Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Winery Wedding - Temecula

Live in Southern California, but looking for a winery to have your wedding? You don't have to go to Napa or Sonoma County, or even San Luis Obispo. You have one in your own backyard in Temecula. You are familiar with Temecula, aren't you? It's a great area located 85 miles southeast from Los Angeles, 42 miles south of Riverside, and 60 miles north of San Diego, and home to over 30 wineries.

One such winery offering weddings is the Ponte Family Estate Winery, 35053 Rancho California Road . Situated among 350 acres of vineyards and gardens, the Ponte Family Estate Winery is the perfect place for your winery wedding.

The Ponte Family Estate Winery is one of the most elegant wineries in Temecula, offering you two romantic locations for your ceremony: an idyllic garden surrounded by lush, vine-covered trellises, or a grassy amphitheater surrounded by the vineyards. For your reception, you have the choice of a Tent Pavilion for parties up to 300, our their mission-style Barrel Room for parties up to 100. Having a small destination wedding? They've got you covered there with their VIP Tasting Room for parties up to 14.

To see their menu offerings, you can go to

Ponte red wines include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Super Tuscan, Zinfandel and Petite Syrah. Their whites include Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Grigio.

For more information regarding weddings at the Ponte Family Estate Winery call (951) 694-8855.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Unique California Wedding Venues - Trains

Want a unique wedding venue in California that will delight guests young and old? Consider getting married or having your California wedding on a train. There are several trains in California which will either take you and your wedding party to a secluded destination to get married, or where you can actually have the wedding on the train itself. Either way a train is synonymous with romance and will give your guests (and you) something to remember for years. Here are a few trains in California where you can make special wedding arrangements:

Skunk Train - Mendocino Coast, California

Traveling at 29 miles per hour, the Skunk Train takes you and your wedding guests on the same northern California coastal "Redwood Route" that it has traveled since 1885. Leaving from the train station at Fort Bragg or Willits, California, the train takes your wedding party to either the Camp Mendocino Dining Hall, or the Northspur outdoor reception site, a remote outdoor site set amongst the towering redwoods, for a truly unforgettable wedding adventure.

The Skunk Train staff works with many local entertainers, so you have the option of providing live entertainment for your guests while aboard the train. Local entertainment includes the Skunk Train's famed "Trainsinger," as well as jazz bands, big bands, and rock bands. And, for great wedding photos, nothing beats the open observation train cars. Of course, the train pulls covered cars as well.

For those unfamiliar with the Mendocino area, it is truly breathtaking, punctuated by meadows, towering redwood forests and rocky cliffs. For more information about weddings aboard the Skunk Train, call 530-666-6781.

Napa Valley Wine Train - Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley, California is known as a great wine producing region of California, so it's only natural that any wedding taking place in the Napa Valley includes wine. If you're a wine buff, gourmet diner and train enthusiast, you may want to consider a wedding or reception aboard The Napa Valley Wine Train, a three-hour round-trip rail and gourmet dining adventure from the town of Napa to St. Helena. While on board, your guests can be treated to views of vineyards and wineries from restored train cars dating back to 1915-1947. Wineries you will pass by include such fine labels as Trefethen, Clos du Val, Cardinale, Domaine Chandon, Neibaum/Coppola and Grgich Hills. The Train also has a couple additional winery tours you can arrange.

You have your choice of three dining car experiences: the Vista Dome is a glass-domed rail car which can seat groups up to 56; the Silverado Grill is a casual dining car with sliding windows, which can seat groups up to 54; one of the Gourmet Express Pullman dining cars from 1915 - 1917. If you have a large wedding party you can charter the Gourmet Express, Vista Dome and Silverado Grill for up to 370 people. For Group information, call 707-253-0920.

Roaring Camp Railroad - Felton, California

Yet one more California wedding rail adventure, the Roaring Camp Railroads operates out of Felton, California, which is just north of Santa Cruz. The Roaring Camp Railroad offers wedding events at their camp, as well as Cathedral Grove, located on Bear Mountain, which is accessible by a vintage steam train. While at the Cathedral Grove site, couples exchange their vows underneath ancient, towering redwoods. For more information regarding wedding parties, call 831-335-4484.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Orange County Wedding Reception Ideas

Looking for romantic spots for a wedding reception? Here are some restaurants in Orange County, California that are particularly suited for romance.

The Top Ten Romantic Restaurants in Orange County, California
By Carine Nadel

There is no shortage of places to eat in Orange County, California. Romance abounds with the cliffside views of the Pacific Ocean on one half of the county and the hills and valleys on the other half. Depending on your budget and individual preferences there are so many to chose one that I had a very hard time pinning down the ten here. According to the Gayot restaurant guide, and a personal polling of 20 long-time residents of the area here are the ones that "made the grade" as places to go when you want romance to fill the air (they are in random order):

Starting with the "inland" choices:

Anaheim White House-an institution in Anaheim. Northern Italian cuisine is combined with French touches in an actual white house in very elegant decor.

Orange Hill Restaurant-in the city of Orange. The restaurant has been host to numerous weddings, anniversary celebrations and proposals. The cuisine in American. The restaurant and bar overlook the sweeping valley below. The lights of the cities in the distance are incredible. So high on the romance charts, I even suggested to my sister that this would be the perfect spot for her wedding. The food is excellent, but the guests seem to wander over to the windows to enjoy the view as much as the catered reception.

Golden Truffle-Costa Mesa. While the restaurant doesn't have any views and resides on a major street, what makes this restaurant special is the willingness of the chef and his staff to personally cook up some of the county's most exotic cuisine and serve it in an unintrusive way.

Cedar Creek Inn-San Juan Capistrano. This restaurant is in the old town area, right across the street from the Mission. Again, no view perse but the patio lights and the ease of taking a stroll through the quaint city and shop in the anitque shops is worth it. The cuisine is Californian.

Five Crowns-Corona Del Mar. The main element to this extremely well known eatery is that it is an exact replica of England's oldest inn. The Lawry's owned restaurant serves American dishes, but the waitstaff serves you in period English dress and manners. Obviously, if you chose here, eat the steak ribs.

The Ritz Restaurant and Garden-Newport Beach. Continental cuisine served by a wonderful wait staff that want to make sure that whatever you are celebrating becomes special. Our son sent my husband and I here for our 23rd anniversary. He had taken his girlfriend and was not only impressed by the terrific food, but that the service was quiet, attentive and respectful (some eateries are not so with couples who are 20-somethings).

The remaining restaurants all have sweeping Pacific Ocean views. Except for Las Brisas which serves Mexican fare, the all serve American cuisine.

Las Brisas-Laguna Beach. Best bet, stick with the seafood. This restaurant has been around a long time. While the food may not really be up to the same standards as the rest of the choices listed, the view and usually the service are what keep this place on the "romantic" map.

The Chart House-Dana Point. Many the wedding and reception has taken place here. Even wanted to add our own daughter's to the list. When we want a very romantic evening, this is where my husband and I go. The food is excellent, the staff professional and while you wait (and you will)you can enjoy a stroll in the "backyard" or just sit outside with a glass of wine.

Cannons-Dana Point. Plenty of directions to crane your neck at the view up here. I prefer brunch on a spring or summer Sunday, but of the long-time residents I interviewed, they're sold on this hotspot for a special evening out.

Salt Creek Inn-considered Laguna Niguel. Different and eclectic. Service can be spotty, but the younger crowd I talked to seem to really enjoy eating here.

These were the chosen few, but I would be remiss not to mention if time and budget allow, try eating at any of the venues at the Laguna Beach Montage Hotel. The hotel is romance personified, the grounds are beautiful, the menus varied (alas a little steep for my budget)and sound delicious. Those who had eaten there couldn't stop raving about how delicious every was and how beautifully it was served. One gentleman took his wife of 30 years there to celebrate their anniversary and the staff helped "hide" her pearl necklace in a specialy made dessert!

Now all anyone needs to do is put on the dress up togs and come and visit-during dinner! Oh and reservations are suggested!

Carine Nadel loves trying new and different places. Her writing makes it a possiblity. To read more of her writing log onto: or

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