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Catelli’s Brings New Glamour to Wine Country Weddings

Couples looking for a big city, sophisticated Sonoma County wedding might not usually look to Geyserville. The rural town has a population of about 2,100, and a tiny downtown that stretches from the fire station to the Hope-Merrill & Hope-Bosworth Bed & Breakfast Inns just 0.3 miles away.

Yet with the opening of a new patio at Catelli's restaurant, weddings can be as glamorous as anyone could dream, sparked with elaborate décor, dancing, live music, and picture perfect Wine Country photo backdrops.

It’s a dramatic change for the quiet, pastoral-mood Catelli’s, which replaced the rustic-sophisticated Santi restaurant in 2010, taking back the lease on the building the family has owned for nearly 80 years. A popular feature of Santi was a small, raised bed culinary garden banking the trellised, weathered wood patio out back.

The new space includes a brand new garden, outdoor bar and separate restroom building, in a scope large even for nice wineries. The patio alone spans 3,500 square feet and holds up to 150 people; the adjacent garden spans another 3,500 square feet, with gravel paths framed by flowers, bushes and trees.

Yet it was an obvious move, says chef and co-owner Domenica Catelli, since Geyserville boasts such a prime wine country location for weddings and corporate activities, yet has limited facilities to cater to large groups.

At the heart of the transformation is the circular patio floor done in an elaborate swirl of Italian, black-and-white checkerboard marble, designed by some Catelli family friends who own Form Interior Design in Los Angeles. On a recent evening, the Catellis set up the patio to look like a wedding, staged with round tables, gold painted chairs, gold and white fabrics, and elaborate flower arrangements designed by Dominica’s mother and Santa Rosa florist Antoinette Sepulveda.

But first, guests at the event gave their cars to valets, who whisked the vehicles away to a new lot behind the restaurant, freeing up the town’s two-lane main street for traffic. Then they entered though a wood archway into the garden, receiving their table name tags hand-calligraphed in gold on white cards. A portable bar offered J Sparkling and a signature lemon verbena cocktail, servers circulated with small bites, and a duo of violinists serenaded the guests who were mingling and sitting at bistro tables.

As guests moved to the patio for dinner, a Catelli staffer pointed out the wide staircase framed by olive trees – indeed, it would make a dramatic entrance for a bride. Then, people gathered around the new, permanent bar attached to the restaurant, for more drinks. Done in sleek white and black marble capped with a metal roof and set with hot coral and white bistro chairs, it looks quite Italian Riviera.

As a multi-course, wine paired supper was served (including Catelli’s famous wild mushroom lasagna), a DJ mixed tunes beneath a coral-colored scalloped umbrella.

After the meal, the crowd retreated back to the garden, where couches and fire pits had been set up for more drinks, and dessert.

Amid the spectacle, guests sneaked off to ooh and aah at the restrooms, in a building added to the historic brick structure that was the family’s original Catelli's the Rex restaurant. Current co-owner Nicholas Catelli invited people to linger and enjoy, through a front lobby, into a long hallway trimmed in faux reptile skin wallpaper, and into three retreats glittering in floor-to-ceiling black and white herringbone marble, accented with gray and white marble floors, and ornate, oversized mirrors.

Now, the only thing missing is overnight accommodations. But lovely lodges exist just steps away, at Geyserville Inn, elegant, robin’s egg blue retreat featuring a luxury bridal/honeymoon suite. Another delightful stay can be had at the quaint Hope-Merrill House bed and breakfast, where each room is done in a custom décor with elaborate, hand painted and silkscreened wallpapers.

Details: Catelli’s, 21047 Geyserville Ave. (at Highway 128), Geyserville.
Geyserville Inn, 21714 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville.
Hope-Merrill House, 21253 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville.

Planning a wedding? Get complimentary wedding assistance from Sonoma County Tourism.

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