Q: Tell us a bit about the Seven-Up Guest Ranch.
A: We like to think of the ranch as the best-kept secret in Fair Play! It’s a 150-year-old working ranch located down the road from Skinner Vineyards. We offer rustic bed and breakfast lodging and farm stays for guests and charitable organizations. The Seven-Up Guest Ranch has six unique guest rooms, each with a covered porch, fridge, microwave, air conditioning, and hot country-style breakfast. All of our rooms are pet-friendly, too.
The ranch has quite a history, one that we’re still discovering. We know from the Indian Grinding Rocks and Spanish Springs on the property that there was a Native American presence long before it became a ranch. The grinding rocks are giant granite boulders that were used as grinding mills.
One legend is that there was a famous outlaw, Joaquin Murrieta, known as the Robin Hood of El Dorado. During the Gold Rush, there was a conflict between the mine owners and workers, and at one point, Murrieta witnessed the murder of his wife and two of his brothers by the barons who owned the gold. He went into hiding, supposedly here at the ranch. The story goes that Murrietta would rob the rich and bury it all around, so there’s speculation there’s treasure hidden here.
In the 1800s, the ranch was owned by the Poole brothers, and one of them participated in a stagecoach robbery and was later hung in Placerville. There’s also a rumor that the ranch was a bordello at one point!
Rowena Sutter was at one time an owner of the Ranch. She sold it to Virgil Langston, a Southern California developer, who turned it into a guest ranch. He felt a connection to the land, just as we do. We reached out to him after we’d purchased it and invited him here. He’d not been back to the ranch since he’d sold it since it broke his heart to do so. And it wasn’t just him – his granddaughter, who’d spent summers here growing up, celebrated her fortieth birthday here.
Our location to Fair Play wineries and charming Sierra foothills towns is undoubtedly a draw for many of our guests. But more than that, the ranch is just a magical place for so many people. The history, the location, the relaxed atmosphere. The ranch conforms to our guests’ spirits. Most people leave feeling recharged.
Q: What made you decide to open a Bed and Breakfast in Fair Play?
A: My husband and I were living in Napa and North Carolina. He and my son Nick always wanted family land. Nick is in the vineyard business, with a lot of experience working in Napa. I thought they were looking for vineyards, but I didn’t know that part! We looked around for a year, the three of us, and the moment we drove onto this property, I knew this was it.
We purchased the Seven-Up Guest Ranch thinking we’d host a camp for disturbed kids since I was a special ed teacher and use it to host family and friends. We have a strong sense of community and donate to local charities when we are able.
So that was in March, and then in April, unfortunately, my husband was diagnosed with fast-acting cancer. He died eight weeks later. We had no intention of opening the ranch to the public again (It had been a bed and breakfast before we bought it).
But, a week before my husband died, he looked at my son and me and said, “I think you ought to open it up as a bed and breakfast.” My son was already very well employed in Napa, so my husband asked him to quit his job and move to Fair Play. To honor his wishes, that’s what we did. It was a big undertaking. There were so many things that had to be redone, and we weren’t sure what was going to happen, but we just went with it and let the road rise up to meet us.
The first year was tough, but everything ended up turning out great. Our first visitors were the Skinner family, our neighbors, and it just grew from there for the first three years. Nick and I took turns managing; then we were lucky to get Janet in here as the property manager.
Q: What does a perfect weekend in Fair Play/El Dorado County look like?
A: We’re located in the heart of the Fair Play AVA, an appellation unique for its elevation that results in flavorful wines, so exploring wineries like Skinner, Cedarville, Charles B. Mitchell, Element 79, Mediterranean, and more is easy because they’re so close.
The ranch is also a lovely place to relax and explore. While there are no official hiking trails, you can walk up to the Indian Grinding Rocks and Spanish Springs and visit Grandma Sutter’s home. You’ll also find plenty of bird life. We’ve had guests identify 25 different types of birds!
We like to think of the Seven-Up Guest Ranch as a second home where you have no responsibilities. It’s a sanctuary, and what you tell your innkeeper stays with your innkeeper!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your signature dish.
A: Grandma Rossetti’s Blueberry Muffins are a guest favorite at the ranch. Grammy Rossetti was my husband’s wonderful mother. She would get up before everyone to bake hot fresh pastries and was famous for her muffins. At the Ranch we always have a homemade pastry or muffin for our guests’ breakfasts.
Grandma Rossetti’s Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1/2 cup margarine or Crisco, melted and cooled
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup milk
3 t. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups blueberries
Nutmeg and sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin or use cupcake liners.
Sift together dry ingredients. Make well in the center. Combine wet ingredients and stir into dry. Add blueberries, mix to combine. Optional: sprinkle a little nutmeg/sugar on top before baking for extra yumminess!
Pour into the prepared tin, bake for 25 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before removing from tin.
Learn more about the Seven-Up Guest Ranch.