No place like home
Just a little country farmhouse (From the Fall 2011 issue of SONOMA)
Steve and Ellie share a doorway into time.
Viewed from a distance it looks like a small boat floating in a sea of green. It is placed in close enough proximity to the undulating rows of lush vines that, as you approach, it seems to grow out of the vineyard.
On close inspection it looks like a century-old homestead frozen in time a day or two after the original paint dried.
But more than anything else, it looks like home, a place you would like to spend a long series of days and nights, gazing out the large windows, sitting with a glass of Dunstan pinot on the wooden porch, watching the raptors sail over the sea of vines as an afternoon sun throws gold highlights across the Valley.
It also has quite possibly the unique distinction of being the only remodeling project in Sonoma County history for which a building permit was pulled requesting a smaller footprint.
When Ellie Price decided to restore the original farmhouse on the Durell ranch, the walls had been pushed out to the perimeter, and there was no room for an encircling porch. Believing deeply in the value of a farmhouse porch, she drew the walls back and extended the porch, so now guests can laze about in the open air on a summer afternoon watching the pinot and chardonnay grapes ripen with uninterrupted views to the east and north.
Inside, the ceilings had been dropped and covered with those ugly acoustic panels found in almost every office on the planet. Ellie pushed the ceilings back up and restored the bean board covering virtually all the ceilings and walls.
The house was originally built circa 1904, and has received several remodelings, the most recent started by Ellie in 2002. Her goal was to keep the authentic feel of a turn-of-the-century ranch house, with the addition of modern appliances and hardware.
There is a root cellar outside with one of those doors you lift up off the ground, and descending into the semi-darkness you find the perfect atmosphere for entertaining guests with new or very old vintages.
The roof of the cellar provides a concrete patio with an outdoor fireplace.
The landscaping features a cutting garden fenced with reclaimed wood from the old dairy barn. Fruit trees are interspersed around a fountain and the house is positioned to proffer a perfect view of Sonoma Mountain, the peak of which is the southeast turning point of the Sonoma Coast AVA. That means the ranch house sits in a unique spot spanning
three appellations–Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Valley and Carneros.
Surrounding the house is the logically named Ranch House Block of Dunstan grapes comprised of pinot and chardonnay.
It is an old house made new and still old, and there is a sunny radiance to it that makes leaving almost painful.
(From the Fall 2011 issue of SONOMA)
No place like home