A History on the Land, the Family, and the Homestead

A FARM IS BORN

John Z. Johnson and his wife, Mary Ann Yeager Johnson, purchase 350 acres of fertile Russian River Valley land from the estate of Captain John Cooper and his wife Maria Jerónima de la Encarnación Vallejo, daughter of General Mariano Vallejo, and build a large home, now the Farmhouse Inn, and a farm.

1875

Dominic Giovanetti, Catherine and Joe Bartolomei’s great grandfather, immigrates from Lombardy Italy to Forestville and takes a job as a laborer at the Wohler Ranch, across the street from the Farmhouse Inn, where he learns how to farm hops. Dominic continues to successfully farm hops for 16 years and dreams of someday owning land.

1895

A MAN WITH A DREAM

John Z. Johnson & his wife, Mary Ann Yeager Johnson

THE BIRTH OF OUR HOME RANCH

After years of hop farming, Dominic had saved enough to purchase 84 acres of farm land 3 miles away on present day Giovanetti Road. On the family ranch, he plants apples, prunes, and wine grape. During prohibition Dominic built a still and bootlegged as there was no market for wine grape. The proceeds from this period of time allowed him to build a grand Italianate home on the property where Catherine still lives today. Forestville was a tightknit community and the Giovanetti family knew the Johnson family and their children all attended school together at the Forestville Elementary School.

1911

Italian laborers, Wohler Ranch Hop and Kiln Crew, in the early 1900s Evelyn Giovanetti Bartolomei and her family pose in front of vineyards at the family ranch. Catherine and Joe’s father, Lee, is seen on the bottom right

LIFE IN OUR ITALIAN FARM

Our family homestead thrives, a place we've always simply called "the Ranch", was a Haven for friends and family, a hub where relatives from all over Northern California would gather every weekend, often 60 strong, and proprietors Kate and Dominic would love them and feed them. Catherine and I grew up spending our weekends here at the Ranch, with our great grandmother and our grandmother cooking and feeding family and friends.

1940S

1940

Idea & Perseverance

NO LONGER A WORKING FARM

The farmland is sold off and the outbuildings were converted to rental cabins and the Johnson’s homestead property became the Mirabel Horse Ranch.

1950s

In response to the closure of Wohler Beach and the newfound popularity of the area, the property becomes the Russian River Lodge, the first gay resort on the Russian River. Just across from the Wohler Road turn-off, on River Road, stood a dilapidated old farmhouse, with cabins and a pool, that had served as a B&B in the earlier glory days of the Russian River. The new owners slapped on a few coats of paint, scrubbed out the pool, and the areas first gay resort was in business.

1976