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Monday, November 17, 2008

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Spending a night at Case Ranch Inn is like turning into a fruit worm imbedded into a sweet summer plum. You rest in luxury and softness, hugged by the warm, sun-drenched walls made of pure sugar. You feast on a tree-ripe fruit, and feel safe and happy. A fantasy? At Case Ranch, the reality comes very close. A renovated Victorian farmhouse built around 1894 and now painted turquoise blue is furnished with period pieces and knick-knacks, gathered from family and friends’ attics and local estate sales. Entering the inn is like coming back to a family home [a century ago], all primped and ready for dear guests. If it weren’t for a free Wi-Fi-offering laptop on a desk, the parlor would have looked like your next stop in time travel. Lovingly and painstakingly restored by Allan Tilton, a traffic engineer, and Diana Van Ry, a judicial assistant for Sonoma County Superior Court during their full-time working years, the house has three bedrooms, named after the owners’ daughters—Kathleen, Korinna, and Elizabeth. Each room has a bonboniere feel with its floral wallpaper, original windowpanes with thick wavy glass, and cozy dollhouse layout, but is equipped with all the modern conveniences, plush robes, and a luxury bed with all-cotton linens. A private cottage in a garden has a kitchenette for additional privacy. A two-acre garden with rose bushes, a gazebo, a spa, and a fountain; a fruit orchard, a kitchen garden, and a small vineyard surround the house. The land has been designated a registered National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat. In 2003 and 2006 solar power systems were added to Case Ranch Inn, which was recently certified eco-green. After a relaxing night’s sleep on a pillow-top mattress, I woke up and looked out the window. In an unbelievably quiet country morning, flaming-red leaves of an ash tree were seen through the fog, two black dogs were circling a distant neighbor’s yard, and a flock of California quails were crossing the road to the house. I went downstairs—a wide terrace with wicker armchairs invited to sit down, forget the world, and watch squirrels play on a green lawn. For breakfast, our gracious hostess treated us to her orchard’s fresh figs, Belgian waffles with her own raspberry sauce, apple sausages, and strong coffee. Diana cooks her guests’ breakfasts every day, using organic ingredients whenever possible, and providing sustainable and healthy meals. Allan is an avid beer maker, treating the guests to free tasting of his own sophisticated brews. The inn is located in close proximity to the Russian River valley famous wineries, like Korbel and Rodney Strong; Steelhead Beach Regional Park, with fishing, boating, kayaking, and picnic grounds all year round; Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, and Sonoma Coast State Park, where Russian River meets the ocean—what an itinerary for a weekend visit! For an intimate and carefree retreat reserve Case Ranch Inn, 7446 Poplar Drive, Forestville, CA, 95436. Call 877-887-8711 or go to:, or Photography by Yuri Krasov. 1. Diana Van Ry serves homemade breakfast at Case Ranch Inn. 2. Case Ranch Inn. 3. Korbel Champagne Cellars with its garden-like grounds is a short drive away from Case Ranch Inn.


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