As a born and raised Californian, I think that the biggest mistake that tourists and transplants make when taking the trip out to Los Angeles, in particular, is underestimating just how large it is. People envision Los Angeles like other major cities in the country, like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, but it's not, really. It's not as compact; "Los Angeles" consists of dozens of cities...all very spread out, and it's definitely the kind of place that requires a car (and often times a freeway or two) to get from point A to point B. I bring this up because I've discovered that Napa Valley is very much the same way (but on a slightly smaller scale, I imagine). There are tons of smaller towns and vineyards, hidden amongst the sprawling hills of grape vines that is considered, "Napa Valley". Everytime my husband and I visit, we discover a new area, a new winery, a new little town that we had no idea existed! It's a great area with lots of hidden treasures.
If I haven't mentioned it enough already, Dale and I definitely love our wine. Wine tasting is actually one of our favorite things to do! We went up to a wedding in Sonoma over the 4th of July, and while we were only able to squeeze in three wineries on our short weekend trip, we had a great time exploring the expansive area. We were talking about our trip the other day, and my husband actually gave me the idea for today's Picks on Paper (Thanks, babe ;) I know that I focus on wedding decor a lot for these weekly features, but I decided to mix it up this time and focus on wedding venues instead! There's nothing that I love more than a fab winery wedding, and the epicenter of the wine world is....Napa Valley, of course! So today, I took on the tough job of virtually exploring the Napa Valley to find my top five favorite potential wedding venue locations.
Picks on Paper - Napa Valley Wedding Venues
Beaulieu Garden is an absolutely gorgeous wedding venue in the Napa Valley. Really...I've seen this place in so many fantastic weddings, and never even knew it! It's a cliche, but this place is seriously where dreams are made of. It's quite a spot, if you have the dough to spend! Beaulieu Garden is located in Rutherford, California, which is north of Napa, nestled in between Yountville and St. Helena. The luxurious venue holds up to 375 guests seated outdoors, with catering provided exclusively by Paula LeDuc Fine Catering.
Voted "One of the Top 25 Romantic Getaways in the World" TRAVEL+LEISURE MAGAZINE, The Carneros Inn is a great spot if you're looking for a slightly more intimate venue with loads of charm. Surrounded by apple orchards and grape vines, the venue can hold up to 175 guests in an outdoor wedding ceremony, and up to 75 inside the Hilltop Dining Room.
Calistoga Ranch, Meadowood Napa Valley and Auberge du Soleil are a few more private, luxurious hotel venues in Napa Valley surrounded by oak trees, lakes, hills and streams. Meadowood has a sprawling lawn out in front of its cottage-style property that is ideal for weddings, Calistoga Ranch has an incredible front entry way (in image #3) with both indoor and outdoor venues, and Auberge du Soleil is well known for its amazing terrace overlooking miles and miles of vineyards.
Cornerstone Gardens is located between Napa and Sonoma counties, with nine acres of gardens for up to 300 guests. There are several ceremony and reception sites on the property, including the elegant Wedding Garden, the rustic Garden Barn and The Vineyard Lawn.
WINERIES. I knew it would be such a travesty if I didn't include at least one winery venue in my Picks! There are literally dozens, but here are some of my favorites...