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Inn in Mendocino CA

Washington Post 2/25/11 – The Week’s Best Travel Deal’s

Several inns in Northern California’s Mendocino County are offering free nights and other perks during the March and April whale-watching season. For example, Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse, a B&B in Little River, has a third-night-free offer during the town’s whale festival, March 11-14. Rooms start at $188 per night double, including taxes and full breakfast; for a three-night stay, the rate is $125 a night. Guests who stay for only two nights receive a pair of whale-watching tickets (valued at $80) through April.


Quail Cottage at Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse featured in Cottage Style magazine

Mendocino, California is a veritable trove of architectural treasures, none more so than this Victorian farmhouse. Painter of light, Thomas Kinkade, used the structure as his model for his painting, Home Is Where The Heart Is, Number II. Romance without pretense is its hallmark. Built in 1877, the farmhouse sits on two acres. Innkeepers Jo Bradley and Fred Cox tend the garden themselves.


Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse featured in Delta Sky magazine

The Victorian Farmhouse, though thoroughly modern in its comforts, retains the feeling of a farmhouse in what we tend to think of as a truer time. Easy to imagine that your Model T Ford has broken down and you’ve been taken in by a kind family. The carefully chosen antique furniture, four-poster beds and graceful gardens all seem lifted intact from some ancestral past. Best of all, co-owner Jo Bradley will fix the breakfast of your dreams and have it delivered to your door precisely when you’re ready for it. So who cares if the old Ford ever gets fixed?


Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse featured in the San Francisco Chronicle

Much of the Mendocino coast invites comparison to a Thomas Kinkade painting, but this inn, built in 1877 by carpenter and mill foreman John Dennen, really is a Kinkade painting (“Home Is Where the Heart Is II,” which now hangs in the parlor). Surrounded by classic coastal eye candy, Dennen’s is one of the region’s oldest Victorians, with individually decorated, supremely comfortable, cottage-style rooms.

This is a beautiful area. We loved the charm and coziness of the Farmhouse.
-R & L

Visit Mendocino

by  Jeanine Lewis
Though I’ve spent my fair share of time in large metropolitan cities, I can appreciate the serenity of being immersed in nature. Just when I thought I couldn’t live without my phone or toting my netbook everywhere, the sure magic of Mendocino gave me a re-education on the joys of the simple life. Mendocino County delivers all the outdoor sporting activities for hardcore naturists yet provides world-class cuisine and luxury accommodations with Wi-Fi for diehard techie travelers. Nestled between the two extremes, I found Mendocino to be the perfect scenic escape for daytime exploring and fine dining in the evening.

Just 90 miles north of San Francisco, Mendocino offers a New England charm to the West Coast. The high altitude lends for spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and my January trip was blessed with clear skies and warm temperatures. I took advantage of the lovely weather by visiting the botanical gardens, driving the coast, walking the historic village, and getting to know the people of Mendocino.

The community

The art of traditional conversation is certainly not lost here. I found the people of Mendocino to be open in their dialogue with a hospitality I only thought existed in the south. People seemed to know each other by name and visitors were welcomed with warm greetings. Mendocino’s many festivals throughout the year donates 100 percent of its profits to benefit local non-profit organizations like the Mendocino Coast Clinics which provides free healthcare to those who can’t afford it.  All dollars that are circulated in this community go to help its members. In translation, the more you eat and drink here, the more you are contributing to the health and well-being of its citizens. So, I bought a lot of wine. I like to do my part!

The best part of waking up is having a just cup

What do you get when you mix a trained social worker with a passion for brewing great coffee? A just cup! Paul Katzeff, a Cornell School of Social Work graduate, has an amazing story of how he turned his love of coffee into a thriving family-owned and operated business with a philanthropy component. After working for Senator Robert Kennedy at the Housing and Urban Development Department in New York City, Katzeff decided to travel out west and fate brought him to Mendocino where he met the love of his life and started a new career in coffee brewing. His passion for achieving the perfect roast took him to the coffee plantations of Rwanda. After accessing that the coffee bean farmers of Rwanda were under utilizing their crops, Katzeff received a $400,000 U.S. Government grant to build cupping labs in their country. Allowing the farmers to be able to roast and brew their beans, it empowered them to access the value of their product and get a fair price per pound. Katzeff received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Specialty Coffee Association of America for human caring and social justice in poverty destroyed environments. If that isn’t enough to run out and patronize this humanitarian’s great product, it was the best latte I have ever had! When I asked Katzeff what was in it, he responded “The espresso beans in your latte came from Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. The key to the sweetness of the latte is perfectly steamed milk at 130 degrees. If you do the milk right, I can make anything [taste] good.” And good it certainly was. I spent every morning of my trip here for a perfectly brewed just cup of coffee by Mendocino’s Roast Master.

