John Alden: An Inspired Estate
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
CLOVERDALE — Between his past livelihoods as an agricultural engineer and a real estate broker, John Alden has a pretty impressive professional resumé. However, one credential he never imagined he’d add is owner-operator of a wedding venue. “Not in a million years did I expect to be doing this,” he laughs. “It was sort of a coincidence, really. After living in Carmel for several years, I decided to move north of the Bay Area to be closer to my family’s timber and vineyard properties.
There was a property I’d driven by many times—over the years, I watched it be developed and go into foreclosure. By the time I purchased it, it had been abandoned for six years. It just so happened that in addition to a home and acreage, the property came with an unfinished wedding venue.
“After I remodeled the house and fixed up the property, I thought I may as well finish the wedding venue,” he continues. “I didn’t have any big plans for it—it was just a project I did for fun. When it was finished, I offered it to some wedding planners to use. In 2016, we had two weddings, and in 2019, we had 48. So, it has definitely become a much bigger venture than I ever anticipated.”
Today, as managing member of Mountain House Estate, John says his favorite part of his job is helping couples have the perfect day. “When I was working in real estate, I helped people get their dream homes, and today I help couples get their dream weddings. When a bride gives me a big hug and says it was the best day ever, that’s a very rewarding feeling.”
A resident of Cloverdale (where he lives with his partner, Lane), John spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “I’m one of those people who likes to stay busy,” he says. “I have a commercial-grade machine shop and a woodworking shop on my property, so I have spaces to pursue my personal hobbies like restoring hot rods and doing building projects. I also enjoy gardening.”
Speaking with John, it’s evident that Mountain House Estate is less a business venture than an extension of his creative expression and ingenuity. “A lot of my hobbies are tied to the venue,” he affirms. “I’m always coming up with new ideas to make it better, whether that’s building custom light fixtures, bringing in new plants or putting up a wood archway. I get to build all these cool things and they add a unique feel to the venue because they’re one-of-a-kind. People are always amazed at the little touches around the property, and it’s like, ‘Well, that was something I just did for fun.’ At the end of the day, I guess that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s not about money or achieving success—it’s just something I enjoy.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Both. I keep farmer’s hours—I’m up before dawn and I go to bed after dark.
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect vintage hubcaps, especially of car brands that no longer exist. My collection is displayed on the barn by the oak tree terrace on the property.
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Papa’s Pizza Café in Cloverdale. It’s owned by the former mayor of the town. We’ve actually had their pizza delivered for a wedding before. It takes a lot of pizzas to feed 150 wedding guests!
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Anything with chocolate.
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