Venues: Creating a Wedding Destination
Casa Real takes advantage of the view, the vineyards and the proximity to San Franciscoby Carl Sacks | Published in January 2010 venues | Departments
Many of the best-known wine regions in the United States, including the Napa Valley in California, the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Finger Lakes region of New York, are highly regarded for their scenic beauty. As such, they are popular destination wedding locations, and wineries are frequent reception and ceremony sites.
The Livermore Valley area of Northern California is not as well known as some other California wine regions, but it has its own long history of distinguished winemaking. The Valley is also quite scenic, surrounded by rolling hills that create a beautiful backdrop reflecting a golden-hued glow across the vineyards at twilight.
Another unique characteristic of the Livermore Valley compared to most other well-known wine regions is that it is part of greater San Francisco. It is within a short drive from most of the area, including the famed Silicon Valley region.
Several of the Livermore Valley wineries offer space for events, but one of the most interesting operating models is that of Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery. This purpose-built event center is extraordinarily popular, and since its inception has captured a substantial segment of the Livermore Valley events market. Casa Real is popular not only for weddings, but for other social, corporate, and nonprofit events as well.
Foodservice at Casa Real is operated by Beets Catering. One of the most prominent off-premise caterers in the Livermore Valley, Beets has a history of catering success going back almost 25 years. The company is highly regarded for its food, as well as for its customer-service philosophy.
Casa Real encompasses a 20,000-square-foot event space, plus an additional 5,000 square feet to house the winery and tasting room for Ruby Hill. A dramatic fountain near the main entrance is one of several water features. The surrounding patio and lawns effectively add a great deal to the capacity of the venue, since the weather in this inland location is typically dry and sunny during the wedding season.
Many ceremonies are held outside on the grounds, with the vineyards and the mountains providing an impressive tableau. The Sun Garden is a walled exterior courtyard with elegant water features, and is frequently used for pre-function cocktail hours.
The interior of Casa Real is designed for both visual impact and flexibility. The custom-built massive mahogany doors open into an impressive two-story foyer, which can be used for guests to assemble before the wedding ceremony. In addition to the popular outdoor terraces and lawns, there is a separate indoor space called the Amber Room where wedding ceremonies are held in front of a massive stone fireplace.
The single largest room, the Grand Salon, can accommodate up to 550 people for a seated event. Even though the exterior of Casa Real is clearly designed with a Mediterranean feel, the main event space is relatively neutral in ambience, with light colored earth tones and Mediterranean Revival finishes as distinguishing features. This allows a designer to remake the room without having to expend many resources on masking the existing décor.
Even though weddings are the largest single market for Casa Real, the venue also is popular for corporate and institutional events. There are smaller rooms available as breakout spaces, and the entire facility is blanketed with wireless internet. State-of-the-art audiovisual and lighting are easily available.
As is the case with many or most winery event spaces, the concept of terroir is as important for the chefs in menu development as it is for the winemaker. To the extent possible, recipes and menus are selected using as many local ingredients as possible. Considering the Livermore Valley’s proximity to the massive Central Valley growing region, many products can be sourced very close by. The menus at offered at Casa Real have a definite Mediterranean flair, though a wide selection of custom menus are used for many events.
As is the case with most winery event venues the winery provides the wines for virtually all of the events. Since Ruby Hill wines are highly regarded and offer good value, the clients are happy to serve them to their guests.
While a majority of the parties at Casa Real are weekend weddings, the venue also does a number of weekday corporate, non-profit, and other social events. Event buyers are from all over the Bay Area, with many taking the short drive from San Francisco proper, or from the San Jose and Santa Clara region of the South Bay.
Additionally, the Livermore Valley area is home to satellite offices for many tech firms, as well as the massive Livermore National Laboratory. The designed-in capacity and flexibility of Casa Real, its scenic location, and the quality of its hospitality make it a superb and desirable event site.