On a slope of the Mayacamas range with gorgeous Sonoma Valley views, this working ranch, vineyard, and winery contains charmingly old-fashioned rooms. Bucolic Beltane, a quietly romantic property with six accommodations, feels totally off the grid despite its location 2½ miles north of downtown Glen Ellen. The same family has owned the 1892 main house and surrounding 105-acre ranch for six generations.
The front of the house faces west, giving second-floor rooms on that side the best perspectives on the often spectacular Sonoma Valley sunsets.
Each of the guest rooms—three upstairs, two down—is individually decorated with antiques and original artworks. Rooms also have exterior entrances, and some open onto a wraparound balcony ideal for whiling away lazy afternoons, perhaps on the swing chair, a glass of the estate-grown Sauvignon Blanc in hand. Not far from the main house is a two-room cottage with its own private garden.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The rooms have ceiling fans but no air-conditioning, an issue on hot summer days, though breezes that pick up in the late afternoon generally mitigate the heat by bedtime.
Four of the accommodations (including the cottage) have only a shower; two rooms have tubs with showers. Most of the fixtures are old-style, though the bathrooms have been upgraded in recent years.
Check-in takes place in a small room in the back of the house near the common area where breakfast is served.
A bountiful breakfast, included in the price, incorporates produce from the on-site gardens, as well as eggs from the resident chickens. To walk off breakfast, you can stroll the trails that wind through the ranch's vineyards and gardens. If you order ahead of time, the ranch's chef will prepare a cheese and charcuterie board or a four-course picnic made from estate-grown and other ingredients.
Beltane Ranch sits along Highway 12, aka Sonoma Highway. There's not much within easy walking distance. Sonoma County Transit Bus 30, which stops near the ranch, can get you to Glen Ellen and Sonoma to the south and Kenwood and Santa Rosa to the north, though most tourists don't avail themselves of public transit.
Excellent dining options can be found within half a mile of each other in the town of Glen Ellen (5-minute drive): Aventine Glen Ellen for innovative Italian from a chef with restaurants in San Francisco and Hollywood, Glen Ellen Star for haute-rustic Modern American, The Fig Cafe for French and California comfort food (no corkage fee), and Yeti Restaurant for Indian and Himalayan cuisine. The outdoor decks at Aventine and Yeti overlook the creek that winds through downtown.
Beltane is more the kind of place to bring top-shelf spirits and enjoy a DIY cocktail on the veranda or in the garden, but for a casual good time, check out the bar at Aventine Glen Ellen (5-minute drive); it's separate from the main indoor dining space, though you can also dine in the bar. To hang with the locals and sample some of the 16 craft beers on tap, head north to Kenwood's Palooza Gastropub & Wine Bar (5-minute drive).
WHY WE LIKE IT
From the decor and timeless setting to the relaxed hospitality, nothing at Beltane Ranch seems calculated or overly manicured. A stay at this casual spot along Highway 12 provides a rare glimpse into the Wine Country lifestyle that predates the era of luxury inns and haute cuisine.