So you’re planning a wedding – congratulations! – and your dream location is the Napa Valley. The first thing you should know is that most local wineries are not allowed to host weddings. In 1989, the Winery Definition Ordinance (WDO) was created to protect agricultural lands by clearly specifying what sorts of activities were and were not permitted on winery properties. The good news is that a few wineries were "grandfathered" in due to their pre-regulatory status. So consider these winery venues, all located in St. Helena, as you plan your big day.
Beringer Vineyards has an array of beautiful and functional spaces for groups of all sizes, including the historic Rhine House, Hudson House, and Old Winery. There are also beautiful picnic grounds, a bocce ball court, historic caves, and a culinary center, surrounded by Beringer vineyards.
Merryvale Vineyards is best known for its Historic Cask Room, with two stories of century-old 2,000 gallon casks lining the stone walls. Receptions begin in the tasting cellar with passed hors d'oeuvres. Then candles are lit, lights are lowered, music begins, and the drapes are pulled aside to reveal an enchanting dining hall reminiscent of majestic Old World winemaking estates. The room can accommodate groups of up to 112.
V. Sattui Winery is a small family winery founded in 1885. Its complex of stone buildings creates a romantic setting reminiscent of French and Italian wine estates, and it’s surrounded by manicured gardens, lawns, giant oak trees and 35 acres of vineyards. Indoor and outdoor venues include the Barrel Cellar (seats 250), the Gold Room (seats 14), the Lower Courtyard (250 for a reception), Vittorio’s Terrace (seats 32), Vittorio’s Vineyard Lawn (seats 250), and Vittorio’s Picnic Area (100 for a reception).
Charles Krug Winery was named one of the "best wedding venues in Napa Valley" by Food & Wine magazine. Its wedding options include the restored 1881 Carriage House and Great Room (which can accommodate 250 on each of two floors), and the Great Lawn (up to 700 guests) – a leafy, park-like garden wrapped in vineyards.
Brasswood Estate is a unique wine and food destination – a village-like complex that offers several indoor and outdoor venues for gatherings of all sizes. These include the Vintner’s Den, the Winemaker’s Den, the Courtyard, Restaurant, Trellis, Bakery, and Gallery.
If you’re not wedded to the idea of a winery celebration, here are another few options in St. Helena.
The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone is a spectacular landmark stone building constructed in 1889 and operated by the Christian Brothers from 1945 to 1989. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. With grand cathedral ceilings and massive hand-cut stone walls, its Cask Room offers a stunning indoor venue. Or the terraced amphitheater creates the perfect backdrop for any outdoor ceremony. Their interior space is in the cover photo.
Two Birds/One Stone restaurant is located in the historic Freemark Abbey winery complex and features California-inspired yakitori cuisine by chefs Sang Yoon and Douglas Keane. The private dining room seats up to 48 guests and offers floor-to-ceiling glass doors, natural sunlight, wood tables, and a courtyard with strand lighting and fountain. The main dining room features high ceilings with a skylight, metal beams, stone walls, and beautiful windows and can accommodate up to 150 seated guests. The patio, which can seat up to 38, is a perfect pre-function space offering an extensive outdoor lounge area with a fireplace, built-in grill, and bar with full liquor license.
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