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Bluemont Winery presents gorgeous views and wedding assistance. Photo courtsey Bluemont Winery
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Glass House Winery’s conservatory is a tropical paradise in Albemarle County. Photo courtsey of Glass House Winery
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Photo courtsey of Glass House Winery
When you're planning your big day, consider one of the most Virginian of venues: wineries. The state boasts more than 190 producers of wine, many of which are situated in scenic areas and host plenty of events. From small and intimate to large and fancy, there's a venue that can host your party.
Intimate and Distinctive
Couples looking for a nontraditional venue with a lush, tropical-inspired atmosphere should check out Glass House Winery (434-975-0094 or glasshousewinery.com ) in Albemarle County."The centerpiece of our events is the conservatory," winery owner Jeff Sanders says. "It has glass walls with tropical plants and seating for about 90 people inside." Because the main conservatory seats between 80 and 90 people, Sanders calls it Glass House's "sweet spot" for events, but notes that they can accommodate up to 150.
Although some couples choose to add flowers, the facility is already so lush with plants that they aren't necessarily needed. Brushed stainless-steel tables with optional tablecloths are also available
Glass House Winery is open to any caterer or band but can also supply a listing of preferred caterers they've worked with and even bands that've played at the winery. Any wines served at the reception must be Glass House, but couples who hire a caterer with a liquor license are welcome to bring in spirits and beer. Also, since Sanders' wife, Michelle, happens to be a chocolatier, couples can use her confections for favors.
Bluemont Vineyard in Loudoun County (540-554-8439 or bluemontvineyard.com ) offers a climate-controlled stable that has seating for about 200 people. "The barn was originally built as a stable for trail rides," says Kate Zurshmeide, co-owner of Bluemont's sister business, Great Country Farms. "We tried to keep a lot of the original ironwork, and even hung the stall doors on the walls to create some rustic ambiance."
Smaller weddings of up to 50 people, or a rehearsal dinner before the main event, can be held in Bluemont's scenic two-story tasting room with a gorgeous mountain view. Outdoor tenting can also be added to make space for larger groups, and there are also several spaces for hosting a ceremony on-site. Because several bed-and-breakfasts are in the area, Zurshmeide says the area is popular for destination weddings.
All packages include event-planning assistance and a day-of event coordinator. "People have a vision, and if they communicate it to one of our event planners, all of their troubles seem to go away," she says. "Anything that comes up, our folks are ready for it. We really want to make your event as much your dream day as it can be."
Bluemont provides what Zurshmeide calls a turnkey service for the bride, meaning that the winery supplies linens, tables, tenting and most other venue-related elements through partnerships they've established over the years. Bluemont wines are required at the reception, but the couple can choose a caterer with a liquor license.
Mid-Sized Events with Flex
One of the newest wineries on Virginia's scene, Saudé Creek (843-7100 or saudecreek.com ) in New Kent County hosts weddings ranging in size from intimate, indoor 50-person affairs to large-scale tented receptions outdoors. Event coordinator Phyllis Geron says that since the winery opened in July 2011 and is just starting to host events, the venue is very flexible: "We're happy to try and accommodate our clients' wishes."
The centerpiece for events at Saudé Creek is the two-story tasting room with a wrap-around porch and deck that overlooks the bluffs of the Pamunkey River. Small weddings of up to 50 can be hosted in the loft area, and the main tasting area can accommodate between 50 and 100 people. Geron says some couples choose to host their ceremonies on the deck overlooking the river and then move inside for the reception.
Geron says the winery is open to couples using any caterer but has a list of food providers in New Kent the staff has worked with and recommends. All wine at the event comes from Saudé Creek, of course, and if the event includes fewer than 50 people, the winery will provide a complimentary tasting of up to six wines. For larger groups, tastings are offered for a per-person charge, and for any size event, the couple can buy wine by the bottle at a discount.
There are many more wineries that are equipped to host events. For a complete listing, visit virginiawine.org .