake along with homemade ice cream from Holman ranch and decadent caramel sauce was a nice way to end the meal.
Contentedly fed, we bid farewell to our kind and generous hosts and made our way back up the hilly road to our cabin that was now under a blanket of twinkling stars. We were well on our way to the start of another California adventure and were glad to have started with this piece of California history that has stood the passing of time and is now ready to engage the discriminating traveler of today. For more information go to HolmanRanch.com and wfrestaurant.com/.