Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wedding Week: Friday and Saturday

This is wedding week post number two. Click here to read Part One. Friday morning we were greeted by more wedding guests, 65 to be exact. Everyone loaded two buses and we set out for a day of wine tasting in Sonoma. This is a great picture of Jim with his dad. Ummm... Jim, are you double fisting there??

Our first stop of the day was Geyser Peak Winery, a place our family accidentally stumbled upon in 2004 or so when looking for "one last winery to visit before they all close." We struck GOLD here! They make some absolutely wonderful wine, especially their port!

My dad greeted the crowd and we toasted to our happiness and kicked off a very fun filled day in Sonoma. There were my friends, Jim's friends, my family and Jim's was a gaggle of people who were just beginning to meet each other, and it felt like a cocktail party at 10:30 AM.

We tasted six of the best wines, sparklers and ports Geyser Peak had to offer. Fantastic! One of my favorites is an unusual 2005 Block Collection Sparkling Shiraz. Of course the Tawny Port is exceptional.

My mom mingling with the Gibbs group from California. Now THIS is a group that KNOWS wine.

Deedee and Aunt Kate enjoying the views from our veranda.

Jim and I with his Grandfather. We were so glad he made the road trip all the way from Oklahoma to celebrate with us. What a trooper!

Four generations of men from Jim's family, including the newest edition, Baby Ben!

My brother and I on either side of our cousin Johnny. This is the entry way of Geyser Peak, and we snapped this photo just before loading the buses and heading to our next stop.

Silver Oak! Oh, what great wine - and the absolute reason we held our wedding in wine country. True Story: My dad was a beer drinker until the CEO of his company shared with him a bottle of Silver Oak. It was my