Food and Wine, Sun and Fun: a Sonoma “Daycation!”

Let me share with you the absolutely wonderful day I had today, fleeing the San Francisco summer fog for the mediterranean sun of the Wine Country!

My dear friend and mentor Joyce Scardina Becker of Events of Distinction, founding president of WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association), invited me to join her for one of their fabulous events, this time at Annadel Estate Winery in Sonoma (Joyce’s assistant, Pelin, even gave us a ride – and she is a fantastic chauffeuse!) So, off we went, leaving the cold and fog behind to enjoy true joie de vivre. 

Annadel Winery itself is a sight to behold – 35 acres of beautiful scenery, old stone walls, and lush greenery; complete with a rustic barn…

and a cozy cottage for the bride (the perfect get-ready spot!)

Guests were greeted at a welcome reception on the scenic lawn, beautifully outfitted with antique items by Wine Country Party and Events, and treated to delicious small plates and wine.

I had the pleasure not only of meeting friends again, like Dina Balatti of Bella Celebrations who co-chaired this gathering (and had to work hard while everyone else was partying…) and Pat Gibbons who just added a line of cute handpainted and kiln-fired glass gem magnets (to go on escort cards) to her creative selection – but also finally met Emily Dreblow, the creative genius behind Soulflower Design. I had admired her floral creations in Ceremony Magazine and finally had the opportunity to tell her that in person! Speaking of Ceremony Magazine: editor-in-chief Amy Harris also attended, radiant as always. (Quite an A-list gathering of the Bay Area Wedding World, I can tell you…)

For lunch we all gathered in the “ruin courtyard,” where the original winery had once been – and the remaining walls lend the space an air of romantic seclusion and nostalgic charm. Round tables and benches under market umbrellas, beautiful tablecloths from Sharon Dexmier’s Napa Valley Linens (who as the current president of WIPA was the hostess of the day) and floral arrangements of green hydrangeas and yellow tea roses – from the extensive flower fields on the Annadel grounds – created an ambiance of carefree, rustic, yet VERY upscale summer leisure.

While we were feasting on a light lunch, Guest Speaker Liene Stevens educated us on the challenges we are facing with the “Millenials,” the current generation of brides and grooms who have grown up with computers, are relying heavily on social media and often base their decisions more on their own research and on the input of their Facebook friends than on established reputations. Often raised in the belief that they not only ARE special but DESERVE special treatment, they expect the best and want a unique, standout event for their wedding; not necessarily to put themselves in the spotlight, but to ultimately WOW their guests. So: custom and one-of-a-kind are becoming the new standard and the unspoken expectation. Get used to it…

Conversation around the tables swirled and proved right away how spot-on today’s lecture topic is! But aside from the learning experience of the lecture, we all had, of course, also the meeting experience: new colleagues and connections, that is! For me it was the team of Here Comes The Guide, everyone’s “bible” of venues and vendors: Denise Auerbach, Jenna Miller, and Angela Mullan. Who wouldn’t want to be in there?! And then I finally came to meet in person event planners Gloria Wong Tritasavit and Jubilee Lau who had invited me to so many great events and whom I had so far only “known” by email. Face-to-face is still better! Young mothers, both of them, they often cooperate which gives them more time around their little ones. That’s the way to do it! Last but not least, I had the pleasure of connecting with Isabelle Adams (also a co-chair of the event), Director of Special Events at Wilson Artisan Wineries, a company that owns several properties in the Wine Country, ALL of them – listen up, “Woof” people among the Wedding Woof crowd! – open for dog-friendly weddings. Can’t wait to do one with her in the beautiful scenery and in the sun… (we’ll provide water and shade for Fido, promise!)

To conclude the festivities, we all raided the dessert buffet, provided by Crisp Bake Shop. My favorites were the melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies filled with a beautifully balanced salted dulce de leche cream. Delicious!

And here is a little preview of what a wedding at Annadel can look like:


I think it’s magical… What a day!


Annadel Winery

Events of Distinction

Wine Country Party and Events

Bella Celebrations

Pat Gibbons

Soulflower Design,

Ceremony Magazine,

Napa Valley Linens

Here Comes The Guide

Gloria Wong Design

Jubilee Lau Events

Isabelle Adams

Crisp Bake Shop