Homes Away From Home

(page 6 of 9)

The 1927 Craftsman sleeps seven and includes original features like cast-iron bathtubs. (Photos by Max Whittaker)

Great Bear Vineyards

A few years ago, a winemaking weekend at a Sonoma vineyard had nearly enticed Marcus and Jenny Meadows-Smith, then aspiring vintners, to fork over a hefty $3,000 for the pleasure of taking part in the process. Instead, Jenny went on to complete a winemaking certificate program at UC Davis Extension, and the agriculturalist couple wondered, “If we were tempted by such a weekend in wine country, maybe other people would be too, especially if it were more affordable.”

Above: Watch the sun rise over the horizon from your vineyard-facing bedroom. Below: Great Bear's owners Jenny Meadows-Smith (pictured) and her husband Marcus grow 20 acres of wine grapes in Davis.

So this past April, the owners of the new Great Bear Vineyards in Davis—a 20-acre plot mostly planted with cabernet sauvignon grapes—became Airbnb hosts, listing their four-bedroom 1927 farmhouse, which holds up to seven people, for $250-$450 a night (the Meadows-Smiths live in the Mission-style winery house next door). While the home’s vintage details have been beautifully preserved, from the dining room’s original wood built-ins to the cast-iron bathtubs, many amenities have been modernized. For example, a fully equipped kitchen—chef’s-grade appliances, every utensil imaginable and a Keurig coffee setup—can easily handle dinner prep for large parties. On breezy summer nights, the screened porch is the perfect spot to set the table and watch the parade of wildlife (including turkeys and jackrabbits) while you eat. A private wine tasting is available upon request.

During harvest season—which falls during August or early September, depending on the year’s rains—guests are invited to pick grapes, a crack-of-dawn endeavor that ensures the fruit is cool for transport to an off-site winemaking facility. (Or, if toiling in the fields at 6 a.m. is not your idea of a good time, taking in the cotton candy sunrises might be worth setting the alarm for.) Luckily, such vineyard duties aren’t required to sample any of the vintages, including a light, not-for-sale 2017 zinfandel, billed as “much more fun than your average rosé.” Schedule your stay (there’s a two-night minimum) during the monthly public-tasting weekend, when the sunny courtyard at the main house is melodious with glasses raised in toasts. Any other time, just knock on the winery door—here, the pours seem extra deep for farmhouse guests, proving that neighborliness is next to godliness. $250-$450 per night plus fees. bit.ly/greatbearvineyards —Leilani Marie Labong