A touch of Provence in the most unlikely of places

As I was having my coffee, I looked across the street at a beautiful historic building. After I said my goodbyes in Thanksgiving, I went over to check out what was in the building. When I walked in, I felt like I had been transported to France. Parisian music was playing and there were all these beautiful original items. I had walked into Sallie Mac, which was a store of imports primarily from France and Italy. There are pictures of Mendocino residents in antique picture frames decorating the store. Everything in Sallie Mac is original and absolutely stunning. Sallie McConnell, owner of Sallie Mac, recalls when an item of which she carried was featured in the 2009 June edition of O Magazine. “The O Effect was overwhelming. We had to hire people just to answer the phone calls to take orders. It was before we even had a website” McConnell recalled. The store is as inviting as it is elegant. You can find some real treasures here, no passport required.


Anderson Valley, located in Mendocino County, has a unique viticulture climate of warm, sunny days and cool, foggy nights. This makes it ideal for sparkling wine grapes due to its colder climate. One of the highlights of my tasting experience here was Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine. It had a burst of strawberry and cherry citrus that turned me into Oliver Twist, “Please, Sir, I want some more.” This sparkling rosé is a must-buy. Anderson Valley is also known for its Pinot Noirs. I thoroughly enjoyed Graziano Family of Wines, Navarro Vineyards, and Toulouse Vineyards for their Pinots. These and many other wineries line the windy road that lead you to Mendocino. Take a moment and stop in on your leisurely drive up or back home.

A place to stay that satisfies both the modern and vintage travelers

It was surprising to discover there are literally scores of places to stay in Mendocino, so it can be daunting to decide where to hang your hat. Since I am right in the middle of those naturists and diehard techies, I wanted a place that could give me a bit of old-world charm with the comforts of a luxury hotel. Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse gave me all the comforts of a four-star hotel in 19th century architecture. I stayed in the signature Mendocino Suite which included a classically elegant king size feather sleigh bed and vintage furniture. There were two wood burning fire places in the large two-room suite. The best amenity was the 4′ x 6′ air-jetted tub. To give you a bit of perspective on the size, Orlando Magic’s center-forward Dwight Howard could fit in this tub comfortably. It was luxurious and peaceful.

The next morning I was served breakfast in my room. The towels were made of pima cotton which is a type of cotton grown primarily in the southwest region of the United States. It is considered to be one of the superior blends of cotton. Pampered is definitely the word I would use to describe my stay. Come here to reconnect with a loved one or enjoy the peace and quiet alone.

The magic of Mendocino

Mendocino, I heard repeatedly from residents, is a place that you just feel ‘this is the spot.’ Every resident I spoke with, who wasn’t born there, said they came on vacation and something within them told them to stay. I can certainly attest to the majestic quality of this place and plan to return again and again!

Mendocino Resources for planning your trip:

