Have a Holman Halloween

Whether you are raiding – er, “checking”¬†ūüėČ – your kids’ Halloween candy,¬†or trying to get rid of that bag of¬†leftovers after the 31st –¬†we’ve got the perfect Holman Ranch wine and Halloween candy pairings.¬†Join us at the Tasting Patio in Carmel Valley for a free Halloween candy pairing with the purchase of a wine tasting, or shop our wines and try them at home!

Sweet Vineyard Wedding in Northern California

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Photos by This Love of Yours…Photography

With elegant features¬†like lace and¬†soft pastels, there wasn’t a¬†single charming detail we didn’t love about Jenn & Jim’s¬†sweet Fall vineyard wedding at our Northern California venue.

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Photos by This Love of Yours…Photography

We’re so happy Jenn & Jim found Holman Ranch because, when you hear their proposal story, it’s clear that the ranch & vineyard was truly the ideal spot for this wine-loving couple.
“Jim proposed…in Napa at V. Satuii. We enjoyed a romantic picnic and wine as he surprised me with the ring of my dreams. We love weekend trips to Napa for wine tasting and we make it a point to go a least once a year. He had planned the trip to Napa during the golf tournament so I thought it was for that. However, the trip was really for the proposal and I had no clue.”
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Photos by This Love of Yours…Photography
Q: How did you meet?
A:¬†“We met at Cisco Systems where we both worked at 5 years ago. We were first introduced at our work off-site event at DnBs and immediately hit it off. I am still at Cisco, but Jim is now at Nintendo.”
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Photos by This Love of Yours…Photography
Q: Where did you go on your first date?
A:¬†“We went to Cascal in Mountain View, which is a tapas restaurant where we enjoyed Spanish tapas and sipped on sangria. We went to catch a movie after our dinner date.”
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Photos by This Love of Yours…Photography
Q: What are the top 3 reasons you chose to have your wedding at Holman Ranch?
A:¬†“1) I wanted an outdoor, rustic romantic setting 2) I wanted a venue with a barn/carriage house
3) Holman was the firts venue we visited and was also the last. It was love at first site as Holman had everything that I was looking for.”
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¬†Photos by This Love of Yours…Photography
Q: What family, cultural, or other traditions did you honor on your wedding day?
A:¬†“My dad passed in April 2016. Although he was not physically there, we tried to include him in the wedding as much as possible. We had a memorial table for him and reserved a chair for him with his picture during the ceremony. He was mentioned in all the speeches, which was very touching for us.”
¬†Photos by This Love of Yours…Photography
Q: If there is one thing about your wedding day that you know you’ll never forget, what would it be?
A:¬†“Just having all of our loved ones together in one place and being able to share our special moment with them and being able to host a party for them at such a gorgeous venue. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how gorgeous the venue and wedding was.”
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Photos by This Love of Yours…Photography
Q: Is there something you would do differently that you can share with other couples?
A:¬†“EVERYTHING was PERFECT! Beautiful Venue, beautiful weather, and wedding flowed seamlessly.¬† I only wished we could have ended the wedding at a later time. Ten o’clock was too early and everyone was sad that the party had to end!”
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Photos by This Love of Yours…Photography

