With a rich history dating back to the 1800s, the Brewery Gulch Inn is a pinnacle of sophistication, providing a blissful retreat set close to the captivating village of Mendocino- a region that attracts the outdoor enthusiasts, the wine lovers and those who celebrate the slower pace in life.
A mile south of the historic California village of Mendocino, nestled atop a bluff bordered by pine trees, manicured gardens and a bird’s eye view of Smugglers Cove and the endless Pacific Ocean, rests a three-story structure cloaked in a robe of redwood shingles, built from 150-year-old redwood timber logs eco-salvaged from the bottom of Mendocino’s Big River. The Brewery Gulch Inn is not only a luxury 10-room bed and breakfast that showcases the wood in its soaring lobby, private decks and picture windows framing the dramatic ocean views, but their hospitality and cuisine will also take your stay over the top.
This pastoral 10-acre site overlooking the coast has a rich history reaching back to the 1800s when it was the county’s first commercial vegetable farm, dairy, and brewery. The little farmhouse weathered times passing until the mid-1980’s when its fate would change. With a dream in mind, Dr. Arky Ciancutti purchased the property. Now that his family called this home, he was free to envision the enchanting inn he longed to create. Several years later, while enjoying a local brew at Dick’s Place, he overheard an interesting conversation. It seems that the crew while earthquake retrofitting the Big River bridge, discovered massive logs buried in the river’s silty bottom, a byproduct leftover from the days when lumber mills along the Pacific Coast supplied the wood necessary to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.
One of those lumber mills was located at the base of Big River, just north of the Inn. Logging occurred in summer months when river currents weren’t strong enough to float logs to the mill so a system of 4 dammed ‘ponds’ were created to collect them. As they stacked up in the water, the weight pushed the lower logs (called “sinker logs”) into the river silt. When winter rains came, the dams of logs were dynamited, section-by-section, and the logs floated down to the mill, leaving the “sinkers” behind. Perfectly preserved logs, some up to sixteen feet in diameter lie buried since the 1800s.
Dr. Ciancutti instantly knew that these buried treasures were exactly what he had been searching for. For a limited time, the harvest of the sinker’s logs was finally permitted and the Dr. jumped on the opportunity. He and a friend painstakingly began the process of dragging his share of these beauties out of the river to begin the milling and curing stages. The result of a 19-year project is a testament to nature. This wood, now referred to as ‘pumpkins’, is extraordinarily beautiful, with tight grains and unusual variegated tones of blonde, burgundy and a rich nutmeg-brown- a result of more than 100 years in the mineral-rich water of Big River- Arky built his dream inn.
Meanwhile, down in southern California’s Del Mar, Guy Pacurar had started his own quest. Since early childhood, he always wanted to own an inn and now was the perfect time in his life to start the search. Nothing was a good fit until he heard about this small inn and the bounties of Mendocino.
“In looking for an inn, I didn’t want a place with wallpaper, doilies or teddy bears. I was looking for something with a contemporary rusticity. Walking through the front door of the inn, with the light flooding the Great Room through the 3 sets of 12’ French doors, with the Pacific Ocean beyond, I knew I had found the right place.” Guy Pacurar
In 2007, Guy purchased the inn and thus began its transformation into a luxurious country escape, where meticulous attention was paid to every detail to enrich you in a pinnacle of sophistication. Now add gracious hospitality and tempting cuisine and you’ll understand why Brewery Gulch Inn has been recognized as one of 2016 Top 50 Hotels in the World, 2018 Top 15 resort Hotels in the U.S. and the Top 10 in California. It is an honor they whole-heartily deserve and where Guy’s dream has become a reality.
The Great Room is the heart of the Inn. The gathering place. Filled with natural light that floods in from the three-story-high skylight and the giant-sized redwood-trimmed French doors are over-sized feather-stuffed leather club chairs are set centerstage and rich wooden dining tables along its edges. Touches of ecru, cappuccino and beach shell tones are scattered about, as well as bright bouquets and local artist paintings hanging on the walls. Guests can browse the library of hardback books or the extensive selection of 650 DVDs and games. The grand statement sized steel-and-glass fireplace is an ideal spot for playing backgammon, critiquing local wines, or enjoy an afternoon refreshment of hot tea or coffee and house-made scones.
Step outside the French doors and you’ll find comfy rattan seating nooks, bird feeders and a front-row seat overlooking Smugglers and the mighty Pacific Ocean. It’s the perfect spot for making new friends, reading a book or being amazed by nature’s beauty.
