A restored Spanish-style hacienda built in 1928 from local Carmel stones and oak-beamed ceilings crowns the rolling hills of Holman Ranch. Vines climb, stretch, and occasionally lindy hop toward the warmth of the California sun across 19 acres of thin, rocky soils that nurture the grapes that mature into fruity pinot gris and full-bodied pinot noir. The vineyard and winery produces five varietals in total, and the ranch's south-facing olive grove yields distinct extra-virgin oils from 100 fruit-bearing trees of Tuscan origin. The fully functional ranch accommodates equine guests as well as human, with a 20-stall show barn and jumping, dressage, and Western arenas.Over the years, the picturesque grounds' gardens, patios, and warm interior spaces have played host to Hollywood's elite, from Joan Crawford to Marlon Brando to Kermit. Romantic and secluded event spaces with modern amenities dot the property, shaded by elderly trees and the surrounding majestic mountains.
Monterey Bay Aviation's instructors combine more than 18,000 logged flight hours to teach amateur aviators the principles of piloting. In the discovery flight lesson, soon-to-be-sky-people will first get acquainted with the surrounding Monterey Peninsula Airport in a brief facility tour. Learners will then meet with a pilot, who will explain the major parts of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, debrief with a pre-flight checklist, and teach mandatory secret handshakes. After a quick weather briefing, the student will plop down on the pilot seat next to their instructor, kick-start the engines, learn how to taxi the craft, and perform a run-up. Finally, with the client behind the knobs, together the co-pilots take to the skies for about 45 minutes to revel in the panoramic local scenery and the assistance of an in-flight genie. Once grounded, the aeronaut will dish out post-flight details and future flight training options, such as official programs or investments in kite-suits.
1933 was a banner year for Phillip and John Bargetto. Prohibition finally ended, and the brothers were able to reopen their winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Originally from Piedmont, Italy, Phillip and John embraced their passion for growing northern-Italian varietals, twining their hillsides with vines of dolcetto, nebbiolo, and refosco grapes.
Now run by the Bargetto family's third generation, the winery continues to cultivate these same grapes as well as two of Santa Cruz's more well-known varietals, chardonnay and pinot noir. Its most heralded wines hail from the 40 acres of trellised vines at Regan Estate Vineyards, which produces balanced yet concentrated fruit thanks to its sunny hilltop location, loamy soil, and cool breezes from thousands of naturally occurring ceiling fans.
Controlled aging in new-French- or American-oak barrels imbues some of the winery's reds with lingering finishes and toasty sweetness, and stainless-steel barrels ensure that the whites retain their vibrant acidity. Although most of the wines display a more approachable style, the La Vita line embraces the family's Old-World routes, featuring complexly tannic and age-worthy blends of Phillip and John's favored dolcetto, nebbiolo, and refosco grapes.
At Conscious Creations Cafe, owner and head chef Joshua Server fills tables with unique dishes that use exclusively local, organically grown ingredients from sustainable providers. The ever-changing menu shifts every day of the week, filling its pages with dishes designed to showcase the freshest selections from farmers' markets in Salinas and Watsonville or local grocers such as New Leaf and Staff of Life. Goddess salads jumble fresh vegetables such as onions, carrots, and leafy greens into a giant bowl with tangy feta and dressing made with the tears of Athena. Emphasizing vegetarian and occasionally vegan values, the soups on the menu rotate daily depending on pantry availability. Entrees plate a combination of dishes that have included mediterranean gnocchi, tempeh empanadas, and free-range chicken satay, accompanied by a side of mashed potatoes or rice. For an additional cost, guests can complement solid fare with a glass of wine or a recycled wineglass full of beer.
Caution stand-up paddling encourages seasoned surf-riders and new-wavers alike to take to the waters with a multitude of nautical recreation equipment. Test ride a plethora of watery rides from the 2011 collection as you learn the ins, outs, ebbs, and flows of riding a stand-up board, a hybrid craft that combines the sleek style of a surfboard with the regal dignity of a paddle staff. Friendly instructors guide students through one hour of instruction, followed by one hour of self-paddling through the calm waters of Santa Cruz Harbor, dispensing wisdom nuggets on basic paddleboarding techniques, postures, and proper etiquette when courting eligible waves. If weather permits, aquatic athletes can take to Monterey Bay to more closely commune with otters, seals, and dolphins. For 14 days post lesson, newly enamored paddlers can apply a $120 credit and opt to adopt their own pet board from Caution's stable of coastal fillies (board prices start at $1,115). See the online store to peruse the collection. Classes are based on availability, so call ahead to secure a spot amongst the gentle swells.