Getting married in California’s beautiful Napa Valley is a dream for couples who enjoy a glass (or bottle) (or two) of wine. And let’s be honest, that probably applies to most of us. But there’s one little known law about having a Napa Valley wedding in one of the most picturesque places in America: Most Napa Valley wineries aren’t allowed to perform weddings on their property.
Due to an obscure 1989 law, Napa Valley wineries are strictly prohibited from hosting weddings on their grounds. The Winery Definition Ordinance (WDO) was put in place in the late ’80s to protect the agricultural land used for wineries and wanted to be very specific about what types of activities can (and more importantly can not) take place on these grounds. And apparently weddings are on the “not” list.
We asked Aram Chakerian of the Napa Valley Vintners about the rule and he said, “It’s highly illegal for wineries to host weddings unless they had the right to do so prior to the Winery Definition Ordinance.”
But is there a way around it? Sort of.
According to Aram, “Some places list themselves as somewhere to host a wedding reception, not necessarily a wedding. But the Napa Valley government are quite firm about the WDO and a winery can lose their operating permit if they don’t abide by the rules.”
Well, we don’t want to cause any of these wonderful vineyards to lose their ability to produce wine, now do we?
So what can you do? Luckily there were five wineries that were grandfathered in before the law was put in place. These wineries where you can still perform a Napa Valley wedding are:
Charles Krug Winery (St. Helena)
V. Sattui Winery (St. Helena)
Merryvale Vineyards (St. Helena)
Hans Fahden Vineyards (Calistoga)
Beringer Vineyards (St. Helena)
You can get more info on VisitNapaValley.com as well.
Editor’s Tip: You can also consider a wine country wedding at a resort!
If having a Napa Valley wedding is a dream of yours, it can be done. Just make sure that if you want to have your actual ceremony in Napa, you can only have it at one of the five places listed above. If you are willing to have your ceremony somewhere else, then you will have plenty of more legal options in the area. And if you want to invite us, we’d be OK with that, too (we love a good Napa Cab!).
We’ll have reviews for these Napa Valley venues up soon, but until then check out all of our California wedding venues.