7 Restaurants for Rehearsal Dinners in Wine Country
The wedding ceremony usually takes the spotlight, but as any engaged couple knows, the rehearsal dinner is where it first begins to shine. Sonoma County restaurants are ready to make that first official gathering of friends and family nearly as remarkable as the big day.
Stuffy ballrooms or stodgy banquet spaces are out, celebrate in unique, inspired spaces. Need help planning your Sonoma Wine Country wedding? Check out our wedding guide.
Whatever you choose, you can select from sumptuous menus where seasonality shines in the ingredient. For years Barndiva has explored the extraordinary food-sheds of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties seeking out farmers and artisan producers who believe as they do that truly nourishing food experiences start in the soil, the vineyard, the field; that great plates of food must reflect the passion of all who produce them. 231 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-431-0100
Vintners Resort, Santa Rosa
At the Vintners Resort in Santa Rosa, guests are welcomed by a stunning, 35-foot tall, European-style structure of natural stone, set in a fountain courtyard framed by manicured gardens and flowers. There are other beautiful venues on the sprawling property, too, such as a vineyard gazebo, the John Ash & Co. restaurant, River Vine restaurant, and intimate courtyard or terrace spaces. Any or all make a memorable rehearsal dinner space, for small groups, meetings with up to 300, and receptions for up to 500 guests.
Custom menus from chef Thomas Schmidt reflect his passion for authentic Sonoma County wine country cuisine, with delights procured from more than 30 Sonoma County farmers and food producers, plus the restaurant's own on-site fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens. Seasonal bites might include roasted spring asparagus with a poached farm egg, pancetta, and crispy shallots in truffle honey vinaigrette; and Petaluma Poultry Rocky boneless chicken griddled under a brick then plated with creamed corn and leeks, la ratte potatoes, and Hobbs' bacon. 4350 Barnes Road, Santa Rosa, 707-566-2604
Put a regional Italian twist on the festivities with the grand old historic Marshall House Victorian mansion in old town Santa Rosa. Owners and husband-and-wife Marco Diana and Karin Hoehne use recipes drawing from Milano in the north to Sicily in the south, for dishes like seared ahi with home-made ravioli in almond sauce; Sardinian semolina gnocchi with porcini and slowly braised beef; or roasted breast of duck served with sautéed spinach and fingerling potatoes. Enjoy al fresco flair on the porch overlooking the fountain garden framed in flowering trees, and larger parties are welcome to take over the entire restaurant space. at Ca'Bianca. 835 Second St., Santa Rosa, 707-542-5800
With the opening of the new patio in 2014, parties can be as glamorous as anyone could dream, sparked with elaborate décor like the circular floor done in a swirl of Italian black-and-white-checkerboard marble. The space at Catelli's includes a garden, outdoor bar, and separate restroom building, and plenty of room for dancing, live music, and picture-perfect Wine Country photo backdrops.
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. Add in delicious history, too, since the Catelli family has owned the property for nearly 80 years, and still draws raves for their luscious, authentic, Italian dishes like hearty minestrone, baby beet salad with prosciutto, and wild mushroom lasagna. Details: 21047 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville, 707-857-3471
Located in a historic stone building tucked away about a block north of the Sonoma Plaza, this romantic Italian "country inn" style restaurant features glass-walled dining rooms overlooking a lovely Italian garden with reflection pool, a Tuscan-style pergola, a dancing terrace, an outdoor stone fireplace, and a private bar. A perfect setting for groups from 20 to 150.
Chef Michael Ghilarducci and his wife Gia opened the Depot Hotel Restaurant in 1985, followed by their cooking school in 1987. Their son, Chef Antonio Ghilarducci, became executive chef in 2014, after honing his skills at some of Northern California best restaurants, include La Folie, The French Laundry, Redd, and El Dorado Kitchen. The seasonal menus feature rustic Italian cuisine with fresh Wine Country style.
Brewsters Beer Garden
Brewsters Beer Garden was built for people that want more than just a good meal when they eat, they want a dining experience. Located in the historic district of downtown Petaluma, here you can enjoy a laid back, fun evening with your friends and family. The cuisine is focused on technique driven dishes influenced by Southern Carolina BBQ and a smattering of locally sourced and sustainably raised Petaluma producers and ranchers. Brewsters also offers an array of over 30 revolving local craft beers on draft, Sonoma and Napa Valley wine, and a full selection of spirits and cocktails.
The open-air dining space compliments the food perfectly, as guests are treated to outdoor seating in a historic setting, with the comforts of large heat lamps, fire pit, bocce court, children’s playground, and live music stage. The garden space is available for semi-private events or a fully private buyout. 229 Water St North, Petaluma, CA 94952, 707-981-8330
Sally Tomatoes at SOMO Village
Sally Tomatoes offers five event spaces, each with its own unique character and all are equipped with everything you might need for your indoor or outdoor celebration. Meals and libations are easily taken care of with their full-service catering and a full bar offering.
With menus full of delicious and eclectic options, from fresh Caprese salad to plum chipotle pork tenderloin to cold poached salmon with saffron sauce, you can choose exactly what you’d like for your gathering. Sally Tomatoes offers family style, buffet, and plated service to give you flexible options to match the celebration you’re envisioning. 1100 Valley House Dr, Rohnert Park, CA, 707-665-9472
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Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.