Weekends in Texas
Refuge at Riven Rock Ranch
Not every weekend in the Hill Country is a bed of roses, especially if you’ve taken a chance on a B&B booking site and ended up with an accommodation that didn’t quite hit the notes you were expecting. (Despite the deceptively glorious pictures online.) There are those who love a weekend of back-in-time bliss complete with country charm décor and remnants of Texas history around every corner. And there’s certainly a time and place for that.
But vintage lace, doilies, and excessive collections of antiques are not my style. So when it comes to a relaxing weekend away, where I’m really looking for more of a home-away-from-home—or perhaps even a step up from that, I look to the Riven Rock Ranch in Comfort, Texas. (Seriously, there is a town called Comfort, and it’s every bit as charming as the name implies.)
Riven Rock Ranch is a relative newcomer to the Hill Country accommodations circuit. It’s located off of Highway 27 down a winding road along the Guadalupe river. Just beyond scenic cattle pastures, up a narrow drive, you begin to see the sophistication that sets this ranch apart from just any B&B. Walking the hilltop grounds of the property, it doesn’t take much to see that Owners Chris and Elaine Havens have made every effort to cross all ‘i’s’ and dot all ‘t’s’ in the name of Hill Country luxury.
And it really is a special experience. With 4 vintage ranch-style cabins that can be rented in their entirety or by private suite, the property is perfect for a romantic getaway with a loved one or even a family reunion. Each of these cabins come complete with handsome gourmet “dream” kitchens--stocked with all the basic cooking gear, well appointed bath and sitting rooms, and beautifully staged bedrooms (Yes, there’s a country theme to them, but think Grandma's House-meets-the Four Seasons). Each cabin also has limestone patios with Adirondack chairs and gas grills. No cabin is without a stunning view of the valley below. The Havens are working on adding smaller individual cabins for those that don’t need the full expanse of a kitchen and living area.
I recently spent an evening in the smaller “Teacher’s Cottage,” a remodeled cabin from the 1940s. It had more space than my husband and I were able to use but we did our best. Wine and cheese in the kitchen area, reading books in the comfortable living room, more wine as the sun set from the patio, and an unbelievably restorative slumber in our marshmallow cloud of a bed layered with scrumptiously soft sheets.
We woke the next morning without much desire to leave our sunny little room, but a tap at our front door followed by the parade of breakfast trays and the enticing aroma of fresh coffee delivered to the kitchen table roused our appetites. Ricotta-pine nut and blueberry pancakes along with a petite cast iron skillet strata with a savory egg, brioche, and axis-venison sausage. Both dishes were accompanied by yogurt with fresh fruit, fresh orange juice, and a thermos of strong, hot, black coffee—the only way to welcome the day. We thanked our breakfast delivery folks and happily dug into the morning bounty. We enjoyed the second cup of coffee back on the patio before the heat of the day set in.
Impeccable décor, cozy beds and breakfasts fit for a king aren’t the only things Riven Rock has to offer.
Outdoor lovers will enjoy canoeing or kayaking the emerald Guadalupe River. (Bring your rods if you enjoy bass fishing.) There are also hike and bike trails, a swimming pool and nearby ranches can accommodate hunting and horseback riding requests. Foodies will love the Terrace Grill at the peak of the hill. It’s open for lunch on most days and dinner only on the weekends, but the rustic American fare is delicious and very fitting of the limestone open-air frame. The kitchen gets most ingredients from local farmers and purveyors as well as from the ranch’s garden. And soon, the property will have it’s own winery. The Havens have already planted merlot, tempranillo, negro amaro, and viognier, all of which are expected to yield enough for a 2012 vintage.
And while many may enjoy spending their day shopping in nearby Fredericksburg or Boerne, I’d suggest sticking to the Comfort area, taking the time to stroll the property, and maybe make an excursion to Comfort’s High Street for a little antiquing. Or perhaps around the bend to Bending Branch Winery, where you’ll find an impressive collection of wine, most of which is made from Texas grapes. (The Tannat and Picpoul are the dominant varietals for this winery.)
Where a lot of places seem to try to hard, Riven Rock just is. It’s a place where you just sort of melt into the Hill Country and forget the world you left behind. We reluctantly left our home-away-from-home just as a crew of event staff were pulling up in large vans and trucks set up for an evening wedding—an occasion that happens often at this place. Though we’re well past having thrown our own wedding extravaganza, I couldn’t help but think this would have been the perfect spot had I the opportunity to do it all again... Nah, I’ll just take the quiet weekend getaway here, thank you very much.