Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Archive for tag: Bed and breakfast

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Rustridge Winery & Ranch is the getaway from getaways as one of their guests called it. Rustridge is a vineyard, winery, thoroughbred racehorse ranch and a bed and breakfast. Just 20 minutes from Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail, the once large racehorse ranch is now a combination of the owners, Jim and Susan’s, two passions wine and horses. They continue to breed and race thoroughbreds and have over 20 years of experience producing award winning wine.

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Cooler nights and higher elevation allow for a later harvest than most grapes in Napa Valley which gives the distinct quality and flavor you’ll have to try and enjoy for yourself!

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Rustridge Ranch & Winery is known for their organically grown grapes and award winning wine. They offer a variety of wines through their Rustridge, Racehorse and Library selections including Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. The Rustridge wines are their current barrel selected premium wines that bring out the best elements of the Chiles Valley. Their Racehorse selection includes their everyday wines. The Racehorse Red is a blend of Zinfandel and Carbenet and the white is a Chardonnay with a touch of oak. A collection of both Rustridge and Racehorse wines make up their aged Library wines.  More information on their selections, wine purchases and Rustridge Wine Club memberships can be found at their website (

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In order to exercise the young horses they run them through the vineyard aisles. Fifty acres stretching down the valley make for a great run. For strength, they run the horses up and down the steep hills that ring their valley.

Visits & Tastings

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When visiting the ranch, make sure you take advantage of the wine tasting, property tour and the many other activities they have to offer. The tastings are by appointment so make sure you plan ahead of time and reserve a spot (Schedule Your Tastings). If you’d like, you can learn about breeding and training horses or the process of growing grapes and making wine. Another option is to take a hike through the vineyard and the surrounding hills and enjoy beautiful views and bird watching or bring a bottle of wine, set up a picnic and just relax.

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B & B Farm Stay

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway you’ve found it. The Rustridge Bed & Breakfast offers a sunlit breakfast room with a ranch-style breakfast to start off the day right. Tennis, hiking, barbequing and other fun farm activities are available throughout the day. Take the edge off lounging in the sun by the pool or relaxing in the eucalyptus sauna. Then gather in the country kitchen for an evening of Rustridge wine sampling and hors d’oeuvres.

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The B & B offers several options for overnight stays including bedrooms with comfortable queen size featherbeds, private bathrooms, adjoining rooms, beautiful views and direct access to the pool and sauna. For more information and availability look at their options here (Rustridge Bed & Breakfast).

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It’s hard to beat a nice warm and cozy fireplace in the bedroom, a private deck looking out over some amazing views and access to a relaxing sauna.  Add a bottle of wine and you’ll think you’ve found paradise.

Your getaway from getaways is here at Rustridge Ranch and Winery. For more information on the ranch and booking information here is a link to their Farm Stay profile.

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Photo Credit: Rustride Ranch & Winery

Wilson Ranches RetreatWilson Ranches Retreat is our featured ranch stay of the month! The ranch is a 9,000 acre cattle ranch in Fossil, Oregon, with plenty of opportunity for scenic horseback rides and cattle roundups, hiking, and scouring for prehistoric fossils. The Wilson Family has deep roots in the area and a fascinating story. Here's our interview with Nancy Wilson:

1.     The Wilson Family came to ranch in the Oregon Territories by traveling the Oregon Trail back in the 1800s. Do you know much about their trek and why they made it?

Phil and Nancy's families homesteaded in Wheeler and Gilliam Counties in the 1870's.  They travelled on the Oregon Trail in the early 1850's to the Willamette Valley before coming to North Central Oregon.

2.     What made you want to continue your families' ranching tradition?

Love of the land and Phil didn't have enough sense to leave.  Phil came home to the ranch about-history-right-side-bottom-image
after graduation from college.  This is a great life and the Blessings are many!

3.     How has ranching changed over the 150+ years your family has been ranching?

Wilson Ranches has gone from the horse-drawn age to the combustion mechanical age to the computer age.  The only aspect of ranching that has been little affected is the cattle operation.  The LE brand has been in the family for four generations.

