Price of Guerneville landmark lowered to $6.5 million; owners plan to retire to Italy's wine country

The historic Applewood Inn tucked within the hills of Guerneville is back on the market after a winter break, and the owners have dropped their price to $6.5 million because they want to be living in Italy's wine country before cold weather returns.

"We thought we'd lower the price and attract some more interest. Our goal is to be in Italy this winter," said Jim Caron, who owns the inn with partner Darryl Notter.

The men had the Mission revival inn on the market during the last three months of 2003 for $7.75 million.

"We got quite a bit of response. But the price wasn't there," Caron said.

Two decades ago Notter and Caron were looking for a Russian River-area home, found the historic Belden house and launched an adventure as innkeepers.

"We've put our heart and souls in this, but we're looking to the next thing," Notter said.

For $6.5 million, you can have a 19-room inn that now is much more than the original Julia Morgan-designed home. There are two other villas and a barn-inspired building that houses the inn's well regarded restaurant. They surround a courtyard with fountains and Mediterranean landscaping. A pool and spa, gardens, orchards and redwoods fill out the six-acre property.

Over nearly two decades, Notter, a former interior designer and public relations consultant, and Caron, a longtime grocery store manager, transformed a cozy bed and breakfast into a Wine Country getaway.

Still more could be done, including expanding a cooking school they launched a year ago in the Belden house and hosting weddings and special events on the grounds. But they are leaving those possibilities to the next owners.

"We will have this done and then arrivederci," Caron said of what the partners hope is a swift time on the market.

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