Madden Studio Blog

Getting Away Sonoma Style
August 19, 2011, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Having a 1 year-old makes getting away a little more difficult these days, but I was delighted when I was recently invited to visit Moon Mountain Retreat in lovely Sonoma CA, a fabulous vacation rental owned by Dan and Karen Duggan. The nearly 200 acre property is at the top of Moon Mountain Road and overlooks the vineyard-speckled valley below.

Main House with Valley Below

Even before getting to the property, we were enchanted by the drive up Moon Mountain Road, where the sense that one is really “getting away” increases with each gentle turn.

Section of Moon Mountain Road

A View on Moon Mountain Road

While the main house offers a more capacious as well as luxurious accomodations, Leah and I stayed at the charmingly low key “Vineyard View Cottage”, where our son’s 5am lung exercises would only be heard by the deer and birds.  The cottage had everything we needed and  its “shabby chic” interior was a perfect complement to its secluded hillside setting.

Porch of the Vineyard View Cottage

One of the benefits of waking at 5am is getting to see the morning fog blanketing the vineyards below…

Fog in the Valley

I was fortunate enough to get out and walk our first morning there and had a nearly mystical experience as the fog, filtering through the trees, was illuminated by the early morning light.  As if the sight was not enough, I could actually taste the dewy fragrance of the morning taking life.

Light and Fog

Of course, eventually the fog vanishes to reveal verdant hillsides below and the blue skies above. Although there are plenty of world-class vineyards and restaurants to explore nearby; most days, we would savor the joys of simple meals.  Having brought along some peaches, apples and grapes, we would snack on these while enjoying a variety of cheeses from the Marin French Cheese company (Costco, yes Costco, features a lovely four-pack sampler from this Petaluma CA based company).   In fact if you haven’t yet put camembert cheese into scrambled eggs, I highly recommend it.

While Leah and I did venture out to some of the nearby vineyards (B.R Cohn and Kunde) as well as take Eliot on a late afternoon outing to “The Girl and the Fig” in Sonoma (4.5 out of 5 sippy-cups) we never felt like we “had” to go anywhere.

Eliot captivated by the fan at "The Girl and the Fig"...see it really is the simple things

With a pool to enjoy, hiking trails on old mining roads, a hot-tub and a porch with spectacular views, there is no sense that you need to get anywhere else.  In fact, if you can’t manage to enjoy yourself in such surroundings, then enjoyment just may not be your thing.

Chairs overlooking the Valley

Besides the spectacular views, Moon Mountain Retreat has its own private Redwood Grove which is accessible via the hiking trails that follow an old road that once connected Sonoma to Napa Valley.

Redwood Grove

Looking up at the Redwoods Above

The Redwood Grove has a seasonal stream that runs through it and can provide a respite from the mid-day heat.  The trail to the grove features some stunning views of the valley, but it also has an old road roller machine that is a fascinating piece of history, a real industrial beauty.  I actually suggested to Dan that he consider making it into a more prominent sculptural object by placing it closer to the main residence but there is something romantic about just happening upon it out on a somewhat forgotten trail.  The bullet holes that riddle it remind one of the real “Wild West” although I am told that those were actually attributable to kids who in years past would use it for target practice.

An Old Road Making Machine Sits Aside the Trail

Road Roller

Road Roller Detail

Another view from the hiking trail

What stands out to me regarding our stay is the absolute tranquility and privacy of Moon Mountain Retreat and the deliciously rustic charm of the “Vineyard View Cottage.”  Even the approach to the cottage was surrounded by lavender plants that were alive with the gentle sound of diligent honey bees.

Honey Bee and Lavender

Anyway, although I don’t customarily write reviews of lodging on my blog, the fact is that Moon Mountain Retreat is too good not be shared…it is a place were one is reminded how fulfilling it can be to slow down and savor the simplest of things, to eat, to drink and to find joy in sharing with others the beauty that surrounds us.

Pear tree with lavender


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great stuff! This makes me want to go there and hang out! Thanks for the inspiration!
Karen Dippel

Comment by Karen Dippel

Gorgeous place and stunning photography. Looks like I need to go there to make some paintings!

Comment by Janet Arline Barker

I just had a mini vacation looking at this blog!!
You really captured the place with your prose and photos. Looks like a great place for painting as well. I can see why you loved it so.

Comment by Gail Ragains

Brian, thanks for sharing your photos…they’re like paintings! I love the last one. Nancee

Comment by growinggraphicsNancee

Hi there – we, too, stayed for a week at Moon Mountain…just last month for a 50th birthday celebration. Finding your blog just prior to the trip got us pumped up and it did not disappoint. Here are my sonoma shots, fyi (sorry so many)

tasting room
Comment by Donna

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