So, the title of this post is sort of misleading... when I think of wine country, I typically think of a relaxing weekend, sipping varietals of wines beside gorgeous vineyards, basking in the sunshine. Well, we definitely sipped (read: gulped) wine and spent lots of time in the sun, but this weekend certainly wasn't relaxing. And I mean that in the best possible way. One of my best gals, Kate, is getting married in October, (I am honored to be in her wedding) and we celebrated her in STYLE in Sonoma County, California. The STUNNING Villa Vernazza in Santa Rosa hosted a slew of fabulous ladies for what we dubbed Kates Final Rosé (a spin on The Bachelorette). First and foremost, I want to give a huge shout-out to the Maid of Honor, Hannah, and kick-ass bridesmaid, Cara, for all their hard work in putting together this perfect weekend filled with wine, food, laughter, tears (happy ones) and debauchery. I know from experience that it's not easy to wrangle upwards of a dozen girls for even one night out, let alone an entire destination weekend. Bravo, ladies, HUGE SUCCESS.
Villa Vernazza offered us a pretty grand entrance, as you have to go through a locked gate and then down a really long driveway before even setting eyes on the home. Its Tuscan look and feel was eye candy from the very first glance. We all dropped our bags inside the front door and proceeded to pick our jaws up off the floor. The VRBO description says it all: "As you approach the Villa through 1/4 mile of vineyards up the stately gated drive the image of Mount St. Helena and surrounding hills awaits in the distance. The picturesque Villa grows into view as you grasp the scope of this sprawling single level nearly 6,000 sq. ft. vineyard estate." Yeah, it was THAT good.
We spent most of our time out by the pool which was complemented by a backdrop of private vineyards, mountains, and grazing horses. I can't even make this stuff up. I felt like we were actually ON The Bachelorette. I was waiting for Chris Harrison to show up with a cocktail and a date card.
The bridesmaids presented Kate with this Rosé All Day hat from Hats by Olivia on Etsy that ended up setting the tone for the whole weekend. I think it was fate because the next day was conveniently National Rosé Day. I kid you not.
Chris Harrison never showed up, but our private chef for the evening did. I know, is this real life? Dennis Hogan of Puttin It On! made us a mouthwatering meal of salmon with a caper cream sauce, couscous and probably the best squash I have ever tasted. His sous chef/assistant, Jeremy, also did a phenomenal job of making us all laugh, but that's an entirely different blog post. Cara set the table with clever "Hangover Kits" for each of the girls, filled with some necessary bits and pieces (ahem, lots of Advil), as well as adorable personalized to-go wine tumblers for all of us. There may or may not have been some dirty straws included...
After dinner, we played a couple obligatory bachelorette games, including a lingerie game in which Kate had to guess which girl gave her which piece(s) of lingerie. I have to say, Kate was exceptionally bad at this game, but we still love her anyways. I get it, my bridesmaids set this up at my own bachelorette and I think I went 3 for 9. THE PRESSURE!
Saturday was wine tasting day. I have never seen a group of more beautiful girls all in one place. We all put on our vineyard best and acted like ladies for at least a little bit. Our first stop was the Kistler Vineyards wine tasting room, which is actually at the Trenton Roadhouse, located just north of the winery in Sebastopol. The house used to be the home of one of the owners, but has since been turned into the most quaint tasting abode. We had the place all to ourselves. The views were breathtaking and our guide Margie was so sweet and accommodating. She said we were the largest group she's ever had and I'm sure we were a bit rowdy for what she's used to. Margie handled us with a lot of grace and poise, two words that no one would have used to describe our flock that weekend.
As if this weekend couldn't get any more dream-like, our professional photographer showed up to follow us around and capture some candid moments. Kel MacDonald was a sweetheart and was able to snap some really great pics of us socializing and tasting Kistler's delicious chardonnays and pinot noirs. It was really nice to put all our phones away for a bit and let someone else do the documenting (I'm sure Mallory appreciated the break). I think it's safe to say that we would all highly recommend hiring a photographer for an event like this if it's in your budget. When it's split between 14 girls, it ends up being pretty affordable.
From Kistler we headed over to Red Car Wine, which offered up its front lawn for us to spread out blankets and a picnic. We ordered countless bottles of their crisp and tasty rosé, and Darcy (our rockstar at Red Car) made sure that our glasses were never empty. We spread out on blankets, played bags, chatted about life and love, bought more wine, drank more wine, and generally just enjoyed the hell out of life and the BEAUTIFUL weather Sonoma was bestowing upon us the entire weekend. When one of the girls announced that it was National Rosé Day, we all lost our minds and proceeded to pour more glasses.
Red Car had seen enough of us for the day, as rosé was basically coming out of our pores, so we decided to turn it over to the other bachelorette party that showed up, and head back to our glorious mansion for some more scrumptious pool time. For the next 12 hours, we soaked up the California sunshine and ALL OF THE ROSÉ Sonoma County had to offer. Not. Sorry.
Cara presented Kate with a special letter that her fiance, Jack, had written her, and I immediately realized how much wine I had consumed when the tears started pouring out of my face. I swear, I don't even know where they came from. Insert Kim Kardashian crying meme. In my defense, I have known Jack for about 13 years, and my husband and I consider him family. When I met Kate, I knew she would fit into our awkward little family seamlessly. So hearing Jack's words to her brought it all home for me.
Kate, you're a one-of-a-kind woman, and I can't wait to stand up with you and Jack as you commit your lives to one another. It has been truly heart-warming to be a part of all your festivities thus far, and I hope that after this weekend you realize how many people hold you near and dear to their hearts. And to the rest of you insanely fun chicks: Hannah, Cara, Emily, Eve, Erin C, Erin D, Caitlin, Corinne, Mallory, Shannon, Maryann, Jordan and Kelly (phew, did I get you all?), it was a real pleasure meeting a lot of you and bonding over anything and everything and god-knows-what. You're a fine group of ladies who lifts each other up and supports one another in ways that are really inspiring. Can't wait to do it all over again in October! I guess the boys can come then.