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse

Thanksgiving Coffee Company

Sallie Mac

Mendocino County Tourism

Point Cabrillo Light Station

Graziano Family of Wines

Roederer Estate

Toulouse Vineyards

Navarro Vineyards

Mendocino Coast Clinic

Excerpt from Cottage Style

Everyone wants to feed the birds at Quail Cottage, so innkeeper Jo Bradley, a registered veterinary technician whose specialty is in wildlife and exotics, came up with the perfect solution: she developed a recipe that contains ingredients that are good for the amazing array of birds seen on the property.
Jo also enjoys catering to people. “We love to help with all sorts of surprises,” she says. Small weddings and wine tastings are two of the memorable happenings on the property and guests are served full gourmet breakfast in their bedroom.
Quail Cottage featured here was originally the chicken coop on the farm. Jo and Fred worked nonstop for four months to complete the transformation into this beguiling cottage. “We have an amazing variety of critters here,” says Jo, “which includes quail, hence the name ‘Quail Cottage.'” A telescope and binoculars are always at the ready.
Jo and Fred have combined treasures from their antiquing forays all around Mendocino County, as well as a bed box Jo inherited from her grandmother, to decorate the snug haven, perfect for travelers with the desire to temporarily run away from home. Its 900 square feet features a fully equipped kitchen and two decks with ocean and forest views. The bedroom has a woodburning fireplace and a Jacuzzi for two.

Excerpt from Delta Sky Magazine


By Owen Edwards
Photographs by Chris Rogers

Mendocino California InnSAN FRANCISCO, FOR all its charms, can be a “been here, done all that” experience for people making their third and fourth visits – and being so appealing, the City by the Bay usually inspires at least a handful of return trips. Cable car? Check. Fisherman’s Wharf? Check. Etc., etc? Check and check. Eventually, even the most ardent San Franatics, given some extra time, look beyond the soaring brick red piers of the Golden Gate Bridge and plan a side trip.

Most, I’ll hazard a guess, visit the famous vineyard country of the Sonoma and Napa valleys. As someone who lives in that area, I can’t blame them. But just an hour farther up U.S. Highway 101 is another, less heralded wine-producing region, the Anderson Valley, and through that pastoral portal you can enter California’s splendid Mendocino coast. If you can find a more beautiful meeting of ocean and dry land (please, do not even think of the Hamptons), then I congratulate you. Sit on a rocky bluff on the western edge of the town of Mendocino and you may just change your mind.

ONCE IN A GREAT while, the adage that getting there is half the fun is completely true. The drive northwest up California Route 128, which peels off the 101 Freeway at Cloverdale, is one of those memorable times. The road, winding up and over the Yorkville Highlands and then through the Anderson Valley, is both a main route to the coast and a wonderful destination in itself. As you follow the course of the Navarro River you pass more than a dozen of the state’s lesser-known but excellent vineyards, and go through tiny, charming towns such as Boonville, Philo and Navarro. It’s not possible to describe all the pleasures along the way (or this article will never reach the coast), but I will name at least a few. A fuller listing can be found in the excellent book Mendocino: The Ultimate Wine and Food Lover’s Guide, by Heidi Haughy Cusick (Chronicle Books).

The Boonville General Store serves a delectable lunch, or, if you’re more hurried than hungry, wonderful pastry. Co-owner Julie Liebenbaum, a refuge from Los Angeles who has cooked for Zuni, one of San Francisco’s pioneer California cuisine restaurants, creates desserts that are one of Boonville’s most unexpected boons. With any luck, you’ll arrive on a day when she has prepared a feather-light galette using fresh fruit from orchards in the surrounding hills. And how does this sophisticated, urban gourmet cook feel about living in such a small (population 715), out-of-the-way place? ”To tell you the truth, says Liebenbaum, dusting the flour off her hands, “I have more of a social life here than I ever did in L.A. or San Francisco. After all, I know just about everyone in town.” Presumably, such events as the Philo Yacht Club boat races which take place when winter rains have swollen the Navarro, and admit vessels 2 feet and under only – keep local society abuzz.

Lodging in Mendocino CountyShould travelers stop to taste all the valley’s wines, they and their cars might easily become one with the redwoods. Contact the Mendocino Winegrowers Alliance for a complete list and make your own choices. Two of my favorites are Husch and Roederer. Husch dates from 1968, when Tony and Gretchen Husch planted their first vines, and is generally considered the first of the modern vineyards in the valley (owned for the past 24 years by the H.A. Oswald family). The rose-covered tasting room, a former granary, evokes life in the Anderson Valley a century or so ago. More to the point for today’s visitor, the pinot noir is fine.
Just across the road is an elegant slice of Europe, the Roederer tasting room, where some of America’s best champagne-style wines can be sampled. In an airy room decorated with framed menus from White House dinners, you can sample several crisp, dry sparkling whites, including-if you’re lucky-a rare reserve, such as a 1990 L’Ermitage, or some other so called library wine, one that will stay effervescent in the memory though it’s long gone from wine merchants’ shelves.

