California ~ Spending the Night in Lillie Langtry's House ~ Guenoc Winery

Beautiful home once owned by Lillie Langtry

Beautiful home once owned by Lillie Langtry
Beautiful home once owned by Lillie Langtry | Source

Sleeping in Lillie Langtry's Bed


One very fond memory of one of our California wine country trips in late April of 1991 originated here at Lillie Langtry's house which is now used as a guest house for Guenoc Winery.

After flying from Houston to San Francisco, we rented a car and drove to the winery which is located at the northern part of the Napa Valley stretching into Lake County.

It was prearranged that we would be guests of the owners of Guenoc Winery. It just so happened that we were the sole occupants of the guest house that night. It is a sprawling and beautiful old Victorian house and we had our pick of the bedrooms.

Naturally we chose to stay in Lillie's old room.


Lillie Langtry's house

Plaque attached to the house
Plaque attached to the house | Source
Wonderful wrap around porch and balcony on Lillie's house
Wonderful wrap around porch and balcony on Lillie's house | Source
One view looking out from the house
One view looking out from the house | Source
The California poppies were in full bloom!
The California poppies were in full bloom! | Source

Lillie Langtry Tribute

Who was Lillie Langtry?


Suffice it to briefly say...she was a famous stage actress well known to European and American theatre-goers in the late 19th and early 20th century as well as being known as an International beauty. She was also "favored" by British royalty and was beloved by many men in her life.


Her nickname was the "Jersey Lily."


In 1888 she purchased 4,200 acres of land in the Guenoc Valley and decided to make wine. She actually brought a French winemaker from Bordeaux by the name of Henri Descelles to accomplish that goal.

Her likeness was placed on the labels and Guenoc wines today still sport that image of her.


Lillie Langtry's house / now part of Guenoc Winery

This oak tree on the property is said to be one of the oldest of its kind in California.
This oak tree on the property is said to be one of the oldest of its kind in California. | Source
Downstair's parlor in the Langtry House
Downstair's parlor in the Langtry House | Source
Dining room downstairs
Dining room downstairs | Source
Lillie's bedroom upstairs
Lillie's bedroom upstairs | Source
Freddie Gebhardt's room across the upstair's parlor from Lillie's room.
Freddie Gebhardt's room across the upstair's parlor from Lillie's room. | Source

We settle in...





The grounds surrounding this expansive old Victorian house are beautiful. Rolling hills and fields of orange blooming poppies painted our view wherever we looked.





After we were let into the house and had time to look around, we decided that we wanted to sleep in Lillie Langtry's bedroom. How many people can say that? We thought that it would be fun.




Supposedly her favorite color was yellow and her bedroom was certainly ablaze with variations of that hue. Some old wallpaper in the closet might have actually been what she had personally selected.




Most of the furnishings in the house are no longer original to what Lillie Langtry had owned with the exception of a beautiful old gramophone which did belong to her. The furniture in the house replicates what would have been the style to suit the period of the late 1880's.




The downstairs parlor was comfortable and over the fireplace was a portrait of Lillie.




In one corner of the dining room was the wooden gramophone that was originally hers.





Upstairs there was a parlor separating her room from Freddie Gebhardt's room. He was one of her male friends that also owned property adjacent to hers.

More photos from the Lillie Langtry house / Guenoc Winery

My husband standing next to Lillie Langtry's gramophone.
My husband standing next to Lillie Langtry's gramophone. | Source
Upstairs parlor between Lillie's and Freddie's bedrooms.
Upstairs parlor between Lillie's and Freddie's bedrooms. | Source
Downstair's bedroom in the Langtry house
Downstair's bedroom in the Langtry house | Source
Planted vineyard looking toward the winery
Planted vineyard looking toward the winery | Source

Guenoc Winery Estate

Some of the land on the Guenoc estate
Some of the land on the Guenoc estate | Source
Karen's cat, Falina, sitting atop her baby grand piano.
Karen's cat, Falina, sitting atop her baby grand piano. | Source

Our evening...


Having driven through the little town while getting to our specially arranged lodging for the night, we spotted a couple of restaurants and thought that we would probably pick one of them in which to have supper that evening when we were surprised by a telephone call.


Karen Melander-Magoon invited us to join her for a tour of the vineyards. She picked us up and began to show us some of the vineyards nearby. She brought some Guenoc wines to taste as we looked down upon the land where the grapes were grown. This was such a wonderful treat and totally unexpected. We knew that a tour of the winery was arranged for the next day.


We were getting along so well that instead of inviting us to join her at one of those restaurants in town as she had planned to do, she instead invited us to continue the evening in her home on the estate. Of course we said "yes!"


We learned that the Magoon family had been huge landholders in Hawaii and had descended from Hawaiian royalty and Chinese nobility. 23 acres of land that was needed for the University of Hawaii was converted into 23,000 acres of California property.


Most of the land is utilized for ranching but a portion was already started by Lillie Langtry as a vineyard, and the Magoon family decided to pursue an expansion of that and have obviously done so successfully.


Karen who is Orville Magoon's wife takes an active part in the winery. She handles public relations and marketing for the winery but also had an interesting career prior to that. She sang opera for twenty years in Austria and Germany.


