Glen Ellen's Heart and Wine


Jack London didn’t live very long, just forty years, but he did live well and he traveled far and wide. As a journalist and writer, no one in his time was a bigger celebrity or a more ardent adventurer than Jack was. He was a poor Bay Area boy made good, and he loved the place he called his Beauty Ranch in the hills above Glen Ellen. Jack chose well. His ranch is a

beautiful and diverse slice of California. In some places, it’s open and sun-drenched. In other spots, it’s sheltered by oaks and redwoods. Steep hills lead to marvelous views down into the Valley of the Moon and out towards the Bay. Immediately after the great earthquake of 1906, Jack and his wife raced to the summit of their ranch and could see San Francisco aflame in the distance. The haunting remains of his dream home, Wolf House, which burned before he could move in, sulks quietly in the woods not far from where Jack was buried under a simple volcanic rock. All of this is now part of Jack London State Park, one of my personal favorites in the state park system. I’ve returned many times to read more and ask more questions, fascinated as much by Jack London the person and the adventurer as by Jack London the writer. I’m convinced that if I had been him, I, too, would have made Glen Ellen my refuge. Of course, that’s precisely what some other wise and creative people have done in recent years, and they have stories to tell and wine to share.

Change comes to every community, including Glen Ellen, although its basic nature is today what it was when we shot our story. The only big alteration is that Norton Buffalo moved away from the town and neighborhood he likes so much. But where do you go when you leave lovely Glen Ellen? There’s perhaps only one place better, and they call it Paradise. No, not that Paradise. Norton is, fortunately, still among us mortals. His Paradise is the one my mom and dad called home for more than forty years. It’s a town in the piny foothills of the Sierra Nevada near Chico, about 3 hours from Glen Ellen. When you cross into its city limits, a big sign proclaims that Paradise is “all that its name implies." Let’s hope Norton finds it that way. Glen Ellen is a tough act to follow.

Famed writer and adventurer Jack London made this his home here one hundred years ago. Meet some others who’ve followed his lead.
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