It’s a phenomenon that continues to grow: Barn venues are one of the hottest trends for nuptials in Wine Country — including Sonoma County — according to the national wedding activities association website theknot.com.
And why not? What’s more romantic and back-to-the-roots than a rustic wood structure on a farm estate, winery, or private hideaway set amid forests, meadows, or oceanside?
The heritage buildings can be dramatic and achingly lovely when dressed with long exposed-wood tables, glittery chandeliers, canning jar centerpieces of wild roses and whimsical touches like lace-wrapped troughs holding beer and wine on ice.
After the ceremony and supper, guests can kick off their shoes, dance on the grass under the stars, and celebrate a shabby-chic, luxury Wine Country time.
Cloverleaf Ranch, Santa Rosa
This charming, 160-acre ranch make a gorgeous setting for a wedding and reception, with views of oak-dotted hills and vineyards.
The barn, built in the mid-1800s, offers magical, rustic charm. A third-generation family-run business, the ranch is also a summer camp and riding school. Your guests can stay in the rustic camp cabins, or plan a trail ride or a day at the pool before or after your special event.
A variety of traditional camp activities are available to let your families and friends bond and get to know one another before or after your wedding celebration. There are more than 25 activities to choose from, which can also be a great way to celebrate for a bridal shower or bachelor/bachelorette gathering.
3892 Old Redwood Highway, Santa Rosa, 707-545-5906
Crane Melon Barn, Santa Rosa
This majestic 12-acre property is where the original Crane melons have been grown and sold for more than 80 years by six generations of the Crane family.
A Sonoma County landmark, the barn itself is built entirely out of redwood and was originally used for storing hay, horses, and livestock, but since the melons are only in season in September and October, it now opens its doors for weddings the rest of the year.
Guests can also admire Richard Crane’s on-site sculptures, made from recycled farm equipment and focusing on whimsical Wine Country wildlife depictions.
4935 Petaluma Hill Road, Santa Rosa, 707-795-6987
Olympia’s Valley, Petaluma
It doesn't get much more nostalgic than this — Olympia Nonella Tresch was 15 years old in 1905, when she came to Petaluma with her family in a horse-drawn springboard wagon. There were two Holstein dairy cows tied behind the coach and, today, the 2,000-acre farm still raises cows for premium milk, alongside organic apple orchards.
Now, Olympia's grandson, Joe Tresch, owns and operates the farm with his own family, opening it to weddings in the historic barn. Ceremonies can take place amid the more than 10,000 trees and native shrubs, or on a lawn overlooking the pond framed by weeping willows, with cocktail hour and reception for up to 200 guests hosted next to the 1865 Victorian home.
Brides and their wedding parties have access to private suites in the entire first floor of the home, while the groom and his party can enjoy a separate cottage with a full kitchen.
1051 Walker Road, Petaluma , 707-766-9251
Running Rabbit Ranch, Sonoma Valley/Santa Rosa
Set in the Valley of the Moon near Santa Rosa, pristine tiered vineyards and emerald lawns soar to a giant white barn, climbing gracefully up to a gabled black roof. The gated Wine Country garden estate brims with lavender and rose gardens, and forests.
Yet still, one of its most dramatic features is open space spanning to views out across Santa Rosa to the western mountain ranges that frame the Pacific Ocean and down the Sonoma Valley floor towards Kenwood.
This is a gentleman’s farm, certainly, meticulously maintained and manicured, framed by a Victorian gazebo and modern amenities including covered patio, built-in sound system, barbeque area, a large bar, and many different seating configurations both indoors and out.
281 Somerville Road, Santa Rosa, 707-508-5256
Thunderbird Ranch, Healdsburg
Create a memorable event in a captivating setting surrounded by century-old oak trees. You’ll have exclusive, private use of the ranch, with its manicured lawn and garden areas and its frontier town-type setting.
This working ranch (offering horseback riding lessons and trail rides) provides acres of ranch-style wooded scenery. It comes complete with a barn that’s more than 100 years old, a general store/saloon, and a railroad depot with two 1926 vintage railroad cars — a plush interior, limited edition, all-steel-construction Union Pacific dining car and an all-wood-construction North Western Pacific caboose.
You’ll have use of a shaded deck with a barbecue, picnic tables with attached benches, clean and well-stocked restrooms with showers, and designated sports areas (volleyball, horsehoes, ping pong, and a playground). Two parking attendants for two hours are included with the venue rental. Available May to mid-October, for up to 250 guests.
9455 Highway 128, Healdsburg, 707-433-3729
Of course, there are so many great venues in Sonoma County, it's always hard to keep a list of five at five. With that in mind, here are two bonus offerings:
DeTurk Round Barn, Santa Rosa
Nestled in Santa Rosa’s charming and historic West End neighborhood, the stunning DeTurk Round Barn is among California’s oldest truly round buildings, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Isaac DeTurk, one of the county’s first wine owners, built the barn in 1891 as a horse stable for his prize-winning stallion, and his other horses.
Today the round barn is owned by the City of Santa Rosa, which renovated it in 2011, installing a caterer’s kitchen, an elevator, accessible restrooms, and a top-of-the-line audio visual system. Rentals include the use of talbes, chairs, a podium, and redwood wine barrel bars. DeTurk Round Barn is the only truly round buidling that is open to the public.
819 Donahue St., Santa Rosa, 707-543-3285
Kenwood Ranch of Sonoma, Kenwood
The heart of this event center is the 100-year-old restored barn, where the Silver Bullet bar is ready to serve your guests a refreshing glass of chardonnay. The grounds are covered with Boston ivy and climbing red roses.
Follow the meandering walkways and you’ll discover wagon wheels, Italian split rail fencing, and a garden of dwarf fruit trees with bistro lighting. There’s also a beautiful ceremony arch, country bridal quarters for bridal prep, a 20x40 white tent for cocktails or dining, and shaded seating areas.
The ranch can accommodate up to 300 guests, with onsite parking.
9250 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-833-5611
For even more options check our listings of Unique Wedding Venues in Sonoma County.
Need help planning your wedding? Sonoma County Tourism offers complimentary wedding assistance here.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet