One of the many reasons travelers visit a wine destination – aside from the wine – is for the experience of it. Pastoral views, scenic drives, culinary treats and relaxing overnight accommodations tend to be the top boxes to tick for a wine country getaway.
Clark County has most of these bases covered and, with 19 public tasting rooms, the area is not short on selection. What it is lacking are those charming inns and guest houses. Beak & Bloom Guest House, located at the end of a secluded drive in Battle Ground, is doing their part to change that.
Opened on April 1 by husband-and-wife team, Mark and Bettina Pope, Beak & Bloom currently offers three private rooms and hopes to add a private cottage by the end of the year. Situated in the completely renovated daylight basement of their personal residence, travelers enjoy a private entrance, cozy living room, a well-equipped kitchenette and dining room. Through a variety of online vacation rental sites like Airbnb and Travelocity, guests can book one room or the entire 1,400-square-foot space.
The Popes have a successful background in hospitality as the former owners of La Lune Sucrée, a café in San Jose, Calif., that catered to the soup-and-sandwich crowd with a special focus on European pastries and quiches. Toward the end of their five-year ownership, the couple sat down and wrote out an extensive wish list for their follow-up venture.
They knew they wanted to move closer to their children and grandchildren who reside in Portland, Ore.; they knew they wanted to have acreage for the first time with space for a garden; and they knew they wanted to live and work on the property.
“After we purchased this home, we pulled out that original list and I don’t think there was one item missing, so we were extraordinarily happy about that,” Mark said.
Born and raised in Germany, Bettina lived in France for three years to learn the language when she was younger and worked as an au pair (a nanny) with a family there. It was time spent in France that sparked her interest in the flaky pastries the country is famous for.
She and Mark met in 1979 when they were both traveling in London and, two years later, were married. A largely self-taught pastry chef, Bettina did take classes with a local pastry chef in Florida and spent six weeks working at a patisserie in France while visiting her brother. Over the years, she has also shadowed other pastry chefs.
This investment into her passion paid off last year when La Lune Sucrée was chosen as one of 25 local eateries to participate in the Super Bowl 50 VIP Tailgate Party in Santa Clara, Calif.
Alas, overnight guests to Beak & Bloom will not be able to partake of Bettina’s almond croissants, quiches, buttermilk currant scones or apricot-vanilla bean jam, but the warm ambience and genuine interest in others most certainly followed the Popes to Battle Ground.
“People loved our food when we had the café,” Bettina said. “I most enjoyed pleasing people with what I made. Everything else was a little more work (than I had expected).”
The level of detail with which the Popes operated La Lune can now be seen throughout Beak & Bloom and the two and a half acres it sits on. From WiFi throughout the property to a flat screen TV in the living space to handmade room signs on each bedroom door, the idea is to feel like the guesthouse is a home away from home.
It’s not a retreat without some unexpected touches, though, and Mark and Bettina have those in spades. A deck for two overlooks the Salmon Creek waterfront; a rustic cabin with plenty of windows has been outfitted with cozy seating and makes the perfect escape for curling up with a good book and a local bottle of wine; and an outdoor covered kitchen is outfitted with water, electricity, an ice chest, grill, barbeque, induction burner and seating for 20 or more.
Adjacent to the outdoor kitchen is the little red cabin that Mark has been busy renovating and hopes to bring online by Thanksgiving. When finished, it will boast a king-sized bed, private bath and its own kitchenette. A small sitting area, covered outdoor patio and separate parking will complete this oasis.
Situated in the middle of Southwest Washington wine country, the Popes have made it known to many of the area wineries that they are here to support a growing industry and be a collaborative partner. They are entertaining the idea of wine weekend packages that could take advantage of nearby hiking, possibly showcase a rotating bottle of wine in each guest room and offer discounted tasting coupons to wineries that would like to participate in joint marketing ventures. These concepts and more are the brainchild of Mark, whose former life includes a healthcare consulting business and plenty of personnel and promotion experience.
“We’re creating an awesome place to stay that will complement all that the Battle Ground area already has going for it,” Mark said. “I have been going to (the Battle Ground Chamber) breakfast meetings and everyone is happy we’re here.”
To learn more about Beak & Bloom, visit https://www.beakandbloom.com/.