Napa/Sonoma Venues...Planning from 2500 miles away!

First of all, where is everyone? Isn't Napa a popular place for weddings, come on people!

Secondly, I grew up in the Bay Area (Half Moon Bay) and am hoping to get married at some vineyard/winery in the Napa area in August 2011. FI and I have made lists of places that we want to visit the next time we're home (currently stationed in Alabama) but I want to see who has experiences they can share?! Even if you just visited, I need a better way to narrow down our list.

Here's some of our top picks so far, in no particular order...

Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga
The Carneros Inn, Napa
Sebastiani Vineyards, Sonoma
Hans Fahden Winery, Calistoga
Cornerstone, Sonoma
Cline Cellars, Sonoma
Testa Rosa Winery, Los Gatos
Silverado Resort, Napa
Carmel Valley Ranch, Carmel

See my problem? lol, TIA!


Re: Napa/Sonoma Venues...Planning from 2500 miles away!

  • jwheatie12jwheatie12 member
    edited December 2011

    We Just went up to wine country last weekend, and I've visited some of these at other times, here are my thoughts:

    Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga  - Beautiful, full of themselves

    The Carneros Inn, Napa -  Really like this place, don't know about ceremony venues

    Hans Fahden Winery, Calistoga - Nice price, nice venue, probably won't pick it as we want to eat outside

    Cornerstone, Sonoma - We just saw this place.  I LIKED it, but there was a smell of cow poop the second time we were there.  It was very windy that day, that might be why.  If you could deal with the risk of that, it's one of the more interesting venues, worth a visit.  Cool barn.  Looks better than in the photos.  Fun.

    Testa Rosa Winery, Los Gatos - Not a big fan.  Cheezy photos on the walls.

    The place we loved was...drumroll please... Kunde Vineyards.  Beautiful, classy, Boot Hill was great, the "Ruins" are amazing.  Pricey, but not compared to some of the sites you have on your list.  Check it out.

  • edited December 2011
    jwheatie12: i've been to Kunde....SOOO pretty!  i went on a tasting there and thought it was beautiful.  they have like a pond there, right??  maybe you can put floating candles in there!!!
    misscarolb:  not sure what your budget is, but Solage in Calistoga is gorgeous.  also, artesia in sonoma. 

    i am looking in healdsburg this weekend.  but i want more of a rustic scene.  any recs?
  • edited December 2011
    Reese, both of those are very modern...I like it!

    My parents are being very generous but, since FI's family isn't pitching in, our budget has to cover everything from the rehearsal to the honeymoon. That being said I'm trying to keep our ceremony/reception around 20K and we'll have about 80 guests.

    I'm not very picky about most things; I want pretty scenery and good food. The flowers, dress, and other details aren't as important. So a huge majority of that 20K can go to the facility fee & catering.

    Hope that makes sense!
  • edited December 2011
    i gotcha...thats so nice of your parents!  we havent had "the talk" yet with our parents....but i know how much i want to spend on the entire wedding - so regardless of what they give us it will be what it will be!

    oh...just thought of another beautiful place!  Viansa!!  my very good friend just booked her wedding there for next April.  its GORGEOUS!  check it out!  GL!
  • edited December 2011
    Hans Fahden is amazing!!  We are getting married there in early September and I couldn't be more happy with the entire proces thus far.  The owner Antone is very involved in the process and there is a definite family feel when dealing with the staff there.  We are also on a budget of around $20,000 and we have saved a lot by being flexible with the smaller details.  The site is so beautiful that decorating is a non-issue.  All I really have to do is get flowers for my wedding party, 2 arrangements for atop the wine barrels we get married between and some flower petals for the tables during the reception.  Hans Fahden supplies chairs, parasols for the guests, tables and chairs for the reception, lighting and looks beautiful without much added at all!!  I would definitely check it out!

  • edited December 2011
    Thanks girls for all your help! We're going to be narrowing down our list over the next few days then FI is off to some Army school and will be completely MIA for about 3 weeks and then its venue visting time!

