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The Estate by the Elderberries
Château du Sureau

48688 Victoria Lane
Oakhurst, CA. 93644
Phone: 559-683-6860
Fax: 559-683-0800
Email: chateau@chateausureau.com
www.chateausureau.com

Marie Antoinette Would Kick Back Here

By Rubin Carson

If poor Marie Antoinette had had the luck to visit Yosemite, she'd have kicked back at du Sureau in Oakhurst. Not only would she have saved her neck, she'd never desire to see drafty old Versailles again. Erna Kubin-Clanin has created a fairy tale enclave 18 miles from the south entrance to one of the world's great nature treasures. What Yosemite does for spiritual seekers, Château du Sureau accomplishes for devotees of drop-dead European elegance.

Think Merchant Ivory films of period-picture fame (Howard's End, The Remains of the Day). Imagine a hidden away manor on a nine-acre hill surrounded by elderberry bushes, glorious views of the Sierra Nevada, and nighttime skies bursting with stars. After check-in, a maid in 18th century garb knocks at your door. She enters and presents a pot of orange-spice tea, cheeses, and strawberries. Exiting, she points to a tin of freshly baked almond pockets and Kugelhopf on a Louis XVI table (Kugelhopf are miniature bunt cakes wrapped in sliver-thin wax paper and have been butter fixes for Hapsburgs since forever).

Estate by the Elderberries consists of Erna Elderberry House Restaurant, Hotel Château du Sureau with ten guest rooms, one Villa Sureau-a two-bedroom private guest residence with 24-hour butler service and matching private forest. Every square inch of everything is appointed with objects d'art that Erna selected from annual trips to Europe and Asia. Each antique reflects a highly individualistic.
Guest rooms have spacious bathrooms with shower and tub, silk terry-lined robes, and eiderdown comforters. Outside are views of reflecting pools, garden paths that squirm through elderberry bushes, and a whimsical giant concrete chess set - perhaps waiting for Big Foot.

Twenty years ago, during Erna's first year, Craig Claiborne of The New York Times stopped by. He wrote a review calling this mountain woman's prix-fixe, six-course meal one of the best dining experiences in America. It still blows gourmets away, featuring red lentil crusted Thai snapper, ragout of white veal, Sonoma duck confit, and double baked chocolate cheesecake. When the above is paired with choice California wines, you're more than happy to flop down on that eiderdown refuge.

For those desiring to explore Yosemite, guides take you rock climbing, river rafting, fly-fishing, and horseback riding. There's a jeep available for solo trips to enjoy Bass Lake, mountain splendor, evergreen forests, and blazing sunsets.

Just one caveat: Don't get spooked if you hear a regal French voice following wherever you go saying: "Let them eat Kugelhopf!"

(Updated: 06/24/08 HC)


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