This story was originally published in the Chicago Tribune brand publishing special section Off The Vine.
Vinyards by nature are picturesque and romantic with their rolling hills and rows of vines sweeping out over the landscape.
That makes a vineyard a classic place to host a wedding, says Kim Bunbury, events manager at Aurora Cellars in Lake Leelanau, Michigan. “People have been doing this for a long time, but it’s becoming more popular in the Midwest.”
From an intimate ceremony among the vines to a barn party for 200 or a fancy affair at an Italian-style estate, there are many Midwestern wineries and vineyards that “do weddings.”
In fact, some of the newer wineries were designed specifically for that purpose. They offer on-site accommodations and food and beverage packages. While some vineyard wedding venues are summer-only, others operate year-round. All provide the magic of getting married in a one-of-a-kind destination — plus the chance to enjoy local wines.
Aurora Cellars, which opened two years ago, is tailor made for weddings. The look and feel of the place is modern-rustic. It has two outdoor event spaces for different size weddings, accommodating up to 300 people. One space is adjacent to a restored Victorian farmhouse overlooking a pond and vineyards. “It’s perfect for an extended stay destination wedding,” Bunbury says.
Weddings of fewer than 100 people are held on a terrace off the tasting room and include a bridal suite for getting ready. This package also offers food catered by a third-generation Italian deli. “Our tasting room is very European and we have a huge bar and patio attached, covered with a tent. The reception is held out there,” Bunbury says. On average, couples can expect to spend $10,000 for a wedding package there, Bunbury says.
When planning a wedding outdoors, you always want a plan B in case of bad weather, whether that be a tent or a building on the property.
At Over the Vines in Edgerton, Wisconsin, couples have the run of the entire eight-acre property, which includes a private vineyard and a 19th-century restored barn.“Some couples have their ceremony in the vineyard and the reception in the barn, but they can always move the ceremony indoors if need be,” says co-owner Billie Kratky. The private event venue has been booked solid since it opened in 2013.
“It’s for relaxed, outdoorsy couples who want to give their guests a different feel,” Kratky says. “We’ve had California couples who went to college in Wisconsin and want to bring in some of that vineyard feeling from their home state. We’ve also had Wisconsin couples who have grown up on farms and want to bring that nostalgia back.”
If you want a Midwest vineyard wedding with European flair, that’s available too. Many wineries have European origins, such as Acquaviva Winery in Maple Park, Illinois. Founder Vito Brandonisio learned the craft of winemaking from his grandfather in Italy. He eventually created a 40-acre winery estate with a 20,000-square-foot facility for tasting and events in luxurious Italian style.
Acquaviva Winery boasts amazing architecture and hand-painted fine art by world renowned artist Andrew Zabela. It allows the couple to have a vineyard setting for their wedding of up to 230 guests in all four seasons.
A bed and breakfast is set to open on the property soon.