The Best Wedding Venues in Napa Valley and Sonoma

V. Sattui Winery
Photo: © Ken Viale

The northern California wine country of Napa and Sonoma counties offer some of America's most romantic wedding locations; these picture-perfect wine country estates have everything from dramatic mountain views to century-old stone cellars, lush gardens, and manicured luxury resorts. Here, there's something for everyone, whether your taste skews to the rustic, the formal, or anything in between. — Richard Nalley

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Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford

Auberge du Soleil
Courtesy of Auberge du Soleil

One of Napa Valley's iconic luxury resorts, Auberge is tucked away in a mountainside olive grove and can accommodate weddings of up to 120 people. Its perch offers some of the area's most spectacular views, and on-site venues include an outdoor terrace. Other draws include the posh accommodations and Michelin-starred dining under the auspices of executive chef Robert Curry, which contribute to making Auberge one of the Valley's upscale visitor magnets. Bonus: The resort's wedding planner will arrange a special late night venue for your after-party, based on a slate of choices.

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Beringer Vineyards, St. Helena

© Beringer Vineyards

Founded in 1876, this is Napa Valley's oldest continuously operating winery, and its ornate, turreted Rhine House is one of the valley's most notable sights. The manicured grounds and complex of buildings offer multiple venues for weddings and special events, including the Fermentation Room in the old winery, The Grove, with its century-old redwood trees, and, for something more intimate, the high-ceilinged old wine caves that run under Spring Mountain.

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Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma

Buena Vista Winery
© Buena Vista Winery

With a colorful history dating back to 1857, Buena Vista is California's oldest winery, and its stonework and manicured grounds have been lovingly restored under its well-heeled owner, French wine magnate Jean-Charles Boisset. Weddings for up to 200 guests take place in the evenings on the outdoor Fountain Courtyard in front of the renovated 19th-century Champagne Cellars.

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Chalk Hill Estates Vineyard & Winery, Healdsburg

Chalk Hill Estate
Courtesy of Chalk Hill Estate

The Foley family's well-regarded contemporary winery occupies pride of place in this 1,300-acre estate in the Mayacamas Mountains foothills, which is also home to gardens, stables, an Olympic-sized riding arena, woods and ponds. The soaring, glass-walled Estate Pavilion — with its 21-foot-tall limestone fireplace — is a spectacular all-weather venue (and opens to an expansive terrace). People planning weddings in the warmer months may want to explore more nature-oriented options, however, like Chalk Hill Ridge Park on the property's highest elevation, surrounded by 500-year-old oaks and bay trees.

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Charles Krug Winery, St. Helena

Charles Krug Winery
© Annie Hall Photography

One of a handful of grandfathered-in Napa producers that are allowed to host weddings, this valley-floor winery dates back to 1861. Its wedding packages include use of the winery's guest house as well as three handsome event venues, which can be booked separately or in combination. The Great Lawn is the spot for a big (up to 800 people) al fresco event. The Carriage House — built in 1881 to house Mrs. Krug's horses and carriages — is a beautifully renovated indoor space for up to 250, with soaring, redwood ceilings. The spruced-up 1872 Redwood Cellar, showcasing the winery's Reserve Barrel Room, is offered for rehearsal dinners or other satellite events.

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Chateau St. Jean, Kenwood

Chateau St. Jean
© Clane Gessel Photography

One of the pioneers of the Sonoma Valley wine renaissance, St. Jean is one of the Valley's most frequented tourist destinations, thanks to its combination of praise-worthy wine, gorgeous gardens and setting, and its graceful, hacienda-style 1920s "chateau." The winery's emphasis on visitor hospitality shades over into its event-ready wedding offerings, which include attractive "get-ready" rooms and a range of garden venues that take advantage of the chateau's well-tended grounds and natural setting.

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Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena & Napa

Culinary Institute of America
© Cailtlin O'Reilly Photography

The CIA's West coast campus now includes two impressive landmark buildings, the massive 1888 Greystone — a former monastery and winery — on the main campus, and the modern Copia food center on the Napa River. This is a case where there are so many possible venues, scaled to different-sized events and personal tastes—like candle-lit tables in the old stone cellars — that it is probably worth visiting beforehand to scout out the options, though the event staff is set up to help you with just that. And it's the CIA, so rest assured they've got the food and wine end covered.

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Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Boyes Hot Springs

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn
Courtesy of Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

This sprawling luxury resort and spa makes a fine home base for a destination wedding, with plenty to keep guests entertained between events, from massages to tennis courts to nearby winery visits. The resort itself offers several indoor and outdoor venues for the ceremony and reception, including off-site settings in the surrounding wine country. Wedding planning is a well-versed team effort here, coordinated by the event and culinary staffs. With the top-end Platinum Package you are assigned your own wedding concierge.

