Wine Country Wedding DestinationWords by Anthony Stein
Traveling to a place like Sonoma County brings an abundance of anticipation. The wine, the beauty and the landscape are world renowned. Whether going for your wedding, honeymoon or simply a romantic getaway, Sonoma delivers. With more major airline carriers now flying direct, there are new opportunities and ideas in this richly cultured wine country wedding destination.
One example of this is Cornerstone Sonoma, a Sunset Magazine garden and marketplace with on-site boutique shops, a variety of unique ceremony sites, event spaces and, of course, a winery right next door to make planning a destination wedding simple and stress-free.
As you make your way into the Sonoma Valley, a short drive north of San Francisco, one can see why it’s one of the most visited wine regions in the world. Couples have many options when choosing a space or winery in which to tie the knot. When asked what makes Sonoma Valley so unique, Birgitt Vaughan, Public Relations Manager for Sonoma County Tourism, says, “Sonoma County offers more than 425 wineries, romantic vineyards and breathtaking Pacific Ocean beaches.”
Kunde Family Winery provides a magical setting atop Boot Hill, a place straight out of a dream. You can host an entire event under massive majestic oak trees, which look to have been plucked right out of a painting, with 360-degree views of the valley and vineyard.
Staying at the romantic Kenwood Inn and Spa, A Four Sisters Inn, pulls the stress right out of you. This 29-room boutique hotel is nestled in the valley like your own hideaway. Its lush gardens and fountain areas are perfect for intimate moments with your soon-to-be partner in life.
Food options abound with restaurants like Glen Ellen Star in the small town of Glen Ellen, which serves what could be the best clam chowder on the planet. Healdsburg has a multitude of vibrant boutique restaurants and facilities like Barndiva with its high-end food, adjacent wine barn and wedding facilities. Just off Highway 101, you can feast at one of America’s first farm-to-fork restaurants – John Ash & Co. – parked on property at the amazing Vintners Inn. This hotel is a go-to as it can host grand weddings while providing romantic wine country flare.
Exploring the region is part of the adventure. Within a quick scenic drive, you can be on the coast watching the waves crash at Goat Rock Beach, hiking in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve observing the local wildlife or contemplating the sheer size of the area’s largest redwood trees. Near Guerneville, you will find one of the most unique and new types of places to stay. AutoCamp features luxury Airstreams and high-end tent camping. Making your way back into the valley you should certainly stay and eat at Farmhouse Inn and Spa. This recently renovated boutique hotel takes country-chic to another level with their on-site master sommelier.
Finding the right place to say “I do” in a destination like Sonoma County, where everything is breathtaking, makes scouting even more exciting as you narrow your choices. St. Francis Vineyards and Winery has a stunning setting and all the facilities for a magnificent event. Nearby Landmark Vineyards, with its Spanish revival architecture, has rich history forged by the John Deere family or maybe Paradise Ridge Winery is the place for you, with views overlooking the Russian River Valley. The options seem to be endless and you are bound to find the place that is meant for you and your special someone.
The people and places in Sonoma County provide couples the feeling of a second home where you can come and celebrate one of the greatest days of your lives. Each place you find has its own unique story of how it got there. It easily makes you think, “Maybe I should move here.” It’s that inviting! Mrs. Vaughan goes on to say, “Sonoma County has award-winning restaurants, majestic redwood forests, relaxing resorts, paired with world-class wine, beer and spirits and abundant sunshine. Last but not least, this wine country favorite is just 45 minutes away from San Francisco.”
No matter what your intentions are in this bountiful region, you are certain to find a place that is romantic, scenic, relaxed and full of wine.
Note: Sonoma County was affected by the devastating California wildfires in the fall of 2017, but the vendors and venues are back in business and better than ever.
Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Sonoma County Tourism (1st, 5th & 11th), Four Sisters Inns (2nd & 9th-10th), Farmhouse Inn (3rd, 4th & 7th-8th), Aubrie Pick (6th).
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