Lodging in Mendocino CountyFor several miles before reaching the Pacific just south of the town of Albion, the highway passes through coastal forests of towering redwoods. Readers of J.R.R. Tolkien may be reminded of the dark, nearly impenetrable forest known as Mirkwood. Second-growth trees tower hundreds of feet up from the great stumps of old growth cut a century ago, making a walk through these groves like an evocative stroll among the broken columns of Ephesus.

Then, abruptly, the road breaks into the sun as the redwoods give way to open bluffs where the Navarro River empties into the Pacific; as the Anderson Valley is left behind, the rugged Mendocino coastline begins. Compared to Napa and Sonoma, the area seems distinctly underpopulated, and yet the abundance of food, wine and lodging is on a par with these seductive sister valleys to the south.

To get a sense of what life was like in the early days of Mendocino’s settlement-though with far better plumbing-there’s no better place to stay than Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse, a charming and tastefully restored bed-and-breakfast in a house built by John and Dora Emma Dennen in 1877. Besides being one of the oldest homes in the area, the farmhouse has a claim to fame as the subject of one of art marketeer Thomas Kinkade’s most popular works, Home Is Where the Heart Is II. (The painting hangs in the small parlor.) Each of the 11 guest rooms has its own name-Seabreeze, Creekside, Tree View-and personality. More important, on cool nights, most have their own fireplaces, with plenty of dry wood.

Inn in Mendocino CAThe Victorian Farmhouse, though thoroughly modern in its comforts, retains the feeling of a farmhouse in what we tend to think of as a truer time. Easy to imagine that your Model T Ford has broken down and you’ve been taken in by a kind family. The carefully chosen antique furniture, four-poster beds and graceful gardens all seem lifted intact from some ancestral past. Best of all, co-owner Jo Bradley will fix the breakfast of your dreams and have it delivered to your door precisely when you’re ready for it. So who cares if the old Ford ever gets fixed?

Once you’ve selected your lodgings, the next order of business – not a difficult one – is to see the area. There is plenty to do on the Mendocino coast. The full beauty of this part of California can best be experienced at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 47 acres of both cultivated and wild landscape (seven miles north of the town of Mendocino). In the course of an easy half-mile walk, you pass from classically planted gardens of heathers, dahlias and a dazzling variety of rhododendrons through a gate that keeps the deer on the wild (and presumably less delicious) side. After a ravine filled with ferns and a grove of gnarled Monterey cypresses, you step out into the light on high, bare bluffs over the ocean, at the end of the gardens and the edge of America.

Another choice? Marvel at the California Western “Skunk Train” once pulled by a 1924 Baldwin Mikado vintage locomotive. (“Skunk” because some of the fuel used to run gas-powered rail motorcars caused locals to complain, “You can smell ’em before you see’ em.”) A later-model engine will pull you through a redwood forest from Fort Bragg to Northspur. Or you can head out to sea on one of the sport fishing boats based in Noyo Harbor-or just tuck into the dreamy crab Louie in season, or failing that, shrimp Louie, at Sharon’s by the Sea. Or you can play a round or two at the nine-hole Little River Inn Golf Course. Or drop in at the Sweetwater Spa & Inn for a hot-tub soak and a massage. For nature lovers, there are state parks and beaches thousands of acres of hikable and bikable terrain.

Mendocino Coast LodgingBut for all the pleasures to be found north and south of Mendocino, the town itself is a destination with a time suspended charm worthy of Brigadoon. There’s nothing better, at the end of a busy day of coastal indulgences, than simply walking around the town taking in the sights. The narrow streets, with their buildings of weathered redwood and cypress and white-steepled churches, sloping gently down toward the restless Pacific, may be reminiscent, for an Easterner, of the lovely old towns in Maine (without the toll taken by long, hard winters). Perhaps because of the ease of walking downhill, perhaps because when walking through a place with such a historic feeling one is drawn to stand on what feels like the end of the American frontier, there is a calming, almost meditative quality to a stroll from the uphill, eastern part of town to the bluffs overlooking the ocean. Whatever else you do on any given day, include a meander through Mendocino. It is almost impossible to spend a day in Mendocino without wondering, a little wistfully, what it would be like to quit the old day job and start looking for a house there.

