Did your plans for a summer vacation in Europe not pan out? Well, you can console yourself this fall by heading north on the 101 to Westlake Village. That's where you'll find The Stonehaus, a combo coffeehouse and winery with a European flair, which is now under construction on the grounds of the Westlake Village Inn.
"You can come and visit the property and feel like you're in Tuscany," says Chris Cuilty, chief operating officer for the 141-room boutique hotel, located on 17-acres, lushly landscaped with a private lake and rose-covered arbors. Also on the property is Bogies Lounge and the restaurant Mediterraneo.
The new structure, by Aarons Architects of Westlake Village, is designed to evoke a charming Italian country house. A 15 by 30-foot waterfall is nearby, a feature sure to lure in couples looking for a romantic wedding spot. (The hotel already is the venue for about 250 weddings a year.)
When the idea of creating a winery was first discussed, inn owner John Notter proposed creating a vineyard on the hotel grounds. "That's how the whole concept started," says Cuilty.
One acre of the property is now used to grow Cabernet, Cabernet Franc and Syrah grapes. The grapes are expected to generate about 200 cases a year, with
Pacific Ridge Vineyards making the wine. (The rest of the wine will come from around the globe.)
Showing how little we know about growing grapes, we wondered how the fruit has fared in the intense Southern California summer heat. Cuilty assured us: "The grape stock was designed for this climate. They're doing very well in the heat." (We're now thinking of replacing our formerly-green lawn with grapes.)
The Westlake Village Inn is located adjacent to residential neighborhoods. Cuilty describes the property as "pedestrian friendly," with pathways weaving into the vineyard. He hopes people will pop in throughout the day, starting in the morning, when The Stonehaus will function as a coffee house, with private-label coffees, teas, homemade pastries and free internet access. In the afternoon and evenings, the building will transition into a wine tasting room.
Also in the works, a wine membership program and wine tasting classes, where it's likely students will never complain about the homework.
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Construction is expected to be completed mid-September. The Stonehaus is going to have what Cuilty calls a "soft opening," without much hoopla.
"We don't want to open up with a lot of fanfare," he says. "We just want people to come in and have a great experience."
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