8 UNIQUE TIPS TO PLAN THE PERFECT SONOMA WEDDING

As one of the oldest vineyards in California’s Wine Country, Abbot’s Passage is a historic yet modern winery with a stone barrel cellar, open vistas, sunny patios, and a backdrop of old vines offering the perfect location for your wedding day. When you plan your Sonoma wedding or special event at AP, our team will be your one-stop-shop to help bring your dreams to life! Haven’t decided where to host your event? Check out our top 8 unique tips (hint hint: this is supposed to be fun!) to plan the perfect Sonoma winery wedding.

venue & vineyards

1. Finding your venue is the best part! After that, everything else starts to fall into place. Looking for that quintessential Sonoma wedding? Make sure to find a venue where you can get married IN the vineyard. It doesn’t get better than that view for the ceremony and photos! Plan some time to take photos with your photographer among the vines right after your ceremony and then make your debut again as the reception gets underway. 

2. Check the noise ordinance for your venue. At AP, the noise ordinance is ten o’clock, so if you want to keep the party going, you can plan an after party at a downtown location or even transition into something like a silent disco. Our venue is a short shuttle ride to downtown near the hotels and guests always like to let loose at one of our local watering holes. Many couples make a quick appearance and then sneak away. The stories you’ll hear will likely bring big laughs to your brunch the following day.

CATERING & PHOTOGRAPHY

3. If you’re going to splurge, splurge on catering and photography – this is what you are going to remember for the rest of your life! Remember to get that photo book made right away. It’s so much more enjoyable to experience and share your wedding with a coffee table book back at home. 

LARGE FORMAT WINE BOTTLES

4. During the planning process, pick out a magnum (or two!) of wine for your guests to sign with the guest book. Open them up on your anniversary with friends while you reminisce about your favorite moments from that night. Many of our red wines age very well and fun fact, because the air to wine ratio is smaller in a magnum they age better than standard format wine bottles.

INDOOR OR OUTDOOR

5. For a wine country wedding, it’s best to find an indoor space for dancing and dessert (since Sonoma can get so cold at night!) It’s always a good idea to be prepared for a weather shift from the day into the evening. While it’s hot during the day, temperatures can drop drastically in the evenings due to some maritime influence coming from San Pablo Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It’s worth considering adding umbrellas for the daytime or heaters outdoors for when the sun goes down to be extra prepared for all sorts of weather. A lot of couples I have worked with in the past have gone above and beyond and created customized blankets for their guests as a creative and curated way to help guests stay warm.

DESTINATION: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

6. At Abbot’s Passage, we’re one of the lucky few wineries who can host weddings in wine country (only five wineries in all of Napa and a handful in Sonoma have the permit to host). Hosting a Sonoma wedding is not just great for the bride and groom (hello early honeymoon) but allows your guests to also take a vacation. We are located just 25 miles from Sonoma County Airport,  65 miles from Oakland International and 70 miles from San Francisco International Airport.

NO HIDDEN FEES

7. Always check what’s included in the site fee. Those little things add up! At Abbot’s Passage, we include lighting, lounge furniture and ceremony arbor in addition to the space rental.

WINES TO KEEP CELEBRATING

8. Last but not least, joining the club at the winery where you get married is a great way to continue to celebrate. There is a proven link between taste buds and memories – and you won’t believe how the memories come back to you every time you have the wine!

some of our preferred vendors

Elaine Bell Catering | Bright Event Rentals | Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn (lodging) | Vine Country Signs (custom signage)

Check us out on Instagram for the most up to date, seasonal images of our property, and reach out to our team today to learn more about how we can bring your wine country wedding to life! Contact Us

HOW TO: BUILD YOUR OWN GRAZING BOARD

What do artisanal flatbread crackers, salami and dried fruits all have in common? They share a home on our cult-famous grazing boards.  

This month, we got together with our culinary team to learn what’s what on our classic grazing board. Because if you’ve been to our tasting room, you know just how delicious this board is, and our team will be the first to admit, it pairs perfectly with…well, anything.   

Hosting a dinner party and need to elevate your appetizer game? Want to add some fresh variety into your lunch lineup next week? Going to a potluck and need to bring a dish? Our DIY grazing board is the perfect fit for all of the above!  

Plus, if you’re reading this, it’s safe to say you’re interested in wine. Our culinary team has curated our grazing board to accentuate all the complexities of our wines. From the sweetness of the quince paste bringing out the fruit flavors in something like our Sightline, to the saltiness of the cheese complementing our red field blend.  