Chic Fall Northern California Ranch Wedding at Holman Ranch

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Photos by Jaimi Lynn Photography 
With a little glittery gold, sparkly¬†accessories and plenty of rich Autumn¬†colors, this Northern California ranch wedding¬†was the picture of rustic glamour and a showcase of how fabulous a Fall ranch wedding can be. But don’t let their impeccable style fool you, this beautiful couple is as down-to-earth as our ranch, as their story will reveal.
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Photos by Jaimi Lynn Photography 
Meeting through mutual friends on a party bus headed back¬†home from a Tim McGraw concert, Lauren & Matthew’s first date was humble; Red Robin and a movie. Which, eventually, led to this sentimental proposal:
“It was perfect. We had just gotten back from a camping trip with both of our families. It was just us at home at 11pm at night. We were laying in bed talking about how wonderful it was that our families get along so well. Then he popped the question. I thought he was kidding so I said, “duh, of course I will.” He replied with, “I’m serious, the ring is on the nightstand.” He then got out of bed grabbed the ring off the night stand and got down on one knee and said a bunch of romantic sweet things that I cannot remember because I was in shock. I cried, he cried, I said of course! Then he went to sleep and I was up until dawn figuring out if I should call anyone at 11 o clock at night. It was perfect”
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Photos by Jaimi Lynn Photography 
Q: What are the top 3 reasons you chose to have your wedding at Holman Ranch?
A: 1) “Everything was in one location 2) That view!!!! 3) The option to pick out our own vendors.”
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Photos by Jaimi Lynn Photography 
Q: If there is one thing about your wedding day that you know you’ll never forget, what would it be?
A:¬†“Oh it’s so hard to pick just one or a few things. They say was seriously perfect. There is nothing I would change. I will never forget our ceremony. It was 100% us. Our officiant made it so personal and intamint.”
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Photos by Jaimi Lynn Photography 
Q: Is there something you would do differently that you can share with other couples?
A: “Nope. There is not one thing I would do differently. The only advice I would give to other couples would be it is your day. You will not be able to make everyone happy so do the things that you want. If you want to do a first look but your mom doesn’t want you to, do it anyways. Make sure your weddibg shows the personality of the people that are getting married. And don’t sweat the small stuff on the day of. No one is going to know except you. And just enjoy the day. It goes by so fast.”
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Photos by Jaimi Lynn Photography 

What Wine Goes With Chocolate?

What wine goes with chocolate

So you find yourself with a tempting brick of dark chocolate in one hand, the other aimlessly gliding across a full wine rack, unsure of which bottle to pull.

 What wine goes best with chocolate?

As one of only a few Carmel Valley wineries who hosts visiting wine lovers from all over the country, we have learned that pairing wine with chocolate can be a tricky endeavor, even the devoted wine enthusiast. Due to its sweetness, as well as the various types available, the wrong combination can produce an unpleasant and often bitter tasting experience.

That’s why we’ve created an in-depth guide to help you select the ideal glass of wine for whatever type of chocolate treat you find yourself enjoying and bring out the delicious and complex flavors of both items.

The Basics of Wine Pairing

In order to begin pairing, there are a few helpful rules that can make selecting an appropriate wine much easier.

  1. Find the balance: with wine, there are several important characteristics that apply to taste and composition.  These include:
  • Acidity
  • Fat
  • Bitterness
  • Salt
  • Sweets
  • Alcohol

Balancing these flavors with similar or oppositional tasting foods creates a more complex experience.  Mixing and matching these flavors together also opens up many different pairing possibilities that you can experiment with.  For example, if you’re trying to pair a sweet white chocolate, go for an equally sweet Ice Wine.

  1. Wine first: when tasting pairings together, it is recommended that you sip the selected wine first.  This is especially true when tasting chocolate and wine, as chocolate is typically a much sweeter taste.  

Potential Wine & Chocolate Pairings

Because of the number of different chocolate flavors, it is important to look at chocolate and wine pairings in categories.  

While a rich Cabernet may go wonderfully with extra dark chocolate, it would be far too bitter for a white chocolate. Because of this diversity in flavor, our guide is organized by chocolate category to bring you unique and well-balanced pairings.  

The Classics

Pinot Noir and Dark Chocolate pairingRanked by the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate from the highest (dark chocolate) to the lowest (milk or white chocolate), we start with the classics.

Dark Chocolate: Generally chocolate is defined as ‚Äėdark‚Äô if it contains more than about 40% cocoa, but there are¬†is a considerable range of products available from 35% to 99%.

  • Smooth Dark chocolate, containing around 54% or less of cocoa, is typically the most popular type of dark chocolate as it balances the amount of sweetness with more bitter natural cocoa. ¬†
  • Medium Dark chocolate contains around 60% cocoa and as opposed to smooth dark, goes best with drier reds such as:
  • Extra Dark chocolate pairs similarly to medium dark chocolate because of their relatively high percentages of cocoa. ¬†For chocolate that is above 70% cocoa, dry wines are an excellent selection, including:
    • Cabernet sauvignon (15)
    • Zinfandel (15)

Milk Chocolate typically contains less than 35% cocoa and is a creamier, sweeter variety, making it a better match for slightly sweeter reds, such as:

  • Creamy Sherry
  • Aged Vintage Port
  • Rose

 Sauvignon Blanc and White Chocolate pairingWhite Chocolate exchanges cocoa butter for cocoa powder, giving it a unique taste compared to other traditional chocolates. This sugary delight is complimented best by sweeter wines and may bring out the more subtle fruity or nutty notes in them. These might include:

  • Our Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Sweet Love, is a Sauterne inspired dessert wine that is the perfect blend of sweet & tart.
  • Ice Wine(13)
  • Champagne (2)

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Wine not only tastes spectacular with solid chocolate, it can also enhance flavored chocolates.  

