April 4th, 2017

Planning a Dreamy Wine Country Wedding in McMinnville Oregon

If you’re looking for a romantic setting for a wedding, then one in wine country makes perfect sense. I’m planning my wedding abroad in the fall but being so far away from where all your wedding vendors are can sometimes lead to missing out on learning about the little details. I spent the day with one of my bridesmaids traveling around beautiful McMinnville meeting with wedding industry professionals gathering advice for my own wedding and shopping brides. From venues to cocktails, we learned at lot about things you may not always think about when looking to create your perfect day.

Maysara Winery was our first stop. We were excited to see the beautiful venue and learn about choosing wines for weddings. We met with Hanna Momtazi, who is the daughter of the founders of the winery. She was so helpful and walked us through the venue with great detail. With multiple layout options and spaces you can use, building a flow from the ceremony, to the cocktail hour, to the reception dinner can be created to fit any shape or size.

The buildings around the winery are built using 95% reused materials, like the beautiful wood floors where you may host your reception dinner were crafted from recycled wine barrels. The uniquely Maysara cobble stone flooring and walls were built using rocks from the local hillside. Maysara Winery is a rustic, beautiful venue with huge capacity. With the authentic winery decorations and beautiful 36-feet doors that open to a view of the winery, the venue has old-world romance written all-over it.

Not only are the buildings environmental friendly, but the wines are also crafted using biodynamics. Hanna walked us through the importance of not manipulating the grapes using chemicals in any way and because of that, the weather plays a huge factor in how the wines are finalized. A pinot noir from one year, will taste different from a pinot noir from the next.

When we asked what advice she’d give to brides who were looking for wines, Hanna explained again how the weather will play a big part in your guests tastes. If it’s a summer wedding, you’ll want to offer more white wine because naturally in the warm weather people tend to crave the sweeter and crisper taste of white wines. Winter weathered weddings should have more red wine as the cold weather calls for the warming red tastes for your guests.

McMinnville Oregon wedding
JOS Photography

After finishing at Maysara, we traveled to Youngberg Hill just down the road to meet with owner Nicolette. Youngberg Hill was the perfect contrast to Maysara; it carried a clean and modern vibe about it. Based on top of a hill with views of the winery and local mountain range, Youngberg hosted a newly designed open-air wedding space with indoor and outdoor options, as well as a Bed and Breakfast that you can use to stay the night.

In the main venue space, you have almost 360 degree views of the countryside, the grounds, and the Inn on the hill. The ceremony can be hosted outside, with a unbelievably breathtaking view, and you can finish your night dancing and drinking under the stars.

The Inn hosts nine rooms with bed and breakfast for your closest guests to stay with your overnight. Having the convenience of the Inn at the footsteps of your wedding venue makes for a family-oriented vibe and easy comfort whenever you need it. To make things even more about you, Youngberg Hill adjusted their tasting room hours so that when the venue is yours, it’s exclusively yours. Something to think about!

When we asked Nicolette what advice she would share with shopping brides, her advice was to look at the big picture financially. Booking a venue for the face-value number is usually what brides do first, but make sure you ask the right questions beforehand so you know that external vendors and added venue costs won’t break your budget after you’ve already committed to the venue. Do a bit of research on what a external vendors will cost you, and make sure you clearly know what is included in the venue cost and what is not (example: tables and chairs, restrooms, tents, venue maintenance and clean-up, etc.) because that is where the price will rack up.

Valley Commissary McMinnville Oregon Wedding CateringVALLEY COMMISSARY
After spending some time sipping wines and looking at venues, we went to learn about hosting a great meal for guests. Food is easily one of the most important part of a wedding reception because it’s something that everyone can and will relate on.

We went down to a local restaurant, Valley Commissary, to have some lunch and taste-test a local caterer here in the area. The restaurant and catering business is run by Chef Jesse Kincheloe, who started it after studying culinary arts in the Portland area for many years. He explained how he sources all his food from a nine mile radius, which is why instead of a BLT sandwich, you’ll see a BLB sandwich (bacon, lettuce and beets) on the menu because, “well… tomatoes aren’t in season in Oregon currently.”

When we asked Jesse about wedding catering he says that finding someone who will make the menu around you, as opposed to a set menu that is given to anyone and everyone, is important to make the day yours. The team at Valley Commissary will sit down with you to learn your food tastes, budget, and dietary requests. Also learning about the venue, and what is and isn’t available is important when creating a menu. Can the caterer prepare food there, or will it need to be delivered to the venue? This opened my eyes to how personal your catering experience can be if you find the right team to help you.

After having my first ever burger with peanut butter on it (yes, peanut butter), I was forever changed. The creative menu and local, fresh ingredients was so tasty that I might have to drive back down to McMinnville soon for lunch again and again.

After learning about dinner, we were focused on the toasts and champagne. We went down to the lively 3rd street of McMinnville, to the R. Stuart & Co. tasting room, to learn all about sparkling wine.

The tasting room reminded me more of a wine bar, with a lively staff and cute little tables that invite you to come in, sit down, and stay awhile. We were quickly introduced to Casee Clark, who was excited to talk shop with us. For the sake of educating us, she started by pouring us two glasses side by side, to allow us to compare and contrast some sparking wines. After trying one sweet, and one brut, I learned I prefer the sweet taste but my friend preferred the brut taste – proving the point that you need to consider everyone at your big day!

It was easy to quickly see that R. Stuart has a bit of everything, for everyone. From sweet, to strong, to some Port for your after dinner dessert. If you’re having a wedding that requires you to stock the bar yourself, this would be a great option for all of your guests. When we asked Casee for some advice for brides, she said to make sure that your bartender or venue isn’t short pouring your guests – you should be able to get 8 glasses of sparkling per person, not 10-12 that some places will do to save their costs without charging less to you. Knowledge is everything!

Thistle Restaurant McMinnville OregonTHISTLE RESTAURANT
After a long day, we headed to Thistle for some snacks and cocktails. We had heard about the bartender, Patrick, and we wanted to pick his brain about the perfect wedding cocktails. Patrick has been in the food and beverage service since the mid-90s and you can tell instantly that he loves what he does. While exploring different style cocktails with Patrick, and munching on some snacks, Patrick continued to give us some great advice into what he would do if he were choosing a wedding cocktail for a couple.

First, he explained that understanding the couple and the kind of wedding they’re having is a must. Things like full bar, some spirits, or wine/beer/champagne makes a difference. Are you hiring the venue to bartend, or someone outside of the venue? Another good thing to think about is alcohol content, and making sure you’re not providing cocktails with high percentage of alcohol. This isn’t because you want to cut costs, but because drinking cocktails in general is a social experience and because someone has one in their hand, they’ll easily join the spirit of the event. You don’t want to offer cocktails that ruin that spirit by getting everyone too drunk, too quickly. Keep it fun and social.

Overall, the day was extremely fun and we learned so much. I would recommend to anyone who wants to get married in wine country to spend a day in McMinnville learning as much as you can before booking any venues or vendors. For those of you like me, who is getting married abroad or elsewhere, a day like this is still incredibly helpful when planning – regardless of the location! Plus, who doesn’t love having an excuse to learn about food, and drinks, and the finer wedding details… all day?

Blog post written by Julie Knapp.