Savoring Wine, Vines & Love
By: Kristen Castillo
Friends and family, a beautiful venue and a glass of wine in hand. For many couples, that’s the perfect wedding.
Whether or not you love wine, a winery wedding could be ideal. With great weather, rich landscapes and lots of room to celebrate, wineries and their accompanying vineyards can be very inviting.
“Not only are wine country weddings absolutely stunning and picturesque, they have such a relaxed feel,” says Jaime Purinton, events sales manager at Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula. “They are perfect for that couple that wants a gorgeous wedding but wants their guests to feel like they are welcome.”
Read on as we introduce you to some of the best winery experiences in the San Diego and Temecula region.
LORIMAR VINEYARDS AND WINERY
Opened in May 2012, this 22-acre Temecula estate is family owned and home to grape vines and citrus groves.
“It’s a serene and tranquil environment,” says Patrick McIlvain, general manager of Lorimar Vineyards and Winery. “It’s truly an escape from the day to day.”
The winery can host weddings small and large. Intimate weddings are suitable for the Parlour Room, which fits up to 60 guests; or in the barrel for up to 175 guests. Larger events with up to 200 guests are typically held in the vineyard, which includes a built-in arbor; or on the sunset patio, which accommodates up to 200.
“Our sunset patio overlooks rolling hills and mauve sunset colors shining through,” says McIlvain.
Lorimar offers walk-through wine tours and a stomping station where you and your guests can jump in a barrel and pretend to stomp grapes, à la Lucille Ball in “I Love Lucy.”
The winery takes customer service and attention to detail very seriously.
“We create a calm ambiance so you can relax on your big day,” says McIlvain, noting brides get ready for the wedding in a bridal suite, while grooms prepare in a decked out RV complete with foosball, recliners and a fridge, among other amenities.
WIENS FAMILY CELLARS
Known for its “Big Reds” red wines, Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula is family owned.
For an indoor ceremony and reception, the Event Pavilion hosts weddings with up to 250 guests. For something more intimate, consider the barrel room – it has American and French oak barrels and can accommodate 100 guests for a ceremony and cocktail hour or 50 guests for a seated reception.
“Our Barrel Room is a jaw dropping space to use for a wedding,” says Purinton. “Many guests gasp when they walk in for the first time.”
The Vineyard View ceremony and reception site backs up to the vines and is perfect for outdoor weddings with fewer than 200 guests. There’s also a Mountain View Amphitheater and Patio which features a rustic arbor and seats up to 300 guests.
“We also are big fans of the Farm-to-Table movement and use as many local farms as possible for our food,” says Purinton.
The winery’s extensive menu includes free-range chicken breast, New York strip steak, wild salmon and gourmet mac and five-cheese pasta.
Nestled on a 1500-foot hill, Falkner Winery in Temecula has what owner Loretta Falkner calls, “Panoramic hilltop views of vineyards, mountains and painted sunsets.”
The winery, which is 25 acres, has both an indoor and an outdoor wedding venue. The Yard-Garden Package, which has sunset and vineyard views, offers a ceremony and reception in romantic tree-lit Yard-Garden area adjacent to the tasting room.
There’s also the option to marry in a vineyard pathway, followed by a reception inside in the private Pinnacle restaurant. The candlelit barrel room is another ceremony or reception option.
“We’re all about good customer service,” says Falkner, who notes her owner involvement keeps her in-the-know about wedding and events on property.
The winery has a solid reputation as a leader in the region.
“Eighty-five percent of all our wines have won awards,” says Falkner. “We’re a boutique quality winery. We pride ourselves on really good food and wine.”
Opened in 2011, Europa Village can accommodate up to 200 guests.
“We offer an old-world feel,” says the venue’s Lisa Ferguson. “It’s just beautiful. You feel like you’re in a small town in Europe. It’s an intimate feeling.”
Like many wineries in the Southern California region, Europa Village gets brides and grooms from the surrounding areas like San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles and Arizona.
“We love sitting with the bride and groom and creating a custom menu,” says Ferguson. “We design something that’s uniquely theirs.”
Europa Village has many photo opportunities, such as the vines, the C’est La Vie tasting room, the cave, which has an Italian feel, and near a vintage wine cart from the 1800’s.
“You and your guests can stay on-site at the Inn at Europa, which has 10 rooms. “It’s homey and comfortable,” says Ferguson.
MONTE DE ORO WINERY
Open for nearly three years, Monte de Oro Winery has a 10,000 square foot patio overlooking the Temecula valley.
“You can have that gorgeous vineyard feel for half the cost of Napa,” says Kelly Harris, the venue’s event sales and catering manager.
The patio space seats 400 guests; the barrel room fits 300 people; and the tasting room can accommodate 160 guests for a seated dinner.
Receptions in the main tasting room have a great view too. “Even when you’re inside, you feel like you’re outside because it’s so beautiful,” says Harris.
Another great feature of the tasting room is the 16 x 16 glass floor, which is often used as a dance floor.
Grab your photographer and head outside for some breathtaking photos. “We go into the vineyard with the bride and groom and they get some amazing shots,” Harris says, noting the orange groves next to the vineyard also make for pretty pics.
Adventurous couples may want to pose for photos in the venue’s rectangular fountain.
“I’ve had couples get in the fountain,” says Harris. “It’s a gorgeous photo opportunity that ends up being pretty neat.”
DESTINATION WINE COUNTRY WEDDINGS
Destination Wine Country Weddings helps brides and grooms coordinate destination weddings in Temecula’s wine country.
“Brides want a destination wedding,” says Sheri Proskow of Destination Wine Country Weddings. “It’s a romantic winery. How can you not want romance?”
Destination Wine Country Weddings offers a one-stop-shopping approach to help brides and grooms coordinate weddings at a variety of venues in the Temecula area, including private estates, villas and wineries.
“The vineyards are a big draw,” says Troy Buck, a photographer who works with Destination Wine Country Weddings. “Just about anywhere you go is rolling hills or vineyards.”
Couples and their guests love the charm of the region. “There are a lot of antique and historical buildings here. It’s fantastic, “ says Proskow. “This area is amazing.”
Wherever you host your winery wedding, consider exploring the vino theme. You can arrange your place cards in cork holders, give guests custom labeled bottles of your venue’s wine and invoke the romance of wine colors like grape and deep burgundy. Cheers to you and your groom!