Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Wine Country 101 part two

Alright, I know that last post was pretty wordy, so let's get to some photos!

Last week I joined the Bay Area Wedding Network on a limited-seating bus tour of some great, relatively unknown venues of the Sonoma and Napa valleys. It was quite a treat! I got to meet (and re meet) a bunch of fabulous wedding planners/ coordinators, visit some fantastic venues, and was treated to a delicious lunch and wine tasting!

I didn't take many photos, as I was focused on talking with other vendors and enjoying myself. We started off the day at Wine Valley Catering in Napa, who are fantastic, totally on it and really fun to work with. They have some exclusivity with many of wine country's top venues, so they organized this tour for us!

It started off at this little B&B which is just starting to do weddings. It is quite the find, with lodging, a few different gorgeous ceremony and reception options overlooking fields of grapes and hills, and is just outside of Yountville. It's called the End of Money Road Bed and Breakfast seeing as how it's at the end of Money Road. Clever, huh? Anyway, it was rustic but just beautiful (hmm, I need more synonyms here...).

Next we went to Cline Cellars in Sonoma - another great location, with tons of options for ceremonies and receptions. They had a great big lawn, a barrel room which can be decorated for a very "wine country" feel, a private guesthouse that none of us wanted to leave, EVER, and more. I'd definitely recommend this one, and they have a great staff to take care of you. They're also opening an event-dedicated site right across the street from their current location, any day now! It's called Jacuzzi (for the Italian family name, not the tub).

After Cline, we visited Sebastiani with a quick tour of their ever-expanding wedding options, and then were treated to a yummy buffet and tasting. My favorite was the Secolo, but I left there with a free bottle of the Chardonnay, so it's hard to complain!

After lunch, we did NOT get time for a nap (which was about all I wanted to do), but instead hustled along to Beltane Ranch, one of my absolute favorite B&Bs in the area (maybe the world?). It's in Glen Ellen, right up from Highway 12, but quiet and peaceful beyond belief. They have an amazing garden, wonderful house and rooms, and during a wedding it is just indescribably beautiful. I haven't had the luck to shoot there yet (they do a very limited amount per year) but my aunt and uncle where married there in the late 90s and it was a great day for our whole family. They were recently featured in Budget Travel, and I am definitely going to make Devon take me there this summer for a night or two of unwinding.

We finished off the trip at Kenwood Farms and Gardens. It was hard to get a feel for them since they are under construction, getting things ready for (I think) fall of 2007. But it's another great location, worth checking out when it's all finished.

Phew! On top of those fantastic locations, I got some networking in there (okay, so it was more like chatting and laughing) and here are some of my absolutely favorite vendors from the day:

Janel Watkins "At Your Service" Event Staffing. She was a total riot and before I knew it, I was talking about my cats, housecleaning (her tip for productive cleaning was "two things: 80s music, on vinyl if you can, and champagne!"), and who knows what. She saw a need in her line of work (catering/ serving) and decided to fill the gap - so she created At Your Service, which is sort of like a temp/ matchmaking service for servers and caterers. I'm hoping to bump into her at a wedding soon!

Christine at Ribbon and Tie wedding planning. Christine and I just had a chance to speak briefly but her gorgeous business cards stood out, so we're planning to meet up for lunch in June. She focuses on a lot of international visitors who want to get married in Wine Country and San Francisco, and speaks three languages! I'm hoping she can help me refresh my French...

I got to re meet Marie Rios, who is a firecracker of a wedding planner! Her company, Creative Occasions, has a motto: "Be a guest at your own wedding", that I just love. THAT is the kind of attitude you want your planner to have for sure! I'm hoping we'll have a chance to get together soon - we kept getting in trouble for talking at the event last week!

Finally, I loved talking with Jewel from Savadelis Films. Jewel had been in the business world until her photographer husband decided he wanted to switch to video and do weddings, and have her on board. They put a LOT of care and attention into each wedding, and I can tell that they have a wonderful attitude and sensibility. Jewel was able to look at me and intuit certain things about my photographic style and personality within minutes of meeting me, and I basically wish I could hire her to represent me (but I'll settle for meeting for tea someday).

Anyway, it was a great day, but here I go with the verbosity again - so how about some photos instead?

These are all from the End of Money Road:

More soon!

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