Date of Trip: January 2009
What could be better than a working horse ranch while living in luxury?
The Tri-Valley is a triangle-shaped region in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. It is only minutes from San Francisco, San Jose, Walnut Creek and Oakland. It is based around the cities of Pleasanton, Dublin, Danville (which includes Blackhawk and Alamo) and Livermore.
The region is well known for its Mediterranean climate, wine region, historic downtown areas for shopping and fine dining. It is a primarily affluent suburban area with a population of about 300,000.
It is also one of the oldest wine growing regions which played a pivotal role in shaping California’s wine industry. Spanish missionaries planted the first wine grapes in the Livermore Valley in the 1760s. In the 1840s, California pioneers looking for outstanding vineyard sites began planting grapes in the region. Robert Livermore planted the first commercial vines in the 1840s.
My husband’s company recently scheduled a conference in the East Bay and much to my surprise,(and my family’s)it became one of our most enjoyable and unique trips ever.
Our trip started with some trepidation since I did not think Livermore California was a true vacation spot , but when we arrived at the massive gates of our vacation rental, I quickly realized this was indeed going to be memorable! The ranch is surrounded by miles and miles of rock walls with an interesting story in itself. It seems the owner of this huge gated estate collected the rocks herself when she found a source that would give it away free if she would haul it. Each evening, after working all day, Ms. Green loaded rock in her antiquated pickup and took it up the then one-lane road ,9 miles to her ranch. She then hired a laborer to cement the rock together. This man was a true artist! The entire project took eighteen years to complete, but when she was finished she had a million dollar fence that cost only the hourly rate of the laborer and much of her own sweat. The wall itself is breathtaking, not to mention the ranch it protects. The story continues in that the family of the ranch owner lived in the barn for five years, while the 4200 square foot main house was built out of construction scraps saved from jobs of the family business. Mind you,the materials used are gorgeous woods and stone, only seen in the finest of homes. The house is elegant, interesting, well designed and decorated with antiques salvaged and obtained from swap meets and flea markets. As we drove past the stable and up the huge driveway we were blown away by the view of the entire Tri-Valley. To see hundred of acres of open ranchland still untouched in this growing and thriving environment truly takes one’s breath away. The large circular parking area welcomes visitors with a huge water feature made from the same beautiful stone that comprises the great wall. Once inside our home away from home, we instantly felt like this was home-or would be if we could afford such luxury! Again, the décor was elegant but comfortable and the views out every window reminded us of our oasis in such a “silicone” business environment as this area has become. The kitchen is a gourmet cook’s dream, the bedrooms are large and comfortable as are the baths. The favorite part for my children however was the barn, horses, and miles and miles to explore throughout the ranch and surrounding parklands. My kids don’t ride horses but I understand that can be arranged as part of the rental. In addition, the is also a smaller cottage available that has a true old west feel to it. (Except with all the modern amenities) Both houses feel private, each one having it’s own space for outside activities. Our week stay at this property was wonderfully relaxing, we learned quite a bit about how a ranch operates, and would love to return again.