A once abandoned historic ranch in Templeton has lovingly been restored through the efforts of its new owners, Shayna and Nick Lerno. Named after its location, 1800 El Pomar is surrounded with a 360-degree view of the oak-studded rolling hills and is located just three miles east of town. 

The Lernos acquired the ranch in 2017 with a mission to transform the idyllic property into a wedding and event venue. 

“It was one big ranch, all a part of the Hawkins ranch,” Nick told me of the site that sits on El Pomar near Neal Springs Road. “Evelyn Hawkins then subdivided the ranch and sold it in smaller sections.”

The 46-acre parcel purchased by the Lernos includes a 20-acre vineyard planted to cabernet sauvignon. 

“It’s all contracted to Daou winery,” said Nick of the grapes. (“It’s excellent,” said Daniel Daou). The rest of the ranch features an iconic aged-redwood barn, a three-story tank house, the Victorian-era farmhouse with an outdoor garden and many other original ranch buildings. 

“This was an old, big pasture with cattle,” said Shayna as we walked around the expansive property. The rustic barn was filled with hay, she pointed out. “The barn is currently undergoing retrofit and fire sprinkler process,” Shayna said. Completion is expected by the fall of 2020.

When the Lernos, Central Coast natives, planned their wedding in San Luis Obispo seven years ago, they wished to hold the ceremony in a scenic property. Shayna recalled that most venues did not offer a weekend experience. 

“You check-in at 10 a.m. and check out at 10 p.m.,” she commented. “Our vision was to have our parents stay with us and we started racking our brains.” 

After all these years, it’s serendipitous that the couple came across the 1800 El Pomar ranch this year to make their vision a reality — a venue where the wedding party can check in on Friday noon and stay at the ranch through the weekend to take in the wine country experience.

“The farmhouse is also included for the whole weekend,” Shayna said.

The old Victorian had gone through some remodeling but a much more loving restoration went into it with Shayna adding her creative decorating touches. The house oozes Victorian charm with fixtures such as transom windows and a classic wrap-around porch. With four bedrooms and two bathrooms (plus queen sofa-beds in the living room and den), the house sleeps up to 12 people.

“You can have rehearsal dinners on-site,” Shayna added of this advantage. However, for the newlywed’s getaway, the Lernos have access to a lavish suite in downtown Templeton. When booking an event, the Lernos and their staff members are very much hands-on the day before and the day of the event said Shayna.

Shayna took me on a tour to the ceremony location, which is set behind the house and surrounded by vineyards. She pointed to the bridal pathway that leads to the ceremonial space positioned between two aged oaks. The northwest-facing location offers plenty of shade for the guests in an early to late afternoon setting. “It’s a perfect venue with plenty of open space to customize your wedding or event,” Shayna noted.  

The 7,000-square-foot grass area complete with a concrete dance floor illuminated by overhead vintage lights provides an ideal reception site for up to 200 guests. A cascading fountain crafted from multiple wine barrels and a built-in rustic bar enhance the wine country vibe of the scenic setting. 

“It really comes to life at night,” Shayna said.

The garage is equipped with a walk-in cooler for storing flowers, food and beverages, and the weekend wedding package includes tables, chairs, photo booth and a lounge area appointed with outdoor furnishings. 

The couple is set to launch a wine label with some of the wine produced from estate fruit. The wine label, La Perdignus (Latin for worthy), will be sold through a small tasting room the Lernos plan to open next year in downtown Templeton. It’s all a lot of fun for Nick, but he commented: “It’s also a lot of work and it never gets done.”

“This is our first summer-into-fall opening, but next year looks healthy as we have 15 weddings booked,” he said.

For more information, go to 1800elpomar.com