Letters from Lodi
An insightful and objective look at viticulture and winemaking from the Lodi
Appellation and the growers and vintners behind these crafts. Told from the
perspective of multi-award winning wine journalist, Randy Caparoso.
Bare Ranch is a quiet, peaceful step back in time
Behind a cluster of towering pines, past a botanical garden and along a gravel path stands a beautiful link to Lodi’s past.
The Bare Ranch mansion exudes opulence from a foregone era.
Sturdy and masculine, the two-story Craftsman style home is accented by clinging vines and a bubbling fountain surrounded by plants and flowers. Steps to a raised porch lead to wooden-framed glass doors at the main entrance. Once inside, you are transported back in time. Hard-wood floors thump and creak with every step, ornate lighting fixtures hang from the ceilings and walls, and natural light beams into the sun room inviting visitors to explore.
Thoughts of what might have been flood the mind when presented with such a scene. Perhaps members of the Bare family sat in plush chairs in the main room after the evening supper, and recounted the day’s events beside the fireplace before playing a game of pocketless billiards in the game room.
“It takes you back,” said Lori Phillips, who runs Bare Ranch. “It’s very, very peaceful.”
The mansion is the center jewel of the 180-acre Bare Ranch, a working vineyard at the corner of Woodbridge and Davis roads in Lodi. The fruit goes into Michael David Winery’s portfolio and to some of their clients. The home is surrounded by trellised zinfandel vines and small lots of chardonnay and petit sirah, and impeccably manicured grounds. Inside are seven bedrooms, six bathrooms and several large closets which were needed at the time to accommodate the size and grandeur of ladies’ gowns.
Near the sun room downstairs is the Pheasant Room, so-named because of its wallpaper, which is believed to be as old as the home itself.
The Phillips Family, owners of Michael David Winery, purchased the property from the Bare family in 2007 and has since renovated the home and grounds, keeping it as true as possible to its original condition. The history of the mansion is somewhat uncertain.
“We believe it’s from 1903. We don’t have any true architectural data,” said Phillips, whose husband, Kevin Phillips, is a grower for Phillips Farms and a winemaker for Michael David Winery, which was named Winery of the Year at the 2016 Unified Symposium. “We believe it’s from 1903, which the Boyce family would have built.”
The Bare family might have purchased the property from the Boyce family in 1916 or 1918. The Bare family operated a fruit packing operation and winery, Rancho Del Oso, until the 1950s. Whether the Bare family altered the design or expanded the home isn’t certain, either. But what is certain is the home is gorgeous, and filled with antiques from Kentucky and Lodi.
The Phillips host business associates and other guests in the mansion, and weddings and special events are held on the grounds, which are resplendent with ponds and rocks, shrubs, a swimming pool, California and scrub oaks, and fruit and palm trees.
Phillips Farms recently acquired 40 acres of vineyards and a home adjacent to the Bare Ranch property, which appropriately sits across the street diagonally from the Phillips' original family home.
The Bare Ranch mansion offers a prime example of Lodi's heritage, and provides a glimpse into how life used to be.
Welcome to Bob's Blog, a fun look at the people and places behind Lodi's food and wine scene. For story ideas and comments, contact Bob Highfill, Marketing and Communications Manager with the Lodi Winegrape Commission, at BHighfill@LodiWine.com. Follow on Twitter @Lodi_Wine and @BobHighfill; Instagram @Lodi_Wine and Facebook.com/LodiWine.