Prior to leaving Mendocino, we took a short walk along the coast. The sea was gray, the surf angry and the sky was threatening rain. If you’ve ever heard the opening movement of the “Scottish” Symphony, you get this visual . . . one that Mendelssohn must have witnessed on the coast of Scotland as he wrote his Symphony No.3.
As we headed south along US Highway 1, we drove out of the rain and made our way to Sea Ranch, about an hour and 20 minutes from Mendocino. The drama of the coast line never fails to impress, as the photo below, taken near Elk, California, illustrates.
When I lived in California in the early 1970s, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at an environmentally-planned, coastal development called Sea Ranch. I was interested in seeing how the community stood the test of time. Sea Ranch encompasses about 3500 acres, 10 miles long and one-quarter mile wide, with the Pacific Ocean on one side and US Highway 1 on the other. Development adheres to strict architectural mandates: cedar contemporary home designs, gravel driveways, no landscaping, no lawns – just uncut sea grass. I think it’s still very cool. Its isolation (2-1/2 hours from San Francisco) appeals to second home buyers looking for quiet reflection, coastal fauna & flora, open space and dramatic ocean views. The photo below doesn’t capture the natural beauty of the place; but if you are interested, go to their website for history, photos, rental info, etc. If you don’t stay overnight, at least have lunch at the Black Point Grill at the Sea Ranch Lodge.
After spending the night in San Francisco, we continued our road trip south to Big Sur and the Post Ranch Inn. Big Sur refers to the roughly 90 mile coastal mountain region south of Carmel and north of San Luis Obispo. We traded the serenity of Sea Ranch for the drama of Big Sur: unspoiled mountainous terrain, redwood groves, riparian woodlands and chaparral-covered hills. Big Sur is a haven for wildlife, from condors to the California giant salamander. The video below only begins to capture the scale and beauty of the topography here.
In my opinion, the only place to stay in Big Sur is the Post Ranch Inn. Thirty-nine rooms, spread among multiple cedar buildings, offer dramatic ocean or mountain views. Spring for the ocean views (request the Roberts room), where your deck is perched about 1200 feet above the Pacific. See my photo below. From your deck, watch the condors soar below you during the day, and the fog roll in below you at dusk. Having stayed at the Inn 3 times, I never tire of the majesty of Big Sur coastline. And the food and wines at the Inn’s Sierra Mar Restaurant are outstanding!
These last two nights at Post Ranch concluded our Cali Wine Road Trip. While there were no wineries visited these last two days, our passage through these coastal regions allowed us to better appreciate how the coastal terrain and climate allow for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to thrive, producing superb wines with balance and finesse. Thanks for hitching a ride with us. We hope you enjoyed the trip . . . and urge you to make the trip yourself!