Last Month, Story Vineyards near Amador was featured as the cover story of our magazine. I was so impressed with the history of the winery, I wanted to visit Jan and Bruce (the owners of Story) and learn more. While I was there, I asked if there were any nearby historical places to stay overnight that might also serve a terrific meal. I was enthusiastically directed to the Mine House Inn.
The Mine House Inn sets on a hill in Amador City, off of Highway 49, about 2.5 miles north of Sutter Creek. The inn is comprised of three structures: The Keystone Historic Building, a 1930's Cottage, and a Victorian House. The Keystone building was originally built in 1870 and served as the Offices of the Consolidated Keystone Mining Company. The building was purchased in October of 1954 by the Daubenspeck family after having been empty for 12 years. (All mines had been ordered to close in 1942 during World War II under the Conservation of Precious Metals Act.) The Daubenspecks soon opened the structure as an Inn in 1957. It was kept in the family as a Bed and Breakfast for about 20 years, then was acquired by Allen and Rose Mendy in August of 1993.
The Mendys then continued a renovation project begun by the previous owners, honoring the historical details that came with each unique room, and furnishing them with 19th Century antiques. Each room in the inn served a particular purpose when the building was used by the mining company, and today the rooms are named according to their previous function: The Directors Room, the Bookkeeping Room, the Stores Room, the Mill Grinding Room, the Retort Room (used to smelt the mined gold into gold bullion), and the Vault Room. The Keystone Room (added around 1915), originally housed a dumb waiter shaft used to transport processed gold up from the Retort Room to a mine vault.
The old Gold Rush Days really came alive for me when I was shown the room where I would be staying, The Vault Room. This room contains the original Keystone Mine safe where all the gold bullion was stored before it was loaded on Wells Fargo stagecoaches bound for San Francisco. There is a combination on the safe, and guests are encouraged during their stay to try their luck at opening it! The walls of the room are beautifully accented in blue and gold, and there is a balcony with a magnificent view.
There are also accommodations within the next door Victorian house (2 rooms that contain a fireplace and in-room jacuzzis) and the 1930’s cottage. The Mine House Inn also boasts to date the only Bed & Breakfast in the area with a heated pool and spa. I can report the pool area remains a quiet and relaxing retreat even when all the rooms are full, as they were during my stay. During relaxation mode, guests may decide to take advantage of the Mine House’s available spa services by indulging in a massage, facial, or body wrap combination. Day Spa users who are not guests of the inn are also invited to use the pool or jacuzzi (between 10am and 6pm). All day spa services can also be pre-arranged in a package with total room cost--even packages including limousine service. (There are 2 limos on the premises ready for winery tours and other tourist excursions.)
With all it has to offer, The Mine House Bed and Breakfast would be incomplete without a delicious breakfast. Meals are served in the “Gold Room” in the Victorian House or on the adjoining back patio. Breakfast times are arranged for each guest upon check-in and special consideration is given to guests who might have special dietary needs. There is a vegetarian option available so no one goes hungry.
The dishes are planned and prepared by Rose herself, and so popular among visitors that she has authored a cookbook with 60 recipes developed during the past 11 years.
At my scheduled time of 9am, I seated myself at a table on the patio for coffee. The server asked from which room I had come to make sure I was delivered the correct meal. A few moments later, a basket containing a poppy seed cake was brought out. The cake was a generous slice, dotted heavily with poppy seeds, and sweet but not cloying. It paired very well with the orange juice that was being served. Soon, a gorgeous martini glass filled with a fruit, granola and yogurt parfait garnished by a sprig of mint was placed in front of me. The granola was a confection of oats and plump dried cranberries and a bit of coconut, and the fruit mixture that accompanied it was noticeably fresh, a combination of berries and chopped apples, topped with creamy vanilla yogurt. The final segment of the meal was a squared portion of a breakfast casserole (one of Rose’s originals), made with eggs, cheese, and green peppers. It was plated with crumbled bacon on two sides of the square. The casserole was tender and cheesy and the bacon was perfectly browned and crisp. Such special attention was given to presentation of the food--each plate of the main course was garnished with an orange slice and delicate purple flower.
It is evident that Allen and Rose Mendy take both pride and joy in being the hosts of the Mine House Inn. They are not just proprietors of the establishment, but also live in the Victorian house above the Gold Room, and work very hard to ensure the satisfaction of their guests. They delight in recounting stories about the Inn, especially the Keystone Building’s “haunted” history.