Summer’s bright mid-day rays shine through the green rows of an expansive pear orchard, reaching towards Mt. Konocti. Directly behind, acres of grapevines stretch towards Kelseyville. Far above in the oak trees, two pairs of curious eyes peer out from their residential barn owl home as if curious to see who we are and what we’re doing far below.
“It was the trees. That’s what we first fell in love with when we saw the property.” Christie White, co-owner of Finca Castelero, motions upward with her arms, showing us the owl house they built, as we walk towards the barn. It’s obvious how one would fall in love with the oaks expanding far above the Airbnb cottages, not only bringing shade but that charm that comes with larger-than-life oak trees. Oh, the stories I could tell and the stories still to be shared, they seem to say. It’s a short walk to the barn, leaving the shade and stories behind, but only for a moment. This is paradise, and all are guests here.
“At first, we thought about converting the barn into our home, but it didn’t make sense when we thought about the work that would go into it. So I’m glad we left it just the way it is.” Christie smiles, looking towards the collection of furniture, table, and chairs, making up an informal sitting area. Just about anything can be repurposed at Finca Castelero. Vintage, new, restored, or remade makes the place feel like a home away from home.
Anything but books, that is. “Do you see all the toys I have collected?” Luis Castelero, co-owner of Finca Castelero, says. Old metal firetrucks, dump trucks, and airplanes purposefully scatter across the property, arranged in bookshelves instead of books. “When I was a child, I was dyslexic. Instead of getting toys, I always got books.” A broad smile comes across his face as he looks at his firetruck. “Now, I only buy toys. No books.”
Come as you are and stay for a while, the whole place says. You can relax here. Across the way, a gravel seating area opens into the outdoor option overlooking the pear orchard. Christie makes her way through a door to the kitchen. Luis waits for us to catch up, distracted by the view of the orchard. He gestures, not rushing, only pausing for a moment before making his way inside the kitchen area.
“This is where we used to do all of our cooking when we first bought the property,” Christie remembers fondly. “In fact, I still came out here to cook when we first moved in because I knew where everything was!” She laughs. The common area has stories of its own. Every pear harvest, meals were cooked in this kitchen, and the extra hands stayed in the now converted Airbnb. Now the kitchen welcomes guests. Just around the corner is another sitting area and a small dining room table for informal meals and gatherings. An expansive bathroom sits just off the common room. “It’s first come, first serve,” Christie explains. “Whoever checks in first gets this bathroom,” she smiles.
“Now let me show you our rooms,” Christine gestures eagerly towards the nearest Airbnb and strides off, her long pants swinging with her steps. She opens the door; it’s a welcoming space for rest or work and begs to make the most of the outdoor area before calling it a night. The second Airbnb is large enough for a family or friends with three beds and a gathering table.
“You know, we do have weddings, and this room is usually set aside for the bride and wedding party; it’s the perfect space for getting ready,” Christine says fondly. It doesn’t take much imagination to see a beautiful wedding here. I can see it in my mind’s eye: Guests smiling at the reception under the giant oaks, laughing on the lit patio, and dancing just a few steps away from the rooms.
“Now it’s time for lunch,” Christine says. Luis holds the door to their home open for us with a kindly, patient gesture, and we step out of the sun and into the air-conditioned home. A broad table set for four awaits, set with two small dishes of truffle almonds and empty wine glasses, which Luis quickly fills. We laugh and enjoy a lunch casual style, where the food is enjoyed, but the conversation is the main dish.
But time is not on our side, and lunch ends too quickly. Luis opens the door for us one last time, and we step outside into the late afternoon. Two owls watch us from the oak tree, their round eyes shining in their nest.
To book an Airbnb at Finca Castelero, visit their website.