Monday morning at Park winters, a farmer wearing a multicolored umbrella hat trims the fields of flowers for the field picking-your-bouquet
experience, while couples shopping for a wedding venue take tours of the 10-acre grounds. Co-owners Rafael Galiano and John Martin are preparing for the week’s events by guiding staff gardeners and farmers and arranging guided tours. The couple are in their tenth year of owning and operating the estate, which serves as a venue for weddings and private events and has an on-site bed and breakfast on a Victorian farmhouse. Park Winters also runs full day tours with activities such as garden tours, photo ops, flower picking, winter dried bouquets making, and seasonal farm-to-table meals (the latter being suspended due to the pandemic).
The owners describe the Winters property as “a country getaway”. Galiano says they modeled Park Winters after Valley Oaks Ranch in Mendocino County, “the dreamiest place” then owned by the family behind Fetzer wine. He and Martin used to vacation there every season “to bring their country back to life” when they lived in San Francisco. In 2010, Valley Oaks Ranch was bought out and its visitor center closed, leaving Galiano and Martin “out of place” without their usual vacation destination. The partners quickly began to dream of recreating a similar experience.
In 2011, the couple discovered and purchased Park Winters, and they have since found a sense of community with neighboring owners. Galiano, previously a real estate agent and real estate developer, and Martin, a former director of a private company with a background in hotel and hospitality management, have each settled into roles according to their personality and professional background. “I’m the gardener, the developer, the designer, the dreamer,” says Galiano. “And John is in charge of reservations, events, and hospitality coordination.” Simply put, says Galiano, he’s responsible for everything clients see and Martin manages everything clients experience.
Together they restored the property’s original farm (built in 1865 for entertaining by the George Washington Scott family), and modernized it with modern touches like insulation and artwork with gallery lighting. Galiano says they’ve retained “that lovely feeling,” but also honored their intention to make the bucolic beauty of the gardens and grounds more accessible to visitors. “It’s more experiential, and now the audience can come and enjoy such a special place.”
2020 was a rare break for the partners. As wedding and event bookings have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the partners have taken the time to plan their next moves and used their paycheck protection program loan to hire a few. new staff. “It was a time when we thought we were going to sharpen our ax and spend time doing things we hadn’t had the chance to do,” says Galiano. One of those things was the launch Park winter market, an e-commerce hub where people can buy products made by local manufacturers in Winters. “This is a project that we have wanted to launch for years,” he says.
Galiano describes 2020 as stressful, but productive: “I meditated and sang a lot under my breath for us to be successful. … We donated our flowers to retirement homes, organized private picnics for families where we did not approach anyone. … It has been a year of giving back and planning our next move.
In 2021, partners continue to expand Park Winters’ offerings by creating more activities for day trips, such as a market, farmhouse brunches, and sunset lounge. The owners say they are delighted to present the new experiences soon. 2022 will see the return of Summer country, the domain’s annual networking event for content creators and event planners in the Sacramento and Bay area. The event reflects the social spirit of Park Winters, which Galiano and Martin aspire to foster through future events such as trade shows they call their “social social in the countryside”.
“Park Winters is a platform for writers, creatives, conductors, artists and musicians,” said Galiano. “We want this to be a creative and educational boost. ”
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