A Conversation with… Joel and Jim at the Chanric in California
THE CHANRIC, nestled in the Northern Californian town of CALISTOGA is the perfect retreat for those who love great food and wine. Owners Joel and Jim left France 24 years ago to live in Paraguay where they ran a cattle ranch, a Cultural Centre with an art gallery, a small theatre and also a French bistro! They moved to the USA and ran The Chanric as an inn until early 2017 when they decided to operate it as holiday rental house, giving you the opportunity to take over the whole house as your own. Here we catch a small glimpse of their lives through a chat with Joel…
You’ve already lived about 20 lives between you, moving from France to Paraguay to the US. What’s been the driving force behind each of your moves?
Curiosity. Curiosity for the world – life is short!!!
You speak English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Which language(s) do you dream in?
Jim dreams in French and sometimes in Spanish, I dream in French and English now. We’re people of the world!
What prompted you to turn the house from an inn into rental accommodation?
The evolution and revolution of the lodging market here in the states, meaning self catering has become increasingly popular. That along with wanting to have more time to devote to our family made the decision an easy one.
What was the most challenging part of the renovation?
The time schedule.
Is there a part of the house/grounds that you particularly love or are proudest of?
I love the inviting landscaping at the front of the house and also the patio. The bathrooms have been completely renovated from A to Z with the best materials, giving a bright, modern feel.
What’s your favourite time of year in Calistoga (see pic below) and why?
My favourite time is May and also the end of the Harvest season, until Indian summer.
This is a mean question but, given your backgrounds, if you had to choose would you choose French or Californian wine?
We love Californian, French, Chilean, Argentinean, Italian and Spanish wine but with a single criterion: their quality!
Your ethos, and indeed the ethos of Calistoga as a whole seems to be focussed on wellbeing – feeding the mind, body and soul. If you were to design your perfect day, how would it look?
There would be no schedule. I’d walk around and stop in small wineries behind the trails, take the small roads and go to dinner in a good restaurant. There are plenty in Napa Valley.
What are the top five things you’d recommend guests to try when visiting for the first time?
Take the Silverado Trail (more country feeling than the main road), stop at Round Pond Estate in Rutherford for lunch and choose the Il Pranzo experience, which is a light lunch with their wines and local olive oil tastings. Go to the Hess Collection winery to enjoy their great modern art collection with a glass of wine. Visit the Beringer caves, which are the oldest caves in the valley. Have dinner at Bistrot Jeanty, which serves the best “Quenelle de brochet” I’ve ever eaten!
You used to run a cattle ranch. Which are easier to manage – cattle or people?
Where do you like to go on holiday and what’s the first thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
We mostly love travelling to extreme locations – the Atacama Desert in Chile, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, Red Rock Canyon in Palm Springs, Sedona in Arizona, the South Island of New Zealand, Scotland, but also Lake Como in Italy, the lakes in Switzerland and … sailing the sea! And the first thing I do whenever I arrive in a new place is to watch the horizon!