Orville was on business in Hawaii, so we did not get to meet him. But Karen pulled out all the stops!


She thawed some wild boar out of her freezer and made a delicious lasagna along with a wonderful fresh salad picked from her garden filled with fragrant herbs all of which she grows. Homemade brownies completed the meal.


Wild boar roam the estate. Hunting and fishing is an added attraction for those fortunate enough to be invited by the Magoons as guests.


Naturally it goes without saying that we also enjoyed an assortment of Guenoc wines to accompany that meal prepared by Karen.

That night we sampled the following Guenoc wines...

Sauvignon Blanc

Chardonnay......Regular and Reserve

Cabernet Sauvignon.......Regular and Reserve

and Zinfandel.


A very special treat was her singing!

Karen taught us "The Wine Song" that she had created and after dinner I joined her in some songs while she played her baby grand piano. It turned out to be a very late night, but one that will happily remain in our memory banks forever!

Guenoc Winery

The wisteria was in full bloom at the winery.
The wisteria was in full bloom at the winery. | Source
Near the top of the original Langtry winery land
Near the top of the original Langtry winery land | Source

Be sure and click on this link to see the official Langtry & Guenoc site if you are interested.

The next day...


We met Karen the next day after a little sleep following our wonderfully entertaining night at her home. At the winery were two friends of Orville's who had come primarily to do some fishing on the grounds of the estate. Karen gave the four of us a full tour of the winery and the original Langtry vineyards.

We were driven in a 4 wheel drive vehicle over very bumpy terrain.


Lillie would have been driven over the same roads in a stagecoach!

It would have been even more jostling for her since stagecoaches did not have rubber wheels as we had.


We saw original winery ruins.

We also passed an Indian burial mound which is being protected from any kind of development on the way up to the top of the old winery and vineyards.


What can I say about this visit?

Superlatives cannot quite capture the fun and memories that were embedded into this experience. We were to move on to other sights and some more vacation fun...but the Lillie Langtry House and Guenoc Winery will remain a part of us always especially because of our most generous and vivacious hostess, Karen.

Lillie Langtry barn and remnants of winery now part of Guenoc Winery

The Langtry Barn
The Langtry Barn | Source
Ruins of the Lillie Langtry winery
Ruins of the Lillie Langtry winery | Source

Location of Guenoc Winery in California

A markerGuenoc Winery -
21000 Butts Canyon Rd, Middletown, CA 95461, USA
[get directions]

If you enjoy visiting the wine country in California, think of visiting Guenoc Winery whether or not you get to spend the night in Lillie Langtry's bed. The scenery is beautiful as hopefully some of my pictures will have shown. Of one thing I am certain...you will love the hospitality shown by the nice folks at Guenoc Winery while you sample their luscious wines.

Beautiful countryside surrounding Guenoc Winery

Final view of the winery and surrounding area as we took our leave.
Final view of the winery and surrounding area as we took our leave. | Source

Langtry Estate & Vineyards winemaker Eric Stine doing manual punch downs of Petit Verdot for 2010 harvest.

Bottling Line at Langtry Estate & Vineyards

Langtry Estate & Vineyards

Do you like visiting wineries?

  • Yes...Enjoy seeing the different areas of the country and tasting the wines
  • Yes...Some of my fondest vacation memories consist of doing this
  • Yes...Any chance I get!
  • No...I'm not a wine enthusiast
  • No...I prefer doing other things with my time
  • Have not visited a winery but would like to do it sometime
See results without voting

Lily Langtry portrait by Watts

© 2009 Peggy Woods

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Comments are welcomed! 28 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Suzanne,

California certainly is a beautiful state! In what part of California did you live? I think that more people would be tempted to live there except for the high real estate prices. Nice that you enjoyed the parks and historical places of interest while you were living there. Thanks for your comment + votes.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas

What an interesting and enjoyable experience! I lived in CA for almost 20 years and loved it. There are so many parks and historical places of interest to visit there for free or for very low cost, and the weather is so temperate. Perhaps I will return one of these days!

Voted up and interesting! :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Au fait,

That was a special treat indeed to be able to stay in Lillie Langtry's home which is now a part of the Guenoc Winery estate. My husband and I have had some fabulous trips out to the California wine country. It is a great destination for those who enjoy tasting different wines...but also for the beauty of the place. Never did get to take a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards. That is still on my bucket list. Thanks for your votes + the share.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Gorgeous photos and videos as always! Your visit must have been so exciting and to have slept in the same bed as Lillie Langtry besides! I'm sure a lot of people would love to be able to say they have done that. A wonderful recollection of your trip that will be helpful to people who are planning a trip to California's wine country. Voted up, interesting, and beautiful. Will share!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Vinaya,

My husband and I have been fortunate enough to visit some amazing wineries in California and elsewhere, including some here in Texas. He has even gotten to see some wonderful ones in Italy. I have used his photos and have written about some of those experiences as well. Perhaps someday you will get to visit one or more. Getting to see Guenoc winery in the manner that we did was truly special! Thanks for your comment.


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