Harmony, California is just minutes from Cambria but has a rich history all of its own. With a population said to be between 8 and 11, this tiny town on the Central Coast welcomes all visitors to its glassworks, winery, chapel and picture-perfect views. We were destined to include it in our series on towns with a population under 200.
I can’t tell you how many times Andy and I have driven by the sign for Harmony, California on our way to nearby Cambria on the Central Coast. We were intrigued by two things: its reported population of 11, and its tempting winery. So, when we decided to spend several days in Cambria, it seemed only fitting that we finally explore Harmony.
Harmony, California History
Harmony was founded in 1869, and it grew around the active dairy in town. While that might not sound like an exciting beginning, the early days saw feuds between the dairy farmers, a shooting death and an eventual truce. The truce in 1907 saw a flurry of activity and the growth of places like the feed store, post office, a school, the blacksmith and more.
The dairy was famous in the area, catching the attention of William Randolf Hearst as he traveled to the ranch/castle. With his interest came the interest of his famous friends also making their way to the castle in San Simeon.
Alas, the dairy moved to a bigger town, and Harmony declined. Most businesses closed except for the post office. There have been some starts and stops over the years to restore Harmony to its former glory. I can’t say that it’s a bustling center of activity now, but there are plenty of reasons to visit. And we can’t help but hope that great days are ahead.
Would you love to learn glassblowing techniques? You can learn with the best in Harmony at the Harmony Glassworks. If you’d prefer to admire rather than create, it is also a fantastic place to shop for vases, sculptures, jewelry and more. Andy bought me a lovely ring with shades of blue glass that is both delicate and bold. It’s one of my favorite pieces from our travels.
The Glassworks also stores the typical souvenir pieces, like sweatshirts and t-shirts. Yes, I have a t-shirt with the population sign on the front as proof of our journey.
You can feel the romance here, can’t you? If you want a ceremony and reception with a Western vibe (or a wine country theme to go with the Central Coast location), Harmony should definitely be in the running. You and your guests could stay in Cambria (which is about two minutes away) and come into the town for the celebrations. When you look at the photo, can’t you picture people spilling out of the chapel into the town for an outdoor reception? It’s a bit of a romantic notion, but if you are talking about weddings, romantic ideas seem fitting.
We first heard about Harmony Cellars when we were on our honeymoon in Paso Robles, California (it’s an easy drive). The owner of High Ridge Manor told us that we had to try their wine, so it had been in the back of our minds for the last two years.
I’m delighted we took his advice. It’s a charming place with a popular wine tasting room, ample outdoor seating (complete with bucolic views) and a great event space (there was a birthday party and another event on the weekend after we arrived). Also, it’s dog-friendly, so if you are traveling with your furry best friend, you can still enjoy this place.
Loads of foodstuffs can be bought here to pair with the wines, and there are many souvenir items for sale. The wine tastings are very popular, but they handle the volume with good humor. The winery has a club, and they do ship nationwide. They have twilight hours on Fridays during the summer, which combines charm and delicious pours. Their wines change all the time, but I was a fan of the dark berry goodness of the Petite Sirah and the chocolate/cherry notes of the Treble. They have whites and roses as well, but my heart (and taste buds) lean toward red wines.
So, if you find yourself going up Highway 1 toward Cambria, California, consider visiting the picture-perfect town of Harmony. You may find yourself tempted to return to this town of population 11 (or 8) again and again.