  • edited December 2011
    This string is so helpful!!  I also live in Alabama and we are planning a Napa wedding -- sometimes I think we're CRAZY, but I can't imagine getting married anywhere else (we moved to Huntsville from the Bay Area).

    Please keep us posted on how your venue search goes.  I'm going through the same process at the moment.  I think we're going out in June to look at venues, how stressful!

    It's funny though, because the venues here in Huntsville are actually booking up faster than those in Napa!  Geez!

    Good luck and happy hunting! :)
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  • edited December 2011
    adinges: you're lucky to be in Hunstville, I would kill to be anywhere but lower Alabama right now!

    We're going out in June to look too! It's the only time FI can get off before X-mas and he doesn't want to miss out on venue I hear there's wine ;)

    Which places are you looking at? Have you picked a wedding date yet?
  • peter.bernicepeter.bernice member
    edited December 2011
    Hiiii All ;)

    I'm from Chicago and planning over here too. things weren't too bad planning from here. If it helps, here are some of my vendors that i chose after my trip there in March.

    Venue: Viansa Winery!!
    Officiant: Reverent Tim Mills 
    Florist: Lavendar Florist with Josette
    Photographer: Jeremy Lawson (from Chicago), but he will travel to Napa and is amazing.  You could also check out Jenny Elwick who is super sweet and talented. She's also pretty inexpensive
    Makeup: SOnia Roselli - Voted Chicago's Best Makeup Artist. Will also travel to Napa and is absolutely amazing!! This is probably the most exciting of vendors!

    Hope this helps! :) Let me know how everything goes!

    Bernice :)
  • edited December 2011
    It's just been such a headache for me ... I can't find one place that has everything I want.

     I love Kunde, but it's beer/wine only and, like many places, requires music to be turned off by 10 pm.  That's kind of frustrating, considering our friends and families are coming in from all over the US and we can't have an open bar, and they've gotta be out by 10.

    ANYWAY!  These are some places I like so far:
    Kunde Vineyards
    Barndiva (Healdsburg)
    Harvest Inn (St. Helena)
    Bardessono (Yountville)

    If anyone has insight on any of these, I'd appreciate advice!

    And yes, Huntsville is lovely :)  I do love it here, but Napa just means more to us.  Maybe we'll see you out there in June, haha!
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  • peter.bernicepeter.bernice member
    edited December 2011
    OoOo i just saw you all are going in June! I am too! What days are you all going?? :)
  • edited December 2011
    June 9-13!  How about you??
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  • edited December 2011
    FI and I are headed out June 2-13. adinges I haven't heard of some of those, I'll have to look them up!

    peter.bernice: We have Viansa on our list but from what I can tell (from the website) it looks like the only ceremony sites are either in the courtyard or wine cave. Do you know if they have more of and outdoor space, overlooking the vineyard or something? Because if not, we're going to have to cut them from the list! Thanks.
  • edited December 2011
    We will be getting married at Churchill Manor in Napa. It is beautiful!
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  • jwheatie12jwheatie12 member
    edited December 2011
    just wanted to quickly mention a few other venues I've researched lately:

    the White Barn (at Oak Hill Farm, in Glen Ellen)

    Stryker Sonoma (Geyserville)

    Chateau Felice (Healdsburg)
  • peter.bernicepeter.bernice member
    edited December 2011
    Hiii Ladies :)

    Awww I'll miss you all! I'm going from June 17-23!

    Misscarolb - Viansa actually allows you to get married in their lawn area, which is what I completely prefer also. That's where we'll be getting married versus the courthyard. It's a really pretty space! I would definitely check it out :) it was so hard finding a place that had the vineyard views that wasn't super expensive!

