Imagine having your own beautiful cottage in the middle of a vast winery. Then imagine yourself standing in your own private patio, overlooking gently sloping mountains dotted with rows and rows of bright green grapevines. The vista includes a lush pergola providing a shady place to relax and a picnic area, should you choose to eat outdoors. Nearby, there is a small fish pond, and even your own personal bocce court.
At Landmark Vineyards, you don’t have to imagine it – you can ‘live it” for a night, a week or longer. It’s a beautiful and intimate Sonoma Valley retreat located in Kenwood, California. This family owned and operated winery offers visitors the opportunity to stay in their lovely Guest Suite or their charming one-bedroom Cottage. It’s a entirely different experience from staying at a traditional hotel, offering a romantic and private respite among the vineyards of California Wine Country. It’s pet-friendly, too.
Our two night stay in the artfully decorated and supremely comfortable Guest Suite, attached to the main winery building, was punctuated by daily walks around the vineyard, followed by elegant wine flights and charcuturie, and later clear, crisp starry night skies. For two city-folk like us, it felt like a dream. The Guest Suite is supplied with towels galore, comfy robes, wifi, refrigerator, microwave, toaster, silverware, china, flat-screen TV, CD player and coffeemaker. At the end of the Suite is a glass wall, capturing the marvelous views of the winery.
Damaris Deere Ford, the great, great granddaughter of the steel plow inventor, John Deere, started the winery. In the early 1990’s she recruited her son, Michael Deere Colhoun and his wife Mary to move from the East Coast and join her as partners in the winery. Truly a family team, they have succeeded in making Landmark Vineyards a top ranked winery with an early focus on white wines that has now branched out to reds. Its very successful and award-winning Overlook Chardonnay now shares the spotlight with the Grand Detour Pinot Noir.
The John Deere influence on the winery reveals itself in different ways, some obvious, others less so. Upon entering the vineyard you can’t help but notice the classic green and yellow John Deere tractor (No. 2) in the parking lot, but did you notice the John Deere mailbox out in the street or the tiny tractor night lights in the bathrooms? When you visit, see what other JD icons you can spot.
Less obvious is the naming of the Landmark wines, an homage to the Deere family, including the Overlook Chardonnay, named after the home where John Deere lived. Grand Detour is the name of the town in Illinois where John Deere started his inventing. The Damaris Chardonnay is named after the founder and the new Steel Plow Syrah…well, you figure that one out.
Your raison d’etre for staying at a winery is the wine tastings. After a guided walking tour of the grounds in which the complete wine making process was explained to us, we went to the Wine Tasting room, where visitors are welcome from 10 am to 4:30 pm. We sampled the classic Overlook Chardonnay and the newer Grand Detour Pinot Noir and learned another secret of its name. Their newly produced reds are an actual “grand detour” from the traditional white wines for which Landmark has become famous.
Along with your flight of wines, you can buy assorted cheeses and charcuterie, or even bring your own lunch and stay to enjoy it all in the lovely picnic areas around the vineyards. On Saturdays, local musicians entertain on the patio between 1 – 4 pm. There are also free horse and carriage rides, and a self-guided tour of the winery, with signs providing information on the different grapes that will ultimately be blended into the Landmark’s wines.
After enjoying the Landmark’s wines, you can become a member of their Heritage Wine Society. This exclusive club provides access to limited production, members only wines, preferred pricing (20% discount), release parties, and being a part of their community of wine enthusiasts.
Recently, Mike and Mary came up with an unusual way for wine lovers to join their Landmark family. Friends of the Vineyards get to adopt their very own row of vines, tagged in their name and have their own personalized label from the estate vineyard on their wine bottles. This is a truly distinctive way to become a part of the wine country lifestyle, which also includes private tours and meetings with their award-winning winemakers.
“Living” at Landmark Vineyards for a couple of days was an absolute treat. Our next visit will be during the wine making season so we can remove our shoes and socks to crush the grapes. Now imagine that! If you can join us, maybe we’ll see you there; we know we can’t wait to return for more of the Landmark Vineyards hospitality and relaxation.
101 Adobe Canyon Rd
Kenwood, CA 95452