Abbot’s Passage Classic Grazing Board  

Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:  

  • One soft cheese of choice (we recommend Brie or Chevre)  
  • One semi-hard cheese of choice (we recommend Gouda)  
  • Sliced Salami  
  • Sliced Chorizo  
  • Artisanal Crackers (our personal favorite is Rustic Bakery)  
  • Crostini  
  • Cheese pennies or other savory biscuit  
  • House made pickles or cornichons  
  • House-cured olives  
  • Mixed nut savory blend  
  • Tomato jam  
  • Quince paste  
  • Dried peaches  
  • Dried pineapples 
  • Mandarin Orange wedges  
  • Chocolate covered cherries 
  • Foraged garnish of choice (estate pickings are usually an olive branch or grape leaves)  

Serving Pieces: 

  • One large serving tray 
  • 3-4 Small serving vessels, plates or bowls  
  • Small cheese knives, spoons and forks  

Instructions:  

  1. Start by arranging all your ingredients on the counter – keeping cheeses, charcuterie, pickles/olives and fruit together in segmented areas 
  2. Begin assembling the board with your two cheeses, we like to set one on each side of the tray. Cut into each one a little bit to make it feel more welcoming (no one wants to be the one to ruin a perfect piece of cheese)! 
  3. Next, fan out the chorizo and salami, one on each side of the board near each cheese  
  4. Select a few of the small serving vessels and decide which will work best for the mixed nuts, olives, pickles, tomato jam and quince paste. Fill each small bowl or plate with one item and place in various places around the board.  
  5. Now it’s time to add the crackers. Spread the crackers, crostini, and cheese pennies in groups around the board, filling in empty spaces 
  6. The fruit is the piece de resistance! The board should be quite full now, so nestle in the dried and fresh fruit along with chocolate covered cherries as a little surprise treat. Don’t be afraid to pile it on or overlap some of the other items.  
  7. Last but not least: a foraged garnish. We like to use olive branches, mustard flowers or grape leaves. You can really use anything here: fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil or tarragon, fresh flowers, or even a sprinkle of dried herbs like thyme or rosemary if you don’t have anything fresh.  

HARVEST IS HERE! A note from Katie Bundschu

Summer has flown by!  It feels like I just packed up my holiday décor, only to feel like I will be pulling them out in no time! My family and I are going to try to take a few quick long weekends to soak up the last few days of summer before harvest rolls around. 

Harvest represents both a beginning and end.  It’s the culmination of the hard year-round work that goes into tending our vines, yet the beginning of turning that hard work into a pleasurable bottle of wine through the process of winemaking.  Neither process could exist without the other.  

As a youngster growing up harvest was just the period of time where I never saw my dad nor did we ever schedule any family vacations!  It’s also probably why most everyone in my family celebrates their anniversary in early August—because no one was allowed to get married during harvest! However, now I understand harvest through so many different lenses and how special it really is.  

I once heard a fellow winemaker explain it in such an eloquent way that really resonated with me–which I will paraphrase.  In summary she said theoretically, if you’re lucky, you are a winemaker for 30 years of your life. How many other occupations out there do you only have 30 chances to be the best you can possibly be?  You only get one chance every year and have to wait an entire year in order to try it again.  It’s both beautiful and painful to think about. 

The property here is absolutely stunning towards the end of summer—it really gets a chance to show its beauty in the fall. I never get tired of the transition of light—there is a point of time when the light becomes the true definition of “Golden Hour.” I chose one specific vine to capture a photograph of James last year, and I hope to be able to do that every year hereafter. 

boy sitting under a grapevine

We hope to see you this fall to soak in all that harvest has to offer in Glen Ellen.  

Be well, 

Katie Bundschu signature

 

 

 

OUR BIGGEST COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY YET

As of September 2023, we are officially Regenerative Organic Certified®

What is Sustainability?

We like to say sustainability ultimately comes down to this: Make it better, leave it better.

This not only reflects the wine we’re trying to make, but also the world we’re trying to leave behind.

Sustainability in the wine industry is not only about producing higher quality wine, but also about ensuring the health of the environment, supporting local communities, and responding to global challenges such as climate change. Our vision is a holistic approach that aims to balance economic, social, and environmental factors for the benefit of current and future generations.

If we’ve learned one thing about being responsible stewards of this land for the last six generations our family has been here, it’s that it requires constant innovation and action throughout the whole process all the way from dirt to glass. From our solar panels to recycling to our irrigation system*, to our Regenerative Organic Certified® achievement, a glass of AP wine supports a healthier, happier, more sustainable world for us all. (And the fact that the wine tastes better is just a bonus!)

“Many certifications just tell you what you can and can’t do, but ROC requires you to look closely at the biggest elements of your land, how they fully function together as one, and how one piece can’t be successful without the other.”

-Meghan Murphy, Sustainability Manager

What does it mean to farm regenerative organic?

