Say your vows amid incredible vineyard vistas,
enjoy fantastic wine and unwind at a luxury resort or rustic lodge.
GETTING MARRIED IN WINE COUNTRY DURING COVID-19
California’s Wine Country best known for its irresistible Cabernet Sauvignon and idyllic vistas that evoke charms of iconic vineyards of Italy and France. It is also screaming romance. It is usually teeming with visitors this time of year, but COVID-19 has sliced the numbers of tourists and newlyweds flocking there. However, you can have a wedding to remember even if it is just you and your favorite person plus a couple of friends. Many beautiful wineries and restaurants have re-opened now, but they are working with 25% capacity and with safety restrictions in place. All of them are open for outdoor service only, which leaves you plenty of options for a wedding amid the sprawling vineyards and dining under the stars.
Wedding venues in the Wine Country are now focusing on elopements and mini weddings. How to tie the knot during the COVID pandemic? As long as you follow physical distancing procedures, you can enjoy incredible views and fantastic wine. A combination of elopement and an online wedding is the most practical solution. You can host an intimate outdoor ceremony and invite your family and friends to attend the event via live stream.
If you don’t want to delay your wedding ceremony and reception for legal or other reasons, then you can do a COVID-safe elopement by following the new guidelines:
For more information and COVID-19 updates, visit the website page of CaliforniaDepartment of Public Health and keep an eye on recommendations for visiting Napa and Sonoma here: https://www.visitnapavalley.com/coronavirus/ and https://www.sonoma.com/sonoma-county-businesses-who-is-open-and-closed/
WHEN TO ELOPE
Because it never snows in the Wine Country, any time of year is perfect for outdoor ceremonies and photoshoots. You can capture the most beautiful sunsets and natural landscapes in spring. The rolling vineyards are bright green plus there are carpets of flowers everywhere. The weather is super-pleasant in early spring, late summer and early autumn. Autumn weddings are very popular because the grapes are ripe and it is harvest time while the natural color palette ranges from vibrant orange to yellow and golden brown. Winter is the low season due to cold weather, but this doesn’t mean weddings can’t be very romantic. This is the time of year when you can bag the best prices and still enjoy an outdoor ceremony (with a warm jacket over your wedding dress)plus a cozy weekend of wine tasting, fine dining and unwinding at spas.
PRO TIP: the most popular months to elope in Napa or Sonoma are March to May and August to October.
THE BEST PHOTOSHOOT LOCATIONS
An hour drive from San Francisco, Napa Valley and Sonoma County are two most famous wine regions where planning elopement is a no-brainer because there are so many gorgeous venues and dream-like photo backdrops. While Napa is renowned for its elegant estates and grandiose tasting rooms, Sonoma feels a tad more intimate and romantic. Due to coronavirus, however, you’ll have a more personalized experience at both destinations. The best elopement destinations in the Wine Country are small wineries, inns, boutique resorts and deluxe cottages adjacent to the vineyards. Here are some of my favorite shoot locations:
Castello di Amorosa reminiscences the beauty of Italy’s enchanting wine regions because the castle has been shipped from Tuscany and makes a centerpiece of Napa Valley.
Matanzas Creek Winery in Santa Rosa has endless fields of purple lavender blooms and oozes French countryside vibes.
Sterling Vineyards is perched on a hilltop above Calistoga and offers panoramic views of the sprawling green vineyards.
Caymus Vineyards provides postcard-like backdrops in autumn months with leaves dyed in vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange.
Ferrari-Carano Winery comprises five acres of gardens are boasting over 10,000 tulips and daffodils are flanked with waterfalls, fish ponds and beautiful bronzed sculptures.
Artesa Winery is perfect if you want to capture some of the best vistas of Napa Valley and make epic photos in front of intriguing water features and outdoor sculptures.
Armstrong Redwoods in Guerneville feels like a true fairytale with misty waterfalls surrounded by lush greenery and flowers.
Riverfront Regional Park is one of the favorite photoshoot locations in Sonoma County because of its beautiful river banks and pathways.
Taylor Mountain boasts ancient oak trees, open grasslands and never-ending pathways which make this location ideal for daytime and sunset photoshoots.
From January to March, the mustard fields all over Sonoma are covered with vibrant yellow blossoms which make a fantastic backdrop for your wedding photos.