The key with flavored chocolates is finding wines that pair well with the flavor within the chocolate first, then looking at the type of chocolate itself.

Classic Caramel & Dark Chocolate is a perfect match for our late-harvest Pinot Noir, like our warm and robust Big Daddy with prominent dark chocolate notes, has a subtle sweetness to it that strikes a pleasant balance between the more sugary caramel and the slightly bitter dark chocolate. (3)

Pinot Noir and Chocolate covered nuts pairingNut-Infused Chocolate or Chocolate Covered Nuts do best with a wine that will emphasize the already present nutty flavors.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon with dark chocolate covered almonds (11)
  • Marie Claire suggests Pinot Noir with Snickers! Given how well this delicious wine compliments caramel and chocolate, it‚Äôs not a big surprise. Try our 2011 Hunter‚Äôs Cuvee Pinot Noir with this snack.

Mint & Dark Chocolate is one of the more sophisticated types of chocolates to pair with. Try with Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. (12)

Fudge is typically much richer and sweeter than traditional chocolate. A Michigan fudge maker recommends Tawny Port for milk chocolate fudge and Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvigon, Bordeaux, Merlot, and Zinfandel for darker chocolate fudges.

Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate pair best with wines that will bring out the natural nuttiness. Some have found that Peanut Butter Cups pair especially well with wines such as Riesling (10)

Salted Carmel & Milk Chocolate plays on the ever popular pairing of sweet and salty.  For an excellent wine pairing, the wine should be congruent with the chocolate and balance out the salt.  Some options include:

  • Moscato d‚ÄôAsti (9)
  • Lambrusco (9)

Chocolate Covered Fruits

Pairing with both fruit and chocolate simultaneously could leave any casual wine drinker guessing. These tips will help you find the right fit.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries, is there anyone who doesn’t adore them? This fruit fusion pairs well with wines that bring out the strawberry flavor, such as:

  • Chardonnay (1)
  • Red Zinfandel (8)
  • Rose Champagne (8)

Chardonnay and Chocolate Fruits pairingOrange-Infused Dark Chocolate is complimented best by white wines with citrus notes, according to She Knows.

Chocolate blueberries pair wonderfully with Merlot, which can help to bring out the sweetness of the blueberry flavor. (17) 

Raspberry & Dark Chocolate or Raspberry Truffles are incredibly rich and sweet. Because of this, they can pair well with lighter, sweet whites or full-bodied reds with fruit flavors, such as:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon (1)
  • Sparkling Brachetto (7)

Cordial Cherries produce triple the sweetness with milk chocolate, syrup center and sweet cherries. Pairs with red varietals that can bring out the unique cherry flavor.  These blends include:

  • Port (4)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (5)
  • Syrah (5)

The Unexpected Twist

Chocolate Covered Bacon has grown in popularity in recent years. With the flavors of salty & sweet playing off each other, possible pairings include:

  • Riesling (6)
  • Chardonnay (6)

Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans work well with Shiraz due its natural mocha flavors. (16 & 17)

#HolmanRanchWine – Share Your Favorite Chocolate & Wine Pairings with Us

While they are certainly some helpful guidelines for discovering what wine goes with chocolate, you may find that the answer depends heavily on your own personal preferences, not to mention the unique type of chocolate you’re enjoying.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with combinations you suspect will have a nice finish.

When you uncover your winning wine and chocolate pairing, tells us about it in the comments below or share on Instagram with hashtag #HolmanRanchWine.


The Uniquely Rich History of Carmel Valley

From high in the Ventana Wilderness, the Carmel River winds 36 miles through steep canyons into the verdant Carmel Valley. For centuries, native tribes fished along this river, first chronicled in 1602 by Sebastian de Vizcaino.
Vizcaino called the waterway El Rio del Carmelo, describing it as ‚Äúlined with black poplars and other trees of Castile.‚ÄĚ The shallow riverbanks also welcomed deer, mountain lions, and waterfowl, and soon ranches, dairies and orchards thrived under the flags of Spain, Mexico and, finally, the United States.

