September 13, 2020

Autumn’s in The Air

It’s been far too long since I’ve sat down and written a blog. It’s not from lack of trying, I keep thinking next week will be quieter and I’ll have plenty of time to be creative and come up with interesting stories to share. I’ve literally started writing this 20 times only to be pulled away.  It’s the story of my life these days… But the reality is, this summer really has been nuts!

We reopened Farmhouse on June 18th to a post COVID world implementing a whole slew of upgraded cleaning and safety protocols.  We were ready to welcome guests; my team was well trained and ready to serve. With no historical perspective on what reopening in the midst of a pandemic would look like, we expected a soft relaunch and a quiet summer. However, we were completely caught off guard by the number of people who desperately wanted to travel.  But moreover, travel somewhere where they felt safe, where they felt they could enjoy the destination without compromising their own health and wellbeing. Little did we realize that Farmhouse Inn, just 25 rooms on 10 acres of land, was a perfect refuge. Not only for our California drive market but also out-of-state travelers looking for beautiful places to visit domestically that might make them forget about their canceled trips to Italy and France and beyond. Our Sonoma Wineries, 500+ strong, stepped up their game pivoting to offer socially distanced outdoor tastings and our restaurants (Farmhouse included) moved to all outdoor dining. Honestly, I’m so proud of our destination and our purveyors, many of whom are like family to me, for staring adversity down and figuring out how to deliver amazing experiences through these difficult times.

Looking to our winery partners and assessing the needs of our guests, we modified our programing to really deliver an experience that today’s traveler is looking for. As such, we’ve beefed up our weekly activities to include guided hikes and complimentary yoga – outdoor activities have never been more popular and Sonoma certainly has an abundance of natural assets! Our daily wine tastings, always a hit, are now even more immersive and provide an ideal venue for cultivating community while getting to know winery partners and fellow guests alike. Never have these wine hours been more popular; often lasting for 2+ hours because no one wants to leave. I’m guilty myself of attending almost daily and not as a “work obligation” but rather an opportunity to have meaningful conversations with interesting people, something I desperately missed during all our months of shelter in place. Dinner service, now offered only at our outdoor courtyard, has been a successful transition.

The space, beautifully landscaped with glowing lanterns and twinkling lights, is a respite from real-world anxieties, and Chef Litke’s menu shines with fresh seasonal fare still sourced for our local farmers.  Never has our little restaurant felt so magical!

So yes, we’ve made some changes and we’ve had some stressful days and we are still trying to figure out how to navigate this ever-changing landscape. But I’m so proud of this amazing team of mine – our Farmhouse family – for stepping up in such a big way. When guests leave and tell me they can’t wait to come back, that we’ve exceeded their expectations, that they didn’t realize how desperately they needed a getaway and our little Farmhouse provided exactly what they needed, all the hard work, the long days, the stress… is forgotten and my heart swells with pride. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, I can’t worry about that, we’re just doing the best we can today, taking it one day at a time.

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