In this age of growth and sprawl, Mendocino has shifted into reverse. It’s a town at least one-third smaller than it was in the boom years of the 19th century, and local no-growth activists intend to keep it that way. The great fear is what is known as “Carmelization,” a foreboding reference to the famed tourist destination on California’s Monterey Peninsula. On one evening, I dine at the Albion River Inn with a well-known writer who has lived in Mendocino for years; I happen to ask her about a couple of ramshackle abandoned cottages falling apart on a piece of land right in the middle of town. Reddening slightly, the writer says that she and her ex-husband own the houses. “We’d applied for a permit to build a new commercial building where the post office would relocate,” she says, “but as soon as the project was announced, people were demonstrating and putting up protest signs on the property. So we abandoned the idea and now have a useless piece of land with a couple of uninhabitable cottages.”

Any day spent wandering around Mendocino will end as classic travelogues must, with the sun setting in the west, and the satisfied if footsore traveler-you, for instance-sitting on a bluff, watching waves explode in foam on the rocks below, watching the cormorants settle in for the night and thinking happily of a fine supper to come. You can be busy in Mendocino, or you can be lazy; either way, you

Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse featured in the San Francisco Chronicle

Cozy coastal comfort
Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse

Christine Delsol

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Much of the Mendocino coast invites comparison to a Thomas Kinkade painting, but this inn, built in 1877 by carpenter and mill foreman John Dennen, really is a Kinkade painting (“Home Is Where the Heart Is II,” which now hangs in the parlor). Surrounded by classic coastal eye candy, Dennen’s is one of the region’s oldest Victorians, with individually decorated, supremely comfortable, cottage-style rooms.

Comfort zone

I can’t say definitively that this was the greatest number ever encountered on one bed, but getting under the covers required displacing 12 pillows. The time and effort that took is the closest thing to a complaint inspired by my night in the Creekside room (each room has its own decor) at the end of the carriage building. The feather bed and dual-control electric blanket made a snug winter nest after the fire in the free-standing, wood-burning fireplace died down. The antique furniture was handsome but low-key, except for the imposing four-poster mahogany bed. The closet was small, but I found an extra luggage stand in the room.

Bath and beyond

Standing out in the small but adequate bathroom were a roomy medicine cabinet, an efficient wall heater and thick, luxuriant towels. One demerit: The molded plastic shower came with one of those infernal, all-in-one ball-type faucets that regulate water flow and temperature in a single motion. A facial cleansing towelette and miniature tube of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste were nice touches among the toiletries, which included inn-branded bath soap, shampoo/conditioner and lotion.

Grounds for approval

Just across Highway 1 from the ocean, the 2-acre property includes the main house, another building incorporating the original carriage house, a more secluded third building and an ocean-view cottage at the back. The site invites strolling through orchards, gardens, cypress and redwood trees, with quail, deer and other wildlife. Buckhorn Cove’s tide pools and beautiful rock formations are within a five-minute walk.

Geared up

An incomprehensible alarm clock/radio/CD player on the night stand is the closest to high tech, or any tech, you’ll get here. No television, no telephone — that’s not what this place is about. It does have free wireless Internet access, and a data port is available in the parlor. Fax available on request.

In the vicinity

The town of Mendocino, with all its dining options, is 2 miles to the north. Van Damme State Park surrounds the inn, and the Anderson Valley wine region is within a half hour’s drive.

Good to know

No smoking, no pets. The closest spot to get cell phone service is in Mendocino — and, according to the innkeepers, that’s only if you have Cingular. Binoculars, hair dryers and irons are available upon request. Full concierge services and day-trip planning are also available.

Highs and lows

The wood-burning stove really did light with one flick of a match and stayed lit, and the wood supply was just right to keep the fire going until bedtime, providing ample heat even on a bitter winter night. On the downside, there was only one cookie on my bed. Yes, I’d told them I was traveling alone when I booked, but I paid the same price a couple would, so don’t I deserve the full ration of cookies? Such is the magnitude of my cavils.

won’t be disappointed.

~ A secluded cove is just a short walk across the street