Long before that, of course, Native Americans settled in the valley, with the Esselen tribe well established by the time Spanish explorers documented them in the late 1760s. (In 2010 the skeletal remains of a Native American woman who likely lived more than 3,000 years ago were uncovered by trenching work at Carmel Valley Ranch).

When the Spanish arrived, most of the Esselen people were rounded up and forced to live within the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo, leaving much of their traditions behind. When the Mexican government secularized the mission lands, one of the first ranchers in Carmel Valley, Don Jose Manuel Boronda, was granted the Los Laureles Rancho ‚ÄĒ 6,625 acres that included what is now Holman Ranch.

In 1928, San Francisco businessman Gordon Armsby was attracted to the rich farmland and leisurely pace of Carmel Valley, and purchased 600 acres in the Los Laureles area of the Valley, including the parcel that would be the Holman Ranch.

Carmel Valley’s true modern era began in 1946 when Byington Ford and his brother Tirey Ford developed the Carmel Valley Village and Airway Market, first known as the General Store, and accommodated a barber shop, a drug store and soda fountain, a beauty shop, and a liquor store. All were in walking distance of the Airpark and decorated to resemble a Mexican village.

Today vineyards, tasting rooms, boutiques, golf courses and resorts decorate the landscape, attracting visitors and locals alike. Most don‚Äôt realize that Carmel Valley is home to the Jamesburg Earth Station, one of the world’s largest tracking satellite dish antennas. NASA used this telecommunications facility during its Apollo moon landings. Currently, a SETI project called Lone Signal uses the antenna to send messages from Earth to would-be extraterrestrial civilizations.

Tracking, preserving and promoting Carmel Valley‚Äôs uniquely rich California history is the From its first meeting in 1987 it soon incorporated and became a nonprofit organization. As it claims in its motto, the society is: ‚ÄúDedicated to the Future of Our Past.‚ÄĚ
Through fundraisers, the society‚Äôs board constructed a new building for its museum in 2012. It has acquired a significant collection of artifacts and memorabilia through the years. One of the Society‚Äôs primary goals has been the documenting of oral histories from old timers who knew the valley ‚Äúas it used to be‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ when farming and ranching were the primary way of life. Audio and videotapes capture a fast-fading insight into historic Carmel Valley life.


The Society’s barn-like architecture building is just north of the Carmel Valley Road on the southeast corner of the Carmel Valley Village’s Community Park. Information: 831-659-5715

Jesse Tyler Ferguson Planning Summer Wedding

Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson said planning is well underway on his nuptials with Justin Mikita. The couple got engaged last September, and will be getting married this summer.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita

Jesse told reporters that he’s been stressed by the wedding planning, but stopped short of calling himself a “groomzilla.” He also said that he’s been having fun getting everything in order for their laid back ceremony.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a small affair. The guest list will be around 200 people, and both the Obamas and Beyonce have been given open invitations to the day.

The couple have decided to get married in a loft space in New York. They chose the location to show support of New York’s Marriage Equality Act, which will make their marriage legal.

The pair are working with a wedding planner to make their day special. If you’re looking for a venue for your California wedding, check out Holman Ranch. We offer the perfect location for a relaxed or traditional wedding, so get in touch.

LOVE Photo Shoot at Holman Ranch


In honor of Valentine’s Day, we want to share a fantastic photo shoot styled by A Monique Affair. Working with the concept of love, the photos are wonderful and something we’re proud to be a part of.


Love is an emotion of a strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also said to be a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection.

Love is not defined by sexual orientation, it is defined by actions. It is often that we see ‚Äúlove‚ÄĚ defined as male and female on wedding blogs, and this simply needs to change.


I selected to feature real couple and the stars of Bay Area Wives, Mala ‚ÄúShorty‚ÄĚ and Mia Drake-Smith.¬† And as you will see in this shoot their love for each other shines through the camera.


The shoot was shot at the gorgeous and scenic Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, California. This swoon-worthy shoot features vintage china, vintage wine decanters, vintage books from Paris, an ombre wedding cake and  ombre floral centerpieces.


