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Russian River Vineyards is Classic Winery Wedding Delight

One of the top reasons to get married in Sonoma County is to celebrate at a winery, with its natural backdrop of grapevines. And rather than tucking guests away in a ballroom, the idea is to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, in the sunshine or by starlight.

At Russian River Vineyards in Forestville, there are lovely vineyards aplenty. But the beauty spans across landscaped grounds, gardens, a wooded area and a seasonal creek. Rural Sonoma County beckons in all its charms, with raised beds planted in all kinds of produce, orchards, chicken coops filled with clucking birds, and a wonderful winery dog named Chester.

The ceremony can be held amid the vines, or on the lawn next to the towering, historic wood winery structure. The reception can be held at the on-site restaurant, Corks, set in an 1890s farmhouse and framed with a lavishly landscaped patio surrounded by sculptures. The mood is classic old Sonoma, though a recent renovation brought updated elegance with dining room floors refurbished to their original white pine, French oak trim added, and new furniture (40 people max).

For the meal, it doesn’t get any fresher than what Corks chef Ruben Gomez can procure, since he simply step outside for whatever ingredients he needs from expansive new culinary gardens. Menus can be customized for any taste, though Wine Country cuisine is the preferred theme, for dishes like a goat cheese tart topped in Corks Farm chard and baby greens in za’atar dressing; a roast Chioggia and golden beet salad with cucumbers, carrots, pistachios, Redwood Hills feta and ginger champagne vinaigrette over kale-cabbage slaw; and braised rabbit sugo studded with porcinis and morels and finished in Korbel brandy, then ladled over handmade pasta with sugar peas, Full Belly Farm asparagus, Bellwether Farms ricotta, and Corks Farm baby greens.

This is also a good place for large events, since capacity easily welcomes 100 guests, seated indoors or out, and there is ample parking, including an overflow lot with a shuttle option. The winery’s event planner also can assist with live music, cake, and flowers.

While Russian River Vineyards is tucked away in the countryside, the location is still convenient for guests needing overnight accommodations. Right in Forestville, Farmhouse Inn impresses with a luxury, chic barn-style mood complete with a high-end spa, while Case Ranch in Inn is a gracious bed and breakfast in a pretty, historical Victorian home — besides guest rooms in the main home, there is a romantic honeymoon cottage with a spa tub and gas fireplace.

Just a few minutes west in Guerneville, meanwhile, the Applewood Inn is warm, welcoming, and a surprising value for the luxury. Set amid fruit orchards and featuring a brand new spa plus amenities like a swimming pool, the property offers seclusion and quiet, with an all-adult guest policy.

Details: Russian River Vineyards, 5700 Gravenstein Highway North, Forestville

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