We recently had the unique opportunity to catch up with photographer, Erich McVey after he hosted one gosh-darn beautifully inspired workshop at Cuffey's Cove Ranch. We've never understood why a workshop or a corporate gathering is often relegated to a stale and boring setting complete with powerpoints and bad overhead lighting, when the exchange of ideas is so very inspiring and demands a setting equally as exhilarating.
According to the uber-talented Erich McVey, in order to provide a proper platform for the exchange of ideas among creatives, one must look off-the-grid for inspirational gathering locales. The barn where the workshop perfectly set the stage for the nighttime sessions to be lit by loads of candlelight. A novel and inspired idea, indeed, especially when the stylist is Ginny Au and the floral designer is Soil & Stem (assisted by Tess Comrie) with rentals from 12th Table and perfectly calligraphed place settings by Mon Voir - you have a dream team in a dream setting.
Words + Photography by Erich McVey Photography:
Cuffey's Cove Ranch is so remote it almost feels otherworldly. A few highlights:
Seeing wild deer in the forest behind the main event barn almost every morning, wandering through the morning mist in between ferns, redwood trees and the soft California light.
There isn't any electricity in the main barn, where we hosted the workshop class time (there is electricity in the beautifully restored house on the property). So at the end of the welcome dinner, we had to shut down the generators that ran power to the barn. When we shut everything down and all the lights were turned off, it was pretty amazing. No lights, not another soul around for miles, and the most incredible view of the night sky and moonlight glowing on the ocean past the bluffs below.
Why did you choose this venue for your workshop?
I wanted our workshop to be visually beautiful and artistically inspirational from start to finish. Cuffey's Cove Ranch provided the perfect environment for the workshop, stunning surroundings not only for the styled shoots but for every moment of our time there.
The property has a ton of variety in terms of environment and views, with lush fern groves, old redwood forest, wild meadows atop rocky cliffs, and coastal fields running into driftwood beaches. It's off the beaten path, but that's part of what makes it such a special place. The barn where we held class and meals each day had the patina of a well-loved barn that had served the ranch for generations. Creaking floorboards and wood worn by the salty ocean air. The house on the property was also a plus. It's called The Kenny House, and is named after James Kenny, who purchased the land in 1855 and built the home. The home was recently renovated, with so much care taken to maintain the authenticity of it's history. It's truly a work of art, and feels like traveling back in time when you are in it.
Tell us about the venue in general?
Cuffey's Cove Ranch is a family-owned private coastal ranch in a remote area of northern California, about 3 hours north San Fran. Not sure what the capacity is. Our workshop consisted of 50 individuals (including attendees and the large team of creatives that came together to put it on), and it was by no means crowded - could have easily fit double that number of people.
What do you think makes it a great venue in general?
I think what makes the venue so special is the remoteness. It's almost other-worldly, and creates a unique experience where all of your guests are so removed from real life that they are fully present and engaged in the special time shared together at the ranch. It's an experience that you never forget, and really brings everyone together in a powerful way.
What additional types of events do you think it's ideal for?
The venue is perfect for a small, intimate wedding, but would also be great for a retreat, special dinner party, etc. The Kenny House is listed on airbnb, and would make for a great weekend getaway with friends.
Any special drinks or eats you had in the surrounding area?
The Elk Store was our favorite place to grab lunch (they make some incredible sandwiches!), bottles of wine and other necessities during our stay in Elk. Their shop has so much charm and character, and the owners are really kind passionate about providing artisan, high-quality provisions to those vacationing in the area (they also have the only wifi hotspot for miles around - a great place to check email while you can!).
Venue: Cuffys Cove | Workshop by Erich Mcvey | Design & Styling: Ginny Au | Floral Design: Soil & Stem | Floral Design Assist: Tess Comrie | Paper and Calligraphy: Mon Voir | Table linens & rentals: 12th Table
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