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Farmhouse Inn, Forestville

Farmhouse Inn
© Farmhouse Inn

One of wine country's most romantic, high-end small inns, the Farmhouse Inn specializes in "Tiny Weddings" and elopements, for around six guests (consult them about larger events). If personal-scale is your aim, look into the offerings here. The family owners — fifth generation Sonomans — put a lot of care and energy into this leafy, hidden-away property, which includes a Michelin-starred restaurant, an ultra-insider's wine program (including the resort's own winery), and luxury accommodations.

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Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, St. Helena

Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
© Megan Clouse

The Hall family's extensive farming and vineyard operations — the four substantial properties include a sprawling, showcase organic vineyard, olive groves and Highland cattle farm high in the Mayacamas Mountains above Napa Valley — underlie both the estate-produced food and drink here, as well as the all-local spirit of their Farmstead restaurant and event site on the valley floor. Weddings for up to 300 at the Farmstead take place either outside, with a view onto the vineyards, or inside the airy, rustic-chic restaurant. A specialty: banquet meals cooked over live fire.

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Ru's Farm, Healdsburg

Healdsburg Country Gardens
© Dennis Dizon

There are many things to recommend this bucolic venue as a wedding location including a tranquil vineyard and gardens, a 1902 barn, and a signature cork oak tree. There are also two well-appointed farm cottages for stay-overs. The owners are networked in to wedding-oriented Sonoma chefs, caterers and vendors.

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Jack London State Park, Glen Ellen

Jack London State Park
© Christina McNeill

One of Sonoma County's loveliest spots is the park centered around author Jack London's home and barns. Worth a visit anytime, it is also a very popular wedding and reception site for those who don't mind a little roughing it (portable toilets) and additional planning (lights must be brought in) in the service of romance. The top venue here is in the ruined foundations of an old stone winery next to London's house, with wonderful views of Sonoma Mountain, with vine rows by daylight and and an air of old world elegance when lit by night.

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Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Sonoma

Gundlach Bundschu Winery
© Brian MacStay Photography

Six generations of the Bundschu family have made wine here at the home Rhinefarm vineyard has been around since 1858, and the current crop of family members at "Gun Bun" have made the venerable winery a fun, laid-back destination for wine tourism. It's also a magnet for weddings of up to 150 people (their events team even offers "proposal packages" and engagement shoots). The Rhinefarm's 320 rolling, Sonoma Valley acres are famously scenic, and the historic stone winery and its caves offer romantic backdrops as well.

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Kunde Family Winery, Kenwood

Kunde Family Winery
© Kunde Family Winery

Since 1904 the Kunde family has overseen this sprawling, 1,850-acre property in Sonoma's scenic Valley of the Moon. The property features a wealth of attractive wedding and reception spots, from the panoramic promontory of Boot Hill to the VIP Dining Room in the 32,000-square-foot wine caves. The hospitality staff can also help you mix and match the spots; for instance, a wedding under the 150-year-old olive trees on Olive Hill, then a reception at the intimate Hill House.

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Merryvale Vineyards, St. Helena

Merryvale Vineyards
© Merryvale Vineyards

One of a handful of Napa wineries grandfathered-in for wedding events, family-owned Merryvale offers a genuine wine country experience you'd be hard pressed to duplicate outside of a grand European wine estate. Its historic Cask Room is a soaring, stone-walled space, lit by candles and lined with two-story-high stacks of 2,000-gallon oak casks. No small bonus: Merryvale's typically delicious and reasonably priced wine.

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The Napa Valley Wine Train, Napa

Napa Valley Wine Train
Courtesy of the Napa Valley Wine Train

For something completely different: A ceremony where the landscape outside keeps changing. The Napa Valley Wine Train runs on a 36-mile round trip between the town of Napa and St. Helena along the main wine road of Highway 29 (which was built later, alongside the 1864 railway). The operators' idea is to evoke the posh age of rail travel, with restored vintage cars fitted out with etched glass partitions, brass and mahogany accents and velveteen upholstery. The event planners can help you choose the right car or combination of cars (for the ceremony and reception, say). There is, for example, the Champagne Vista Dome, an elevated observation car, and various dining and lounge cars.

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Sbragia Family Vineyards, Geyserville

Sbragia Family Vineyards, Geyserville
© Jennifer Bagwell Photography

Sbragia is a family-owned, ultra-premium winery with breathtaking views over the northern Dry Creek Valley. Its weddings and events are handled by the Milestone Events Group, which provides comprehensive planning-to-post-wedding services. Milestone works with several notable wineries, but Sbragia stands out for its handsome, contemporary architecture, superlative wine and those terrace views.

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V. Sattui Winery, St. Helena

V. Sattui Winery
© Ken Viale

A Napa Valley winery with impressive rustic Italianate architecture, lush surroundings, and hidden gardens, V. Sattui understandably does a thriving wedding trade. Between April and October, Michelin-starred chef Stefano Masanti — between seasons at his own restaurant in the Italian Alps — presides over the cuisine, including a complimentary Chef's Table tasting for the bride and groom to assist in selecting their menu. The rest of the year Sattui's staff works with local caterers.

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