Regenerative organic agriculture is a collection of practices that focus on regenerating soil health and the full farm ecosystem including soil health, animal welfare, and fairness for farmers & workers. It is overseen by the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA). You can learn more about the origins of ROA and their story here.

In the vineyards, our organic farming practices include the introduction of beneficial predators, from owls and bluebirds to beetles and mites, and intensive pest monitoring allows us to minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides. Cover crops contribute vital diversity and nutrition to the soils, and we utilize organic compounds whenever inputs (such as sprays) are needed.

Our grazing crew includes goats, sheep, donkeys and cows, who assist in the buildup of soil health as well as help with fire mitigation with dry brush in our native landscape. The sheep are taken care of by our livestock guardian dogs, Bert and Reynolds.

“Many of our vines are over 50 years old, and we’re hoping they grow for another 100. That means it’s really important to treat the surrounding area with care and forethought for the people who are going to come generations after us.”

-Joe Uhr, Director of Winemaking

Why Regenerative? 

We like to compare why regenerative matters to this analogy. Let’s say you’re ill, the doctor might prescribe you medicine and it might give your ailment some instant relief, but it won’t stop you or your body from procuring that same illness again.

But if you acknowledge your body’s needs and alter your lifestyle, change your diet, and build new healthy habits, you’ll likely reduce the number of times you need to see the doctor and mitigate illness. Regenerative acts similarly; it’s not a band aid for our ecosystem, but rather a deeper, fundamental change with the mission to build a healthy environment, healthy people and healthy state.

Regenerative organic addresses each element of our ecosystem and defines how they all depend on each other and work as a unit. Regenerative practices help minimize soil erosion, prohibit the use of synthetic chemicals, and promote biodiversity, thus preserving ecosystems and protecting natural resources for future generations. Additionally, focusing on the health of the vineyard through organic practices can produce higher quality grapes. This can result in better-tasting wines that reflect the unique characteristics of the terroir.

“Our land, both inherited through generations and acquired during our journey, is a gift. It is our responsibility to consciously care for it. Promoting environmental stewardship and sustainability is something I want to pass on to my own son and our ROC achievement shows our commitment to ensuring our land and practices are passed down to future generations.”

-Katie Bundschu

HOST YOUR OWN BRUNCH FLIGHT

Whether that’s Sunday brunch with our gal pals or a nice Friday dinner party, getting together over shared food and drinks looks different for everyone! As someone very wise once said:  

“Brunch without champagne is just a sad, late breakfast.”

So, we’ve created the Brunch flight! Because who doesn’t love pastries and wine? Saturdays through Mondays, we offer a tasting of some of our wines, a wine cocktail along with Glen Ellen’s favorite Les Pascals.  

Can’t make it over to us for a visit? Or want to try replicate the tasting experience for yourself and friends at home?  

We’ve got you covered with some suggested steps to go about hosting your own Brunch Flight tasting. Get some friends together for a brunch date. Since most of our wines are Rhone-inspired blends, we took a French pastry direction with our brunch, but feel free to add your own brunch personality to your own experience!  

DIY Brunch Flight

  • First, choose the breakfast wines for your flight pairing.
  • We recommend staying light with your wine choices– our Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, and sparkling Rosé are some of our favorites.
  • Choose a few breakfast snacks. Whether you’re making them by hand or picking them up from your favorite bakery, we like to ensure that whatever’s on the table has a variety. 
  • From a savory snack like a Provençale Quiche or croissant to something more refreshing and fruitier like a lemon tart, make sure your spread is balanced and not too heavy.
  • The house-favorite on our Brunch flight and Katie’s favorite childhood snack are our strawberries dipped in brown sugar 
  • Dip one strawberry in sour cream, brown sugar and sprinkle with orange zest
  • We put our own spin on this Bundschu family classic by topping it off with zest of local oranges – because it is citrus season here in California after all!   
  • Take a sip of each wine followed by a bite of each breakfast snack or pastry. 
  • If you want to geek out a little bit on food pairings, you can even take some notes about what flavors and aromas are coming up for you as you go through your tasting and which pairings you like the most! 
  • If you’re still hungry afterward, then learn how to DIY our grazing boards for some heavier snacking after your brunch tasting.

DIY Noontide Cocktail

One of our cocktail specials is endearingly called Noontide Tiki-fied. It’s our refreshing take on a tiki cocktail. Simply mix our Noontide Sauvignon Blanc with the following ingredients.

  • Mix our signature Noontide Sauvignon Blanc  
  • Splash of grapefruit juice 
  • Splash of orgeat almond syrup 
  • Dash of allspice 
  • Dash of ginger  
  • Sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg  
  • Add an orange garnish  

In the case that you do host a Brunch-flight-inspired get-together from home, we want to see it! So don’t forget to say hi and show us on Instagram @abbotspassage. Cheers and bon appétit!