By NANCY BAUER
Fire pits, cigar bars, photo booths – each generation of starry-eyed lovers ties the knot a little differently, and the current crop goes for less pomp, more play.
Bridal couples are opting out of churches and formal, seated dinners, and wineries have emerged as one of the new go-to spots for out-of-the-box weddings. Sunset ceremonies overlooking the vineyard are followed by
Bridal couples are opting out of churches and formal, seated dinners, and wineries have emerged as one of the new go-to spots for out-of-the-box weddings.
receptions that flow with personality, like “toasting” with marshmallows over an open fire, or hiring sommeliers to lead vintage wine tastings or wine-pairing dinners.
Even for the simplest weddings, during spring’s bud break or fall’s grape harvest, no other venue can match the rustic romance, the views, and the sense of renewal and rebirth of a wedding among the vines.
The three wineries featured here can fill up a year in advance, so plan ahead. And if your first choice is already booked, keep looking: Virginia has nearly 90 wineries that want to help you say “I do.”
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
5022 Plank Road, North Garden; 434-202-8063
“I’m sorry, I just need one more,” says the lady with the point-and-shoot. She’s blocking the doorway of The Granary, Pippin Hill’s striking event space – part barn, part cathedral, and packed with charm. “Every time I come, I take pictures and email them to my daughter. I tell her she really needs to get married here.”
Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards, a few miles south of Charlottesville, just opened in 2011, but it’s destined to become the belle of the wedding planner’s ball in central Virginia – and the favorite of bride’s moms everywhere. The venue is pricey – facility rentals start at $5,000 – but it was designed with parties in mind, and weddings in particular. The bride and her retinue lounge in the dedicated Bridal Loft while guests sip wine in the Tasting Room or watch the sunset from the Veranda – a Tuscan-inspired stone terrace that can be strung with twinkling candle lanterns. The ceremony site is backed by Blue Ridge views, and The Granary is large enough for 200 people to dine, with room left over for a dance floor.
Artisan Catering is Pippin Hill’s in-house dining operation, which works with local growers and seasonal foods to design menus for the winery’s tasting room, as well as all special events; no outside caterers are permitted. Recent menus have included fresh Fava Bean Ravioli, Lavender Glazed Rack of Lamb, and the Grapevine Grill, which includes the winery’s own grape leaves, stuffed to order.
Extras include an outdoor fire pit and s’more fixings. Bring your own campfire stories.
- Venue rentals from $5,000/max 250 guests
- Wine discount 10%
- Amplified music inside only
- No on-site accommodation; Cross Roads Inn B & B is right next door
Rosemont Vineyard and Winery
1050 Blackridge Road, LaCrosse, 434-636-9463
Outdoor receptions at Virginia wineries are nearly guaranteed to be picture-perfect, but amplified music may be limited by local zoning. Boisterous bands are no problem at Rosemont Vineyard and Winery. Just a stone’s throw from the North Carolina border, Rosemont is “in a pretty rural area and everyone near us is family, so we don’t mind and we love great music!” says Aubrey Rose, of the Rosemont family.
The imposing, plantation-style winery has enough acreage and parking to accommodate extra-large outdoor weddings, but holding the reception indoors expands the options. After a ceremony overlooking 22 acres of vines, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres can be served indoors around the tasting room’s Williamsburg fireplace. The rustic-elegant sunroom or the upstairs art gallery – which some brides decorate with their mothers’ wedding dresses and family photos – play host to dinner and dancing.
Rosemont only does one wedding per weekend, and their costs are among the lowest in the state, so they can fill up a year in advance. Bridal parties can use the savings to rent a house on nearby Lake Gaston and make it a destination weekend.
- Venue rentals from $900/max 275 guests outdoors, 100 – 250 indoors
- Wine discount 15%
- Amplified music permitted indoors and outdoors
- Local accommodation on Lake Gaston, waterfrontpropertieswp.com
A Historic Affair
5872 Leedstown Rd., Oak Grove, VA, 804-224-8687
There’s no telling how many romances have been kindled in Ingleside’s dimly lit barrel room, where white lights trail behind a private tasting bar, and tall tables are set for a private têtê ẚ têtê. The space has a medieval feel to it, making for an intimate rehearsal dinner. The white lights continue outside into the European-styled courtyard, which seats up to 300 for a catered reception. Though particularly dramatic at night, the courtyard’s shade trees also make it a nice spot for afternoon receptions.
Ingleside is one of Virginia’s original wineries, and has been a stopping-off point for history- and water-loving vacationers headed to the Northern Neck for three decades. They offer a long list of affordable varietals for events, including award-winning petit verdot, sangiovese, and merlot. Even better, the winery offers wedding parties a 20% discount off the retail price.
- Venue rentals from $2500/max 300 guests outdoors, 150 indoors
- Wine discount 20%
- Amplified music indoors only
- Local accommodations: Ingleside offers two waterfront cottages; rooms also available at historic Stratford Hall Plantation
Nancy Bauer and husband Rick Collier visited more than 160 Virginia wineries while writing their smartphone guide to Virginia wine country, Virginia Wine in My Pocket.