    Are you all checking places out in June? some other places i loved, but didn't have a chance to visit was BR Cohn, Paradise Ridge, and Cornerstone Gardens. All have vineyard views, but BR Cohn and COrnerstone Gardens were just out of our budget! And Paradise Ridge didn't have enough outdoor space.
  • edited December 2011
    adinges:  i was really frustrated by the 10 pm cut of as well, initially.  i'm from the east coast and weddings are usually at night - starting around thats what i had in my head.  but after thinking it over....i realized that starting earlier really wouldnt be the worst idea.
    it is SO beautiful in northern california - why spend the majority of your time at a beautiful vineyard in the dark??  you know?
    we havent officially booked our place yet, but we are 90% going to book it.  we'll have our ceremony from 3:30-4.  Cocktail Hour from 4-5.  Reception from 5-10.  then we'll just have an after party back at the hotel bar.  this way - all of our OOT guests can really enjoy the beautiful views.
  • jwheatie12jwheatie12 member
    edited December 2011
    Reese511 -   Which venue are you going with??  I'm dying to know : )  Viansa?  Now you guys have me intrigued about Viansa...
  • edited December 2011
    mine is called Calegari Vineyards.  its family owned and they dont even make their own wine (i dont think) - they  just grow the grapes.  its gorgeous!!!  my good friend is doing Viansa - otherwise i totally would have considered it....
  • peter.bernicepeter.bernice member
    edited December 2011
    Awww fun! :) I'm sure Calegari Vineyards will be beautiful! Do you all have your vendors booked yet?

    Do you mind sharing who you're using? I still have to book my DJ and Cake people. :)

    If you girls are looking for the bestest makeup artist let me know! :)

  • edited December 2011
    unforch, i dont have anything booked yet!  our date isnt until NEXT september.  we will hopefully book our venue by the end of this month and then i can actually start booking other things.  but i pretty much know everything i want.

    FI wants a band - not sure how we'll swing that....TBD.  so i dont have any DJ info.

    Cake - my good friend is Korean and had this AMAZING cake at her wedding.  she calls it "Asian" clue what that means except that the people that make it are Asian.  i am going to use who she used - i think it was her friend and they are located in SF...i'm pretty sure its called AA Bakery or AAA or something.  this cake was light and fluffy and SO delicious.  (unlike American cake - which IMO is very dense and heavy)
  • peter.bernicepeter.bernice member
    edited December 2011
    thanks for the recommendation :) you're so ahead of schedule! Are you narrowing down the search then?  What do you have planned when you visit? :)

    i think i know what your friend is talking about in regards to "asian" cake. it's more of a sponge cake right? i'm chinese & i think we have similar cakes :)

    Good luck picking your venue! I was pretty discouraged on finding the perfect place too with of course the "perfect price". I'm sure you'll find the one!!! :) Keep us updated!
  • edited December 2011
    yes!  its just like sponge cake!  i absolutely LOVED it.  it was the best wedding cake i've ever tasted!

    we'll hopefully go look at at least 1 or 2 more places this weekend - i still have to narrow it down.  i was thinking of checking out Paradise Ridge too!!

    but we REALLY love Calegari and we are pretty certain we want to have it there.  we are really just looking at others to solidify our know?  it is really difficult b/c there are SO many...and they each have different restrictions.  but i'm sure we'll figure it out...i dont want to think too much into it.  i'm just going to go w/ my gut.

    its crazy b/c i am realizing that i picked a somewhat popular date (september 10, 2011) - apparently things are booking up already b/c it is 3 consecutive numbers: 9.10.11.......ahhhhh!  i think i need to start moving a bit quicker.  =/

    oh!  and to your other post...i dont need a make up person b/c my BFF is a make up artist - but do you have a hair person in Napa/Sonoma??

    i'll keep you posted tho!  thanks for the encouragement!!
  • edited December 2011
    reese:  Yeah, I finally came around too!  I figured if we can do it somewhere like Kunde and start a bit earlier (start wedding around 3:30-4) then I'd be okay with it.

