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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Glorious time at Sonoma Mission Inn

This welcoming fountain, with its gentle splashing sounds, greets visitors to the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, inviting them to step out of a busy schedule, and into an atmosphere of rest and calm.

I took that invitation, and have just returned from 4 days at the FSMI! What a blessing to turn off my cell phone, hide my laptop, enjoy spa treatments, explore the beauty of Sonoma County, and reminisce about the amazing event Kelly McLesky and Jill Hinchman, Catering Managers at the FSMI, put together on the first day of my "retreat"!

On Tuesday afternoon, I and about 40 other Bay Area/Napa Valley Wedding Planners were treated to an afternoon/evening of sheer pleasure and relaxation, at Sonoma Mission Inn, a venue where each of us would love to coordinate a wedding! We were welcomed with cocktails, the music of Laurent Fourgo Ensemble, and the smiling faces of Kelly and Jill, as well as the the upper level management team at FSMI.
Entering the room, I was excited to see beloved wedding planner colleagues, including Jubilee Lau, Carrie Taopian, Duncan Reyes, and Michelle Barrionuevo-Mazzini.

After enjoying such luscious appetizers as lobster mac and cheese, butternut soup shots, and lamb slider sandwiches, we were taken on a tour of the beautiful wedding and reception venues on property, as well as the elaborate Mission Suites, and the luxurious Sonoma Mission Inn Spa, the largest spa in the country, with its own thermal water source. I was particularly attentive, as I knew I would be back the next day to take full advantage of all the Spa had to offer! (Details later!)

After our tour of the Spa, we were whisked away in the California Wine Tour bus, for unknown destinations. Kelly and Jill were very secretive about what was awaiting us, but somehow we all knew it was going to be amazing!

Kelly McClesky, of the SMI, and Soo Bazzano, Sales Manager of California Wine Tours

Cay Lemon and Rebecca Reategui on the bus!

Our bus delivered us to the entrance of the Sonoma Mission Inn Golf Club, another wedding and reception venue available for use through the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. I had the pleasure of coordinating a wedding at this venue in October of last year; it features classic Spanish architecture, both inside and out, with tile and brick detail; the reception room looks out over acres of green manicured greens, to the hills in the distance. It was especially nice to be a guest at the venue this time, instead of the one coordinating all the details of a wedding reception. I could really relax and enjoy the atmosphere and beauty.

And relax I did! After personalized back rubs and hand massages, provided by the staff of the SMI Spa, who had driven over with their equipment to meet us, plus lots of shrimp, oysters, and pink champagne, we were again invited onto the bus for the final surprise destination of the evening.

After a beautiful drive up a grape vine covered hill side, we exited the bus onto a red carpet, which led us into a candle-lit cave.. I had never visited the Benziger Family Winery, but I had heard about the wonderful events held in the extensive under ground wine storage cave. Now I was a guest at one of those events!
As we moved through the twists and turns of the cave, we were offered tastes of several of Benziger's most popular wines, with descriptions of how the grapes are grown, harvested, pressed, and stored in the custom-made barrels all around us. Our host was one of the Benziger family members!

Duncan and Michelle were particularly interested in the Flavor Wheel!

After our last tasting, a delicious Petite Sirah, we were ushered into the final surprise: a five course candle-lit dinner, catered by the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, with strolling musicians from Laurent Fourgo's group.

For the next 2 and a half hours, we all enjoyed the convivial atmosphere of being with good friends, in an elegant setting, while being served some of the best food and wine we could imagine.
Thank you to Kelly, Jill, and the staff of Benziger Winery for giving us such an amazing treat!

The great team who generously donated their time and resources for the Wedding Coordinator event included:
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, www.fairmont.com
Benziger Family Winery, www.benziger.com
California Wine Tours and Transportation, www.californiawinetours.com
Dandelion Floral Art, www.danelionfloral.com
Hartmann Studios, www.hartmannstudiosrentals.com
Michelle Walker, www.michellewalker.com
Peculiar Pair Press, www.peculiarpairpress.com
Classic Party Rental, www.classicpartyrental.com
La Tavola, www.latavola.com
Laurent Fourgo and his Ensemble, www.laurentfourgo.com

(Part two of this blog entry will describe the next phase of my relaxing, personal getaway in the Sonoma area!)


Jun said...

What a beautiful venue! That seems like the perfect place to host an event while enjoying the authentic atmosphere of Sonoma. It's places like this that make the Sonoma County a real treasure. www.davinewinetours.com

Gary said...

Awesome awesome pictures! That seriously looks like an awesome trip you guys had while going on some wine tours. Let me get this right, you were at the Sonoma Mission? Have you ever heard of Napa Valley wine tours? Apparently they take you around in a Napa Valley limousine and everything! I definitely want to try it out.