It also includes the Soledad Gown from Watters and Watters’ newest collection.


List of collaborators:

  • Shoot Concept & Styling: Chanda Monique Eddens – A Monique Affair
  • Venue:¬†Holman¬†Ranch
  • Photography: Rachel Capil Photography
  • Linen: Napa Valley Linen Rental
  • Vintage China: Le Vintage Tableware Rentals
  • Wedding Cake & Cupcakes: Cakes Made By M.E.
  • D√©cor Items: Chanda Monique Eddens – A Monique Affair‚Äôs: Chloe‚Äôs Closet
  • Floral: Stacey Touson
  • Wedding Gown: ¬†Epiphany Bridal Boutique

Bridal Etiquette And Bridesmaids

Apart from deciding who the man she will marry is to be, choosing who will be the matron of honor and bridesmaids is the next most difficult decision your typical bride has to make. So just how is she supposed to go about it?

Well, according to Bridal etiquette, what she should be doing is working out who she is currently closest to in her life. And that could mean choosing friends over family (after all, it’s HER big day).


If it’s a case of choosing more than one bridesmaid then it’s better to have two, or four rather than three – so that it looks more equal in the photographs. It’s a good idea too to make sure the matron of honor is good at planning (or teach her to be!) as she’ll be organizing the bridal shower and keeping the other bridesmaids in line on the big day.

Beautiful Wedding of Kristen and Brian at the Holman Ranch

It was yet another beautiful day for a wedding at the Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. The birds were chirping and sun rays filled the air. Kristen and Brian met through a mutual friend almost 4 years ago and decided to sail out on Brian’s sailboat to get to know each other a little better. The boat ride turned into dinner at their now favorite sushi place, Sushi Bistro.

As time went on, Brian realized that he couldn’t live without Kristen being his bride and so popped the questions. Kristen tells their engagement story this way:

“Brian invited me to a ‚Äúwork‚ÄĚ dinner at Top of the Mark on March 1, 2012. When we got there, no one else was there and I thought we were there early‚Ķ until they sat us at a table for two that overlooked the gorgeous city lights at night. I got all excited because I thought he was just surprising me with a dinner there. Then I looked down and saw that there was champagne and chocolate covered strawberries wearing tuxes. I still had no idea a proposal would follow, at all and I said ‚ÄúWhy are the strawberries wearing tuxes? Are we celebrating something?‚ÄĚ Then he got down on one knee and the rest is history. He picked Top of the Mark because he knows I love cityscapes and he got the ring early and couldn‚Äôt wait to give it to me in some other more elaborate way. It was perfect though because the surprise factor was huge. ”

We asked the couple, “If there is one thing you know you’ll never forget about your wedding day, what would it be?” Kristen said, “During dinner, our photographer snuck us down to the gorgeous tree for amazing sunset pictures. ”

This lovely couple shared a mini-moon together in Maui right after the wedding but they say that the real honeymoon doesn’t happen until June 2013 in Italy and Paris.

What an amazing couple you are and we thank you, Kristen and Brian, for allowing us to host your wedding as a kick off to the incredible journey you’ll share together as husband and wife.

How to Give a Great Wedding Speech

We read a lot of articles that give advice on what not to do or include when it comes to the speeches at wedding receptions.

However, we thought it would be much more constructive to give you some great ideas on what to add to your speeches to make sure they go down without a hitch:

  • Details are important.¬† Include those special moments, kind one-liners and special attributes when paying tribute to any member of the wedding party.
  • By all means, aim to make the guests laugh for most of your speech, but it‚Äôs lovely to end on a sentimental note or to say how proud you are of the newly married couple.
  • Use technology within your speech to add some sentiment.¬† You could incorporate a photo montage of all of the important people there on your day or read messages from a Facebook page set up to capture the best wishes of those who couldn‚Äôt be there.
  • Liven up your speech with some relevant anecdotes.¬† They don‚Äôt have to be hilarious ‚Äď so long as they are heartfelt and meant as a tribute.
  • Speak to other people about the moments they have shared with the happy couple or other members of the wedding party.¬† It‚Äôs fine to use other’s stories, and they will help you to keep your speech varied.

Have you delivered or heard any really great wedding speeches?  We’d love to hear about them.