May 2, 2012

Visit to Domaine Carneros – relax with sparkling wines in Napa

Photo via

I don’t know about you but bubbles make me happy, giddy almost! Especially sitting in the sun, with wide sweeping views of Napa Valley, and the most amazingly yummy (and rather large!) cheese plate. Domaine Carneros is one of my most favorite places to sneak off to after a long day of meetings in the valley and allows me to re-create this simple but wonderful experience every time I visit. They are one of the wineries that are open a bit later (they close at 6pm) and the stunning Chateau has this wrap around terrace that seems to go for miles. You can find me at a table near the vines, with a glass of their pretty pink Brut Rosé in hand, cheese plate very close by. The service lends itself to being on the relaxed side, with a wait staff that engages with you as a friend instead of a just another customer.

Domaine Carneros features many different varietals. My favorite, their sparkling wine, is made in the classic manner, “méthode champenoise”. So why is it not called champagne? In theory, champagne comes from the Champagne region of France, and if the grapes are not grown in that area, they are unable to be recognized as champagne. In the 1930’s the U.S. failed to sign a labeling agreement limiting the use of the word “champagne” to wines from the Champagne region, so some American wineries do utilize this description, but typically you will find sparkling wines to be the majority in the U.S.

Other varietals they produce are Pinot Noir, a Merlot, and every now and then a Chardonnay. My two favs are the Brut Rosé and the Avant-Garde Pinot Noir. The Brut Rose tastes like strawberries and roses without any sticky sweet flavors, the characteristics of the Brut comes in and makes it incredibly refreshing. The Avant-Garde Pinot’s flavors take me to dark chocolate, cherries, and raspberries. Yum!

There are multiple event spaces at the Chateau for small dinners and parties but the space is not available for weddings. So after a long day, make sure to stop by and relax and truly enjoy yourself!

Photo via by Craig Lee

Photo via


April 25, 2012

Planning a Spring wedding in Wine Country

Spring showers might bring lovely May flowers, but in wine country Spring can create a few things – a bit more rain, but off-season prices – for couples to think about as they plan their big day. Here are some topics to be mindful of while planning…

1) Rain: An outdoor ceremony or reception could see some rain in the earlier months of March or April throughout most of Northern California’s wine valleys. Carmel Valley is your best bet for early Spring weddings as this valley sees more than 300 days of sunshine a year. You should get quotes for a tent and potentially tent heaters as a back up rain plan (check with your venue to see if they have a tent you can use instead of renting). Also you may want to look at outdoor heaters if there is no rain but the temperature drops.

Photo via Terra Galleria

2) Scenery: Something to remember about vines in wine country is that they go dormant in winter, meaning they lose all of their lush green leaves, and have only brown rootstock. In early spring, the vines are just barely starting to turn green with leaves, however, as in the photo, the mustard seed plant in spring is especially pretty and adds a lovely yellow pop to vineyards that have planted it. Understanding what the vines will look like during your Spring wedding is especially important if you did a site visit in summer or fall and are imagining lush vineyards as your wedding backdrop. Also in the fall, certain grape varietals can have their leaves turn yellow or red, something else to be mindful of color scheme wise.

3) Rates and 2 night minimums: Prior to mid-April, most of the valleys tend to be in their off wedding season which means a great cost savings with regard to site fees, hotel rooms and 2 night minimum stays for your guests.

I hope this helped give you a bit of insight with Spring wedding planning. Please drop me a line if you have any questions about great venues for Springtime affairs!