Looking for a great place to stay in Mendocino, my husband and I chose to follow my cousin’s suggestion, to stay at Brewery Gulch Inn. Approaching the property, we noticed the large sign indicating where to turn in from highway 101. We saw the lodge from the driveway sitting at the top of the hill dominating the area. The exterior looked old but stepping into the lobby, we observed our first impression was mistaken. Inside the look is simple, grand, dramatic and contemporary.
Jo Ann, the inn’s manager, greeted us and explained all the rules. Before moving our bags to our room, I noted the amazing view from the great room and the size of the windows with their remarkable view of the ocean continued to fascinate me during our entire visit.
Or room was a perfect model of understated, earthy elegance. Nestled in the trees, with a gorgeous view of a huge tree on the hillside with the ocean beyond, we heard birds singing and smelled the fresh air from greenery and the ocean. We later appreciated the comfortable bed, the lovely sheets and towels, the huge hot tub and great shower and much more.
Proprietor, Guy V. Pacurar (since 2007) had his concierge hat on when we left our room and set up the perfect itinerary for visiting the area the next day. Keep reading to learn more. We were just in time for the famous Brewery Gulch Inn “happy hour".
We happened to mention where we were staying at the liquor store in Mendocino and the Pacific Star Winery, twenty miles away and everyone knew about the wine and buffet served in the evening. The breakfast, though less famous, is terrific. It is cooked to order and my request for items not on the menu were carried out to perfection.
The great room is a wonderful gathering place. There are snacks and drinks all the time, game boards and lots of reading material related to the area are available, and a large deck opens onto a view of the ocean. The inn is intimate, with eleven rooms including one with two bedrooms. Most guests are passing through with short stays, some interested in canoeing, biking, hiking, wineries, birding and more. The location is perfect for exploring the area. The website states: “The heart and soul of Brewery Gulch, the enormous Great Room is anchored by an iconic, four-sided glass and steel fireplace fabricated by a local shipbuilder. This gathering place is filled with light tumbling down from the central core’s three-story high skylight and flooding in from the bank of 13 foot high, redwood-trimmed windows overlooking Smuggler’s Cove. A comfortable living room seating area with thick, sage-green shag carpeting showcases overstuffed furniture in the style of Gustaf Stickley. Surrounding this area are tables of quarter-sawn oak where guests sample the chef’s creations…. A guest computer with Internet access and desktop icons for local vineyards, restaurants, entertainment, driving directions, and airline websites is located on a desk across from the reception desk. A large selection of coffees and teas, along with fresh pastries and fruit, can be found on the sidebar in the Great Room.”
The history of the inn is fascinating as can be seen on the website but its’ placement in an area that was once the site of a clandestine brewery accounts for trees not being logged. And the very special redwood from which much of the inn is built came from an unusual source: “perfectly preserved 100-150 year old logs ranged in diameter up to 16 feet. Virgin growth and guiltless, this redwood was eco-salvaged from the mud and used as a major component in the construction of the present-day Brewery Gulch Inn.”
We followed the suggestions Guy made on our one uninterrupted day in the area. We began driving through the town of Mendocino, exploring it a bit before driving along the Mendocino Headlands State Park (where many hike).
Exiting on to Highway 1, our first stop was the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. At home, in Chicagoland, we visit the Chicago Botanic Gardens weekly but the gardens here were an entirely different experience. Most noteworthy were the giant rhododendrons and the way the gardens extend to the ocean.
We stopped at Ft. Bragg and visited the station for the Skunk Train. We missed the train by a long shot. The train would leave the next day at 10:00 am but, unfortunately without us.
About six miles along, we visited MacKerricher State Park, and found the views spectacular. We walked the boardwalk hoping to find seals but found a family of ground squirrels, instead.
Continuing to drive north, we found the Pacific Star Winery, rather famous for its location on the ocean. Again, the views were spectacular and the wine very good with very wide ranging prices. We were told that whales that had been spotted three days earlier. But they weren’t visible to us.
We had a surprised when we stopped in Ft. Bragg on our way back looking for a restaurant. Being Wednesday afternoon, a farmer’s market was just opening. There was unusual produce, amazing goat cheeses and fantastic baked goods and it was fun to see the long lines of enthusiastic and friendly purchasers.
And so we headed back for our evening “happy hour”, and one more fantastic breakfast before heading back through wine country to Palo Alto. We hate to leave and hope to return before long.
Brewery Gulch Inn
9401 N Hwy 1, Mendocino, CA 95460
Photos: Leon Keer
Logging in Mendocino in the 1800s depended on the Big River for transporting the giant redwood trees to the mill. Our Mendocino B&B has a strong resemblance to the past. Most of the logging occurred during the summer when the current was not strong enough to float the logs to the mill. Twenty-six dams were built on the river, and behind each dam was built a log “deck”. As the log stack got higher, its weight pushed the lowest ones (called “sinker logs”) deeper into the silt. When the rains came, they opened the dams and floated all but the sinkers down river to the mill. Those abandoned logs lay undiscovered for the next 150 years.
Over a century later, during a construction project on a nearby bridge, the “sinker” logs were found deeply embedded in the silt. These perfectly preserved 100-150 year old logs ranged in diameter up to 16 feet. Virgin growth and guiltless, this redwood was eco-salvaged from the mud and used as a major component in the construction of the present-day Brewery Gulch Inn. The location, a part of the original farmstead of Mendocino pioneer, Homer Barton, has spectacular water views and borders hundreds of acres of unoccupied meadows and state-protected forests. Brewery Gulch Inn was purchased by the current owner, Guy Pacurar, in 2007. Its mission has been to enhance and improve the existing ecosystem, increase native habitat and bio-diversity, regenerate the land and create a restful retreat that showcases the fruits of this labor.