    AND, big step for me, I just hired a wedding planner!  Alicia K Designs out of SF/Oakland, she does a lot of weddings

    We have appointments to go to:
    BR Cohn
    V Sattui

    and hopefully more!  I'll report back afterwards :)
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  • edited December 2011
    OOOOOO.....cant wait to hear about it!!!  =)  take pics!!
  • edited December 2011
    Hi all...

    I'm a little late to start posting, but I am planning a November 2010 wedding for Napa and can share some insight into vendors. Here is what I decided to go with:

    Venue:  Charles Krug Winery in St Helena.  They can do the ceremony and reception, and it's absolutely gorgeous.  It's where they filmed A Walk in the Clouds, if that tells you anything.  Patty and Aine there are great to work with too.  They only do 12 weddings per year, so you need to be on it.

    Caterer:  Preferred Sonoma Catering.  Edie and Amber were great, the food was delicious, and the price was reasonable.  They do rentals too, which is nice to not have to deal with it.

    Flowers:  Lavender Floral.  The prices are awesome compared to the majority that I found in wine country, and her quality if unbelievable!  I would highly recommend Josette.  She only does one wedding per day, and works out of her house.

    Cake: Sweet on Cake.  Amber is on the Food Network and does incredible work.  They taste amazing too!

    Photographer:  Fresh Focuses  Ronnie is great!  She really worked with our timeline and how we wanted the day to go.

    Amore Limo:  Most reasonable I found in Napa.

    All of these vendors are very responsive and easy to work with, which was the most important thing I was looking for when planning from a distance.  I hope this helps!!
  • edited December 2011
    Sooo .... which other couple from Alabama was at BR Cohn on Wednesday??  We went there on Thursday and they said they had worked with you the day before!

    What a crazy trip ... our flight was canceled the night before we left (at 11 pm!) so we missed ALL of our venue appointments on Wednesday.  Anyway ...

    After looking at Brix Restaurant, V. Sattui Winery, BR Cohn, Cornerstone Gardens and Kunde ... I think we are going with Kunde!  They all have something very different to offer, however at the end of the day, we decided to have it at a working winery, and it's important to us that Kunde is family owned and sustainable.

    Something our planner really emphasized, which is totally accurate, is that Sonoma has *many* more lodging options.  We have people traveling in from across the world really, and we'll need options all the way from budget to uber-fancy :)

    Hope you all are having a great time with your venue searches!
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  • edited December 2011
    adinges...that was us! small world :)

    We absolutely loved Kunde as well but haven't decided...BR Cohn is also high on our list. When is your wedding? I hope you don't steal a Saturday at Kunde from us ;) JK

  • edited December 2011
    We're still throwing around some dates ... we're actually doing ours on a Sunday to help stay within the budget, plus almost everyone is traveling in from out of state.

    BR Cohn was our 2nd choice, for sure.  I'd be totally happy to have it at either one!  I loved the people at both places, too.  Very accomodating and sweet.  The BR Cohn staff also invited us back to check out the setup for a Saturday wedding (but we ran out of time!)
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  • peter.bernicepeter.bernice member
    edited December 2011
    How exciting everyone!! :)

    I didn't get to check out BR Cohn, but definitely wanted to! to be honest, i would have totally looked into more if it wasn't so expensive. i told the event coordinator there that i had approximately a $20,000 budget and she said it wasn't possible :T sad...but i am totally thrilled and happy we picked Viansa though! :)  i highly suggest visiting there if you haven't already!

    thanks for all the suggestions everyone! we're going with lavander florist also! Josette is extremely organized, knows what she's talking about, and really willing to work with your budget. 

    i'm still having a hard time choosing a DJ..for some reason i'm dreading it. any suggestions out there?

    GOod luck everyone!! keep sharing..i love hearing what everyone chooses!  If anyone is interested my makeup artist (sonia roselli) and photographer (jeremy lawson) are amazing! they're both in chicago, but travel to Napa. both known as the best in chicago. :) let me know!

    Bernice :)
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