Mendocino, California

The Northern California wine country meets the rugged beauty of the Pacific coast at the Inn at Victorian Gardens.




EASY DOES IT: relax in the intimate four-room Inn at Victorian Gardens.

WHY GO This perfect inn on the Pacific Ocean provides proof of the values and loveliness of civilized life. Elegant domesticity, natural beauty, and intelligent design so harmonize that visitors leave feeling new hope for humans in general. In other words, fresh air, terrific food, cultured conversation, and high-thread-count sheets can cure a whole lot of existential ills. PIONEERS OF PAMPERING Several years ago, Dr. Luciano Zamboni, UCLA emeritus professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and his urban-planner wife Pauline retired and moved into a century-old house on a 92-acre onetime sheep ranch just south of Elk, in Mendocino County. Nestled between the ocean and the hills, the house, built in 1904, has been restored far beyond its original elegance. There are only four guest rooms; ours could have been on an Architectural Digest cover, with polished wood floors, antique rugs, art by Picasso and Warhol, and modern Italian and Chinese furnishings. Our window looked out over the green hills where sheep and lambs gamboled—literally gamboled—with the burros that keep the coyotes at bay. The adjoining bathroom had a footed soaking tub the size of a horse trough— albeit a trough for a very well-bred horse. Pauline serves pre-dinner aperitifs in the drawing room, and Luciano, your chef, may take a break from the kitchen to show you his Etruhis kitchen like he is a contestant on some kind of a super-luxe reality show called Can Man Live on Morels Alone? Pauline raises the chickens and lambs and cooks their breasts, eggs, and legs. Not surprisingly, the multicourse candlelit meals are the most coveted dinner reservations in the wine country. Only 16 reservations are taken, Thursday through Sunday, and the set menu changes each day. When you make a reservation, Pauline asks about preferences and food allergies. After that, you don’t think about a thing. Guests dine in the truest, fullest sense, savoring cuisine and conversation, finishing with brandy. LUXURY IN THE DETAILS New-laid eggs for breakfast are eaten at a big country table in the kitchen, where a fire dispels any chill from the morning mist, and fresh coffee as good as wine clears any mental mist left from last night’s indulgence. The morning is beautiful here. Life looks beautiful from here.scan antiques. FOOD FOR THOUGHT Luciano cooks traditional Italian food, and he runs




This perfect inn on the Pacific Ocean provides proof of the values and loveliness of civilized life. Elegant domesticity, natural beauty, and intelligent design so harmonize that visitors leave feeling new hope for humans in general. In other words, fresh air, terrific food, cultured conversation, and high-thread-count sheets can cure a whole lot of existential ills. PIONEERS OF PAMPERING Several years ago, Dr. Luciano Zamboni, UCLA emeritus professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and his urban-planner wife Pauline retired and moved into a century-old house on a 92-acre onetime sheep ranch just south of Elk, in Mendocino County. Nestled between the ocean and the hills, the house, built in 1904, has been restored far beyond its original elegance. There are only four guest rooms; ours could have been on an Architectural Digest cover, with polished wood floors, antique rugs, art by Picasso and Warhol, and modern Italian and Chinese furnishings. Our window looked out over the green hills where sheep and lambs gamboled—literally gamboled—with the burros that keep the coyotes at bay. The adjoining bathroom had a footed soaking tub the size of a horse trough— albeit a trough for a very well-bred horse. Pauline serves pre-dinner aperitifs in the drawing room, and Luciano, your chef, may take a break from the kitchen to show you his Etruhis kitchen like he is a contestant on some kind of a super-luxe reality show called Can Man Live on Morels Alone? Pauline raises the chickens and lambs and cooks their breasts, eggs, and legs. Not surprisingly, the multicourse candlelit meals are the most coveted dinner reservations in the wine country. Only 16 reservations are taken, Thursday through Sunday, and the set menu changes each day. When you make a reservation, Pauline asks about preferences and food allergies. After that, you don’t think about a thing. Guests dine in the truest, fullest sense, savoring cuisine and conversation, finishing with brandy. LUXURY IN THE DETAILS New-laid eggs for breakfast are eaten at a big country table in the kitchen, where a fire dispels any chill from the morning mist, and fresh coffee as good as wine clears any mental mist left from last night’s indulgence. The morning is beautiful here. Life looks beautiful from here.scan antiques. FOOD FOR THOUGHT Luciano cooks traditional Italian food, and he runs

Say hello to the resident donkey.

** FASTFACTS
Inn at Victorian Gardens
14409 S. Highway 1
Manchester, California 95459
707-882-3606
www.innatvictoriangardens.com
RATES: $190—$250 (breakfast included)
HOW TO GET THERE: Fly American (800-433-7300; www.aa.com) or United (800-824-6200; www.united.com) to San Francisco and rent a car. Mendocino is 120 miles north. You could take Highway 101, but Highway 1 is one of California’s most beautiful scenic drives along the Sonoma and Mendocino coastlines. It’s worth the extra time.

 

Say hello to the resident donkey.

** FASTFACTS
Inn at Victorian Gardens
14409 S. Highway 1
Manchester, California 95459
707-882-3606
www.innatvictoriangardens.com
RATES: $190—$250 (breakfast included)
HOW TO GET THERE: Fly American (800-433-7300; www.aa.com) or United (800-824-6200; www.united.com) to San Francisco and rent a car. Mendocino is 120 miles north. You could take Highway 101, but Highway 1 is one of California’s most beautiful scenic drives along the Sonoma and Mendocino coastlines. It’s worth the extra time.

 

Say hello to the resident donkey.

** FASTFACTS
Inn at Victorian Gardens
14409 S. Highway 1
Manchester, California 95459
707-882-3606
www.innatvictoriangardens.com
RATES: $190—$250 (breakfast included)
HOW TO GET THERE: Fly American (800-433-7300; www.aa.com) or United (800-824-6200; www.united.com) to San Francisco and rent a car. Mendocino is 120 miles north. You could take Highway 101, but Highway 1 is one of California’s most beautiful scenic drives along the Sonoma and Mendocino coastlines. It’s worth the extra time.

 

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Stroll the dramatic Pacific coast at Point Arena.

What to Do

  When You’re Not Eating or Sleeping
A short drive from Victorian Gardens, Point Arena Lighthouse, originally built in 1869 and rebuilt in 1908 after a terrible fire, stands on one of the most westerly points of the coast, high on a cliff above the Pacific.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens—the only botanical garden in the country that fronts the ocean—is a small showplace perched on the peninsula.

Basically, the whole town of Mendocino is a historical preservation area. The New England-like village would be unbearably charming if it were any easier to get to. As it is, the Victorian-era houses and remoteness make it a kind of Brigadoon, a slow-paced oasis in a fast-paced world. There’s at least one festival a year for whales, crabs, and mushrooms, plus there’s the Winesong! wine auction, a jazz festival, a folk festival, and the Mendocino Wine Affair.

Nearby Boonville has a beer festival, and Anderson Valley celebrates Pinot Noir with an annual fest. Wine tasting happens all the time, everywhere. For dates of festivals, check www.gomendo.com.

 

Photos: Beach: Wes Walker; Donkey and Inn: Courtesy of Inn at Victorian Gardens

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