Story and photos by Stacy Fisher
Nestled in the fertile foothills andsprawling pastures of Northern California, Anselmo Vineyards covers 2,600 acres of natural reserve. The ranch-style vineyard is located off Highway 44, about eight miles west of the town of Shingletown in Shasta County.
Looking out at the surrounding valley, the farmstead boasts draped grapevines bearing lush, full-flavored fruit. The 15-acre vineyard is acclaimed for its many excellent wines, including cabernet sauvignon, and merlot.
In addition to a four-star restaurant where patrons can enjoy fine dining, the estate includes a pavilion for events, parties, and weddings, along with hosting an array of activities including hiking, fishing, and hunting opportunities. “There are no vineyards that comes close to what Anselmo offers in accommodations and recreational activities,” remarks Branch General Manager Doyle Besecker.
The company hosts wedding parties with optional catering for up to 225 people, with a seating capacity of about 150 inside the reception building.
Doyle says they raise approximately a hundred head of cattle including a number of sheep that are free range, never caged. The animals are grain fed for the freshest meat that’s served in their restaurant. They also grow 60 percent of their produce on-site as well, “and of course we cultivate the grapes that go into our award-winning Anselmo Vineyard wines.”
In addition to fly-fishing in a mile and half of private waters feeding three lakes stocked with rainbow trout, the setting offers hunting packages for deer, waterfowl, turkeys, pigs, native valley quail, chukar partridge and bobwhite quail. They also have four different cottages that are available for rental to hunters, or any guests who choose to stay a few days to experience a selection of activities.
On the day that I visited the location, I wanted to experience the rancho-style layout of the site myself before the hunt commenced, so after accompanying Doyle in a short tour around the estate, he loaded up the hunting dogs in cages secured to the back of an extended golf cart, and off we trolled through rolling hills and onward to an area where we met up with a couple of his hunting colleagues, James Hill, a friend of the staff who can often be seen hunting or fishing during the season, and Anselmo’s head chef, Jon Stadille, who has been operating the restaurant for the past seven years, and says he’s been a hunter his entire adult life.
“Once we turn the dogs loose—one is an English Pointer named Jack, and the other is a ‘flusher’ named Katy—they locate the game,” and the hunt for quail is on. After about two hours, Jon offers a prepared snack to eat during a brief break in the pursuit, one of the benefits for hunters that’s included in the outing.
“Hunting season for upland bird game is October 15 through March 31,” Doyle says, “from Wednesday through Sunday.” Hunting other species of game must coincide with state regulations, so hunters would need to plan ahead to find out what the hunting season is for big game like deer.
“We do ask that people call at least 24 hours ahead to make a reservation for any type of hunting. We only book one hunting party on the ranch at one time, so folks are never in a crowded environment.” A typical hunting party includes two people and a guide, plus two hunting dogs.
Most guests schedule their hunt starting at 9 o’clock, Doyle says, and typically hunt three to four hours with a 20-bird limit each. Later, when they return to have lunch back at the restaurant, culled birds are cleaned and prepared to take home with them — all included in the price.
For those who wish to skip hunting but would like to try their hand at shooting targets, the grounds have a sporting clay facility with 12 stations where the public can come to shoot. “The package includes a hundred clay targets and is similar to trap or skeet shooting, but you actually walk through like on a golf course. All of the different stations simulate bird shooting, so there will be some clay targets that fly overhead, some that go through the brush; a variety of things.”
Rules require that anybody who comes to shoot must have a valid hunting license. No license is required to shoot the sporting clays, however, and instruction is provided if needed.
“I think it’s the open air that brings me here,” James explains after the hunt. He thoroughly enjoys the outdoors and the camaraderie. “The whole experience encompasses so much that it’s hard to explain fully. It’s a place where old friends get together in the great outdoors to share stories and experiences.” The quality of the food is the tastiest possible when one brings it back fresh from the field, he adds.
Anselmo Vineyards is open year round for restaurant patrons and weddings. Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 4 p.m., and for dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until closing around nine or 10 o’clock. On Sunday the grounds are open for brunch from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
Anselmo Vineyards is located at 28740 Inwood Road, Shingletown, CA. 96088. Call 530-474-5546 for restaurant reservations or to enquire about accommodations. To schedule a hunting reservation, please call Doyle Besecker at 530-474-3080. Visit their website at: www.anselmovineyards.com.