After a gorgeous morning enjoying the beauty and history of the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, my hubby, Chris, and I headed towards Arroyo Grande to Larry and Karen’s Jackhammer Ranch picking up our dogs, Buster and Homer, along the way. We arrived at Jackhammer Ranch & Saloon in the early afternoon to find Larry’s custom barbeque pit a blaze with a hearty tri-tip sitting atop, and cold IPA on tap. Yes, our dear friends Larry and Karen have their own “saloon” complete with housing for a keg which is directly adjacent to the wine cellar. A little beer, a little wine, a lot of barbeque… just the beginning of what you’ll find at Jackhammer Ranch.
Jackhammer Ranch is so named because the land it’s built on is as solid as rock. So much rock is embedded in the soil, Larry took a jackhammer to bore through the surface and build his dream home. Years in the making, their dream home is certainly worth it. A gorgeous landscape of roses, poppies, and lush pine trees flanked by rolling hillsides, vineyards and olive trees. To say Jackhammer Ranch is peaceful just doesn’t quite do it. Its quiet beauty is reminiscient of Tuscany where one can spend hours contemplating the sun or strolling through the countryside in fascination with the sounds of birds singing, brush crackling under your feet, and the sweet smells of nature.
The house at Jackhammer Ranch is perfectly designed for entertaining. An expansive great room blends with the kitchen creating an ease and interactive atmosphere for both the chef, who is also the lady of the house, Karen, and the guests. High ceilings and French doors bring the countryside indoors yet maintain a level of comfort that nutures friendships new and old. And while guests enjoy watching Karen slice, dice, and chop fresh vegetables for dinner, Larry fills your glass with another round of IPA, a cocktail, or graciously shares a Paso Robles vintage Zinfandel from his wine cellar.
Welcome guests at the Jackhammer Ranch included our dogs! Being more of city dogs, Buster and Homer ran like wild horses and rabbits (Buster being the horse, Homer being the rabbit) through the fields and immediately found friends with Daisy and Bentley, the resident Spaniels. Digging in the dirt, chasing one another around the property… our dogs had no problem sleeping at night and neither did we. Our friends designed the perfect guest house. As Larry put it, “why build an extra bedroom for guests when if they have their own house, they can pass gas, shave, watch whatever they want on TV and not feel like they’re a bother.” Appreciating his honesty, Chris and I ssettled in to the guest house which was a comfortable scaled down version of the main house. Between us and our dogs, we all slept so well that getting up to go wine tasting was no easy feat. We managed to leave the Ranch at a spry one o’clock to head to Paso Robles for wine tasting. First stop, Turley Vineyards. We were lucky to arrive on “pick up party” day. At first I mused that pick up party must mean this is where the singles come to meet over wine tasting and lunch. I was soon corrected as the wineries throw grand Pick Up Parties for wine club members to pick up their wine purchases. If anyone had a question on whether to join the Turley wine club or not, the pick up party would make the decision for them. Feasts of Lamb Bruschetta, Stone Fired Pizza with SunDried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, Pasta with Basil Pesto, Gelato con Limone were a few of the tasty delights featured to pair with their new releases and not-yet-to-be-released old-vine Zinfandels enjoyed on the veranda on a sunny, crisp Spring day.
One of our favorite wineries to visit was L’Aventure which features owner and winemaker Stephan Asseo originally from France. His knowledge, experience and passion for winemaking certainly shines through his now-famous red blends but it was the L’Aventure Estate Rose that we chose to bring home as one sip transported us to the South of France for a lovely lunch along the Cote d’Azur.
Back at the Ranch, we made new friends in Mike and Kathy Lee, owners of the super popular The Cracked Crab in Pismo Beach. On any evening, the restaurant overflows with patrons savoring Crab Cakes (one of my favorite dishes of all time), Clam Chowder, Abalone, Shark, Crab Legs, and filet mignon for the land lovers.
Jackhammer Ranch and Saloon was the perfect haven away from our rush, rush, lifestyle a few hours away and no one was more sad to leave than our dogs, Buster and Homer, who would have loved to have stayed at the Ranch forever digging holes with their new Spaniel friends. If you find yourself near Arroyo Grande, you’ll have to stop by the Ranch but beware… everyone’s known to “get hurt” at the Ranch at least once. If you visit, you’ll know what I mean.