As soon as you take in the Inn’s serene atmosphere you are greeted by the smiling Innkeeper. From the moment he said “welcome” I started to relax.
The 10 room Inn offers main or second floor accommodations. All rooms have stunning ocean views, while many include a private deck or balcony. Choose either a queen or king-sized feather-topped mattress that is dressed in Sferra linens so soft it’s like getting a gentle hug all night long.
Lounge in the leather armchairs with Alpaca throws that are poised before the gas fireplace with a large flat-panel television with DVD and Direct TV above. A large mirrored closet, three-drawer dresser and writing desk built by local craftsman are showcased. Wi-Fi Internet and iHome clock-radio further compliment the room. Special touches are to be discovered at every turn, such as bright bouquets, complimentary local and long-distance telephone calls, BGI picture postcards and a bag of Andrew’s delectable dark chocolate bark.
Unwind in the tiled two-person soaking tub with a shower where Asprey and Molton Brown bath products are at hand alongside the fluffy-white cotton Abyss towels and plush robes providing a cocoon of comfort while you relax.
Mendocino is a place where they take food seriously. It is the only county that is non-GMO in California. Brewery Gulch Inn is proud to carry on this tradition by harvesting from their Heritage Garden, in the Anderson Valley where they grow 32 varieties of heirloom tomatoes for the Inn, as well as a number of vegetables and fruit. Their accomplished executive chef Victor Aquirre then skillfully creates culinary treasures for all to enjoy.
When you’re ready to focus on your sense of taste, prepare to be rewarded by their daily culinary creations with a gourmet breakfast of house-made pastries, whipped Belgian hot chocolate, artisan coffee, organic eggs, fresh-squeezed juices. You can also choose from a wide variety of selections from their seasonally-changing, cooked-to-order breakfast menu presented each morning.
I chose one of their specials this morning, a delicious Crab & Spinach Eggs Benedict with a hollandaise sauce that was on point- proper balance between the tang of the lemon and the spiciness from the paprika. Paired with a blackberry, grape and watermelon compote and a hot latte in hand, one could not find a better way to start the day. The Mango Lassi with lime is heaven in a glass.
Everyone is invited to gather in the Great Room for their ‘Wine Hour’. It is a true celebration of life and the bounties of Mendocino. The nightly menu selection may include pepper-seared scallops, Moroccan lamb, Halibut Escabeche, Dungeness crab cakes or mussel bisque. Garden fresh vegetables and classic summer salads, freshly baked bread and tempting desserts are presented alongside.
This evening we enjoyed Creamy Summer Vegetable soup, Chicken Marinara with parmesan curls, steamed baby carrots and green beans, Caesar salad, warm sourdough bread and coconut rice pudding.
To accompany this hearty fare, a selection of locally crafted beers, such as North Coast Brewery and Anderson Valley Brewery, are offered. And for those who enjoy wine, two white and two red varietals await. The shining star is their own label; Fathers and Daughters. Expanding on Sarah’s family roots of grape cultivation in our own Anderson Valley and the newest generational addition with their daughter Ella, 2012 marked the year for launching their new label of Fathers and Daughters offering 7 different wine varietals of exceptional quality.
Many guests choose to make the wine hour their dinner and enjoy the ambiance of the inn for a relaxing evening.
“If there is any chance you won’t arrive in time for this feast, just call ahead and we will keep a plate warm for you to enjoy later.”
Brewery Gulch Inn
When you’re ready to venture out, Mendocino is about the great outdoors, and the options for fun are endless.
- private guided horseback ride through the century old-growth redwood forest
- hiking up to the waterfall along Russian Gulch
- kayak-for-two up Big River’s tidal estuary
- stroll through the picturesque village of Mendocino comprising of Cape Cod saltbox homes, art galleries, gift shops, history museums, cafes and watering holes
- winery tastings and private vineyard lunch in the awarded winning Anderson Valley appellation for Pinot Noirs, Sauvignon Blancs and Gewurztraminers
- live theatre productions from local talents in Mendocino village
- ensuite messages for two
- 9- hole golf course
Brewery Gulch Inn is a family operation. Together, Guy, his wife Sarah and their daughter Ella are the major players alongside their stellar team. This is an Inn where hospitality is king and it appears to be their pleasure to provide. Mendocino is a magical place and this Inn is the perfect place in which to experience it.
“We know we are doing our job well when guests come to breakfast in their robes”
+1 707-937-4752 / +1 800-578-4454
Fax: +1 707-937-1279
9401 North Highway One
Mendocino, CA 95460
Words and Photographs by Shelley Pittman