4.     You follow a "green-friendly, twice-over" grazing program. Could you tell us how this works?

Wilson Ranches follows a "green-friendly, twice over" grazing program to increase grass production.  Each pasture is grazed, rested, and grazed again in a rotational system with multiple pastures.  Wilson Ranches is managing the resources of the ranch for future generations.

5.     What kind of experience does your ranch offer guests?

The deck at Wilson Ranches Retreat is a great place to watch the cattle or deer grazing.  The Retreat is shaded by trees, which are often alive with a variety of birds as this is a songbird migratory route.  This incredible secluded scenic area with spectacular sunsets and brilliant star-studded nights will captivate you.

welcome-right-side-bottom-imageOur guests enjoy horseback riding in a geologically and historically rich area of Wheeler County, or a quiet hike to view the wildlife and diverse plant life on Wilson Ranches.  Guests are welcome to help move cattle from mid-spring to late fall.  A 4-Wheel Drive Sunset Tour is also available.  This tour is approximately five hours and will give you a magnificent view of the Cascade Mountain Range (Three Sisters to Mt. Rainer).

6.    What do people see and do while there?

Wilson Ranches Retreat is a great place to headquarter your exploration of the Clarno, Sheep Rock and Painted Hills Units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  It has the richest find of prehistoric fossils in the world.  Public fossil digging is available behind Wheeler High School in the town of Fossil.  The John Day River offers world-class small mouth bass fishing and river rafting trips.

7.     Could you describe the landscape, flora, and fauna around your ranch?

Wilson Ranches is a diverse area with an extreme mixture of geologies with formations from 50 million years ago to the present time.  Rolling hills to deep basalt canyons, high lava ridges and buttes with amazing views of the Cascade and Blue Mountain Ranges.  The landscape is covered with wild flowers in the spring and early summer.

8.    What's the climate like? about-main-top-image

The climate is semi-arid with an annual average rainfall from 12 to 16 inches per year.  Temperatures in the winter are usually mild but can go as low as 15 degrees below zero for short  periods of time.  Summer temperatures vary from 70 to 100 degrees.

9.     What's on your breakfast menu?

Breakfast is served family style each morning at 8:00 am with the Wilson Family sharing their experience of life on the ranch and interesting and entertaining stories by Phil.  The breakfast menu includes bacon (sausage, ham or beef little smokies), farm fresh eggs, biscuits (blueberry muffins, coffee cake or German pancakes), fruit, and Bob's Red Mill oatmeal with all the fixin's (pecans, brown sugar, raisins and craisins).


For more information on Wilson Ranches Retreat, visit their Farm Stay U.S. listing and their website. All photos on this blog are courtesy Wilson Ranches Retreat.

This month, Farm Stay U.S. is proud to feature Splendor Farms, a B&B, trail-riding facility, and licensed Dachshund kennel in Bush, Louisiana, one hour outside of New Orleans. We recently interviewed owner Kelly Bensabat and are excited to share her story. For more details and to plan a stay, check out the Farm Stay U.S. Splendor Farms listing. Thanks to Carl Bordelon Photography for the use of the photos below.

1. Could you tell us about the history of your farm?

splendor-farms-ridingThrough hard work and faith in my dreams, Splendor Farms evolved from a family home with a horse into the bed and breakfast and trail riding facility we have today. My husband, an attorney, and I, an insurance defense paralegal for over 20 years, moved here in 1988 and raised our two children here, but they didn't really live a farm life then other than a garden and woods to play in. About 12 years ago, I decided to breed my mare and build a barn for her. When the kids left for college, I bought my first dachshund, then another, and another, and then started showing and breeding. I was tiring of the legal world and decided I wanted to show my dogs full time, give riding lessons, and board horses.

Then Hurricane Katrina came and with all the misery it brought, including my husband's heart surgery three weeks after the hurricane. I decided life was too short -- the kids had graduated from college by then and I had three empty rooms, so I decided to open a bed and breakfast, but not the usual kind with antiques and wine/cheese at check in. I wanted to be pet and kid friendly, offering a farm environment with fishing and swimming, and the best part, trail rides!  Today we have a bed and breakfast, trail riding on over 1000 acres, and a licensed dachshund kennel.

meet-your-neighborsI am in my 5th year of summer horse/farm camps and now do middle of the month camps as well; for those monthly camps I work with the parents so the camps are an incentive to make good grades; I only let girls attend if they are making As and Bs in school, which has helped some girls who were struggling academically to turn around their grades. The summer camps host 8-10 campers at a time; the campers get to do lots of riding, learn to cook, do chores, pick veggies, fish, and compete in a rodeo on Fridays.

My next endeavor will be to build a couple of small one-room camps, with baths and full kitchens, on the 2.5 acres across from our home overlooking the creek.  These will be rented out for weekend stays, with day passes for trail rides, fishing, and swimming available for the guests. They will be so private that they will also be great "get away from it all" destinations!

2. Could you tell us about your animals?

I have at any time as many as 35 to 45 head of trail horses, boarding horses, rescuedgeese-heronthoroughbreds, andI still have my old barrel mare, Star. She is 26 now and still gets excited when she hears a gate clank, like in the arena. We have several barn cats, so no mice! We have a couple of stocked ponds for the guest to fish, on a catch & release basis. We have chickens for eggs, guineas, pheasants, & turkeys for gumbos, and a pot-bellied pig, along with milk goats and sheep. If I could get my nannies to have girls instead of boys, we could make goat cheese.

3. Why did you choose to breed and raise dachshunds?

Dachshunds (long haired) are gorgeous dogs, very smart and funny. They are small for your lap, but big with loyalty. I love all hounds, but Dachshunds' different shape and almost-shaped eyes are too hard to resist. The first time I saw a Dachshund, I was in a stationary store, and when I took a seat, the red pillow next to me moved and I jumped! I looked down and saw these gorgeous brown eyes and long flowing red coat. I didn't even know what kind of dog it was until the owner told me. Then, a week later, I was at Louisiana Paralegal Seminar in New Orleans, and during a break I was walking through the hotel lobby and a lady came off the elevator with two long haired black & tans on a double leash. Their gait was just breathtaking for such short legs, and I was hooked. I rescue many dachshunds from animal shelters and breeders. Sometimes they simply show up in my neighborhood!

4.  Do you have a favorite vegetable or fruit, either to grow or to eat?

Strawberries and tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, hands down! We are lucky in Louisiana to be able to grow both in several plantings almost year around. A greenhouse has been a great addition to my food supply. We can start our tomato seeds in December and plant in pots in February and in the ground in early April, for early spring tomatoes in May. Strawberries are wonderful, too. Two plantings a year, and they have more vitamin C than oranges, plus they freeze outstandingly well.

5. What is the setting of your farm like?

Our farm is pastoral, with woods to explore and lots of animals to visit. Our farm is prettier to most guests in the spring and summer when the plants and flowers are out, but fall is my favorite time! We may not have the foliage changes like up in the northeast, but to me Louisiana is beautiful in the fall.  It could also be that after our hot summers, we are charmed by the cooler weather.


Our pool area is very nice and can feel very private, as it's surrounded by hibiscus, but you can be floating in the pool and look out and see beautiful horses grazing 100 feet away. We have herb gardens and raised beds with seasonal veggies to admire and when we have an abundant crop, we are more than happy to let you pick some to take home with you.

6. What do most of your guests do during their stay?

They walk around the farm, get to know the petting zoo animals, pick veggies in high season, take a hike on the horse trails through the 45 acres, trail ride after breakfast, read a book on the patio, swim, fish the stocked ponds, or take a nap in a hammock (my favorite when I have time!)  They also get to choose what they are going to have for breakfast the next morning.  Every guest gets a menu with four to five items to choose from. No generic breakfast casserole is served in my dining room!

7. Your B&B includes three guest bedrooms - "The Queens' Suite," "La Louisiane," and "Ponderosa." You also offer a furnished guest apartment with six bunk beds. Could you tell us about the décor and your decorating philosophy?

I wanted each bedroom to be different. The Queens' Suite is called that because two la-louisiane
people both think it's their room -- my mother and my best friend. La Louisiane was the name of my favorite restaurant in the French quarter. Lots of French people come to visit us, and they love staying in that room. It's decorated in purple, green, and gold, and full of Louisiana literature and history. Ponderosa features wooden beams, and knotted pine paneled walls, and it opens on screen porch. It is our most rustic room, with a Texas Cowboys and Indians theme since I'm from Texas. The Bunkhouse is our family accommodation; it sleeps up to 10, with bunk beds, and a pullout bed.

My decorating philosophy is really about comfort. I use 1000+ thread count sheets, down comforters, and thick towels. We iron all the sheets. It's luxurious even though you're on a farm. We also offer flat-screen TVs, DVD players and board games. There's so much to do here!

8. Anything more you'd like to add?

splendor-farms-lodgingI am very blessed to be living my dream -- being in the country, surrounded by animals, cooking for people, decorating for the seasons, and having a very wonderful husband and children who support my dream and like my mother-in-law told me, "You have vision!  I am so proud of you!"  I am proud of me, too, and of Splendor Farms!

stargazerThough alpacas don't have a long history in the United States, according to Brian Leach, who directs marketing at Sunset Hills Farm Alpacas, alpaca farmers are a tightly knit -- and quickly growing -- community. There is a lot of enthusiasm and energy surrounding alpacas, and to many of the people who dedicate their time to raising them, alpacas are not just a business but also a hobby and a passion. As Brian Leach explains, alpacas are an eco-friendly choice of livestock, since they clip the turf like a lawnmower, providing gentle pasture management. Alpaca fleece is also hypo-allergenic and extraordinarily soft, and alpacas tend to have sweet personalities and gentle dispositions.

Sunset Hills Farm sits on 47 rolling acres in Western Pennsylvania, 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh, and a few hours south of Lake Erie and Niagara Falls. With a herd of 100 Accoyo and Peruvian alpacas, by U.S. standards Sunset Hills is considered a large alpaca farm. The farm was founded in 1997 by Dr. David and Laurye Feller, who take tremendous pride in their award-winning alpaca herd. As Mr. Leach tells me, "We're a farm that produces champions; real stars have a permanent home here."

stargazer-livingSunset Hills Farm has become more diverse and dynamic as it has grown - beyond specializing in breeding and selling champion alpacas, the farm also offers an onsite alpaca boutique called Alpaca de Moda, a B&B with two distinct properties, the Sunrise and the Stargazer, and property rentals for special events, including weddings. At Alpaca de Moda, the farm sells its own luxurious, multi-award winning alpaca yarn and locally hand-knit sweaters, hats, and gloves plus imported alpaca garments.

All kinds of guests come for the B&B. Some are interested in raising alpacas themselves (and some will be by the time they leave!), while others are traditional vacationers simply looking for a nice place to stay while they enjoy the golf courses, festivals, hiking, biking, orchards, and farmers markets of the surrounding area. For those interested in raising alpacas, guests have the option of shadowing the farm manager, and helping with chores that may include feedings, grooming, and shearing the alpacas. Guests are also welcome to collect eggs from the farm's small flock of a dozen chickens.

sunrise-cabing-porchGuests choose between two properties, the Sunrise, a traditional three-bedroom, two bath log cabin, or the Stargazer, a two-story, two-bedroom, two bath apartment built into the alpaca barn. Rates for the B&B start at $99/night. Brian stresses the Stargazer's unique appeal: from the inside, it looks like country cottage while from the outside it's an old-fashioned barn. The Stargazer's windows also look directly out onto the alpaca habitat, and toward the surrounding hills and valleys. The Stargazer close in winter, while the Sunset is available for year round stays. Delicious breakfast options might include a frittata or quiche, including ingredients from the garden, or fresh baked goods from local bakeries or the farm kitchen.

For more information about Sunset Hills Farm, including contact information, check out the listings for the Stargazer and the Sunrise on Farm Stay U.S.