HARVEST INN, ST HELENA
Harvest Inn is a beautiful 8-acre resort with scenic outdoor locations for photoshoots and incredible alfresco dining areas. It is popular for large weddings too, but their elopement packages are amazing because they include everything from welcome baskets and a bottle of the delightful Domaine Chandon to a $100 credit at the restaurant and a delicious breakfast delivered to your room.
PERFECT FOR: couples who looking for great all-inclusive deals
MEADOW WOOD, ST HELENA
Surrounded by the misty woodlands, Meadow Wood feels idyllic and secluded. It is ideal for romantic elopements and intimate outdoor celebrations. If you decide to elope here, you’ll get a two-night stay in a luxury private suite, a marriage officiant, wedding flowers and a reception pack that includes champagne, canapes and a wedding cake. You’ll also enjoy a complimentary breakfast and a spa treatment.
PERFECT FOR: couples who appreciate privacy
FARMHOUSE INN, FORESTVILLE
Farmhouse Inn is a stylish, rustic retreat in the Russian River Wine Country with a three-star restaurant, cozy accommodation and great elopement deals. In addition to all the wedding essentials such as your bridal bouquet and celebrant, you’ll get a welcome wine and cheese, a wedding cake from the local bakery and a fantastic four-course dinner comprising gourmet dishes perfectly paired with wine.
PERFECT FOR: couples who want a superior wine tasting and fine dining experience
INN AT OCCIDENTAL, OCCIDENTAL
Set amid the majestic redwoods of Sonoma County, Inn at Occidental is quaint and uniquely decorated. Each room at the inn is different featuring rustic pieces such as large fireplaces, deep bathtubs and antique furniture. Book your elopement to get a package which includes a two-night stay and a beautiful garden ceremony plus an artisan cheese platter, a bottle of excellent Pinot Noir, a gift basket, wedding flowers from a local florist, a mini wedding cake and a bottle of premium champagne.
PERFECT FOR: couples who want romantic atmosphere and cozy accommodation
MILLIKEN CREEK INN & SPA, NAPA
Milliken Creek Inn & Spa is a newly refurbished five-star hotel that ticks all the boxes: intimate setting, great food and wine plus deluxe bedrooms with marble bathrooms and forest views. You’ll be greeted with rose petals, champagne and chocolate in your room, while the ceremony package includes everything from a decorated outdoor venue to celebrant, wedding menu and a complimentary breakfast.
PERFECT FOR: couples who want a luxury experience
MACARTHUR PLACE, SONOMA
MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa is Sonoma’s hidden gem where you’ll have all in one: extraordinary food and wine, plush accommodation and intimate outdoor ceremony locations. It is a majestic estate where you’ll be close to Sonoma’s best photoshoot locations. Elopement packages include premiere accommodation for two, private access to ceremony and photoshoot locations, service of an officiate, bouquet and boutonnieres made of seasonal flowers and a mini wedding cake. A special bonus is a sparkling wine and chocolate dipped strawberries delivered to your room.
PERFECT FOR: couples who want a combination of modern luxury and rustic appeal
Located in the picturesque town of Calistoga, Solage will give you the real flavor of Napa Valley, its premiere wines, gourmet food and unique experiences such as ot air balloon rides, olive oil tastings and wine paired dining. It is close to Napa’s most famous wineries which makes it the perfect base to explore the region, while the resort itself boasts amazing open-air locations for photo sessions, ceremonies and receptions.
PERFECT FOR: couples who want a full wine tasting experience
ANNANDEL ESTATE WINERY, SANTA ROSA
Surrounded by incredible vistas, Annandel Estate is a boutique wine producer and an intimate venue offering photogenic outdoor locations along with its boutique wine and artisan food. There are three elopement packages available each including celebrant, beach chairs, wedding blooms and champagne. Every couple also gets a complimentary bottle of Annandel Estate wine and a cheese and charcuterie board. Couples who invite a larger group of guests (10-20 guests) will also get a wedding cake and a wedding coordinator.
PERFECT FOR: couples who want a unique intimate experience
MADRONA MANOR, HEALDSBURG
Historic manor house is set on a grand estate in one of the most beautiful corners of Sonoma County. Elopements here are extraordinary because Victorian architecture, colorful gardens and a citrus grove provide one-of-a-kind photo backdrops. Facility
fee includes everything from tables, chairs and linens to menus prepared by Michelin starred chef and wedding coordination services (if you need them for your elopement).
PERFECT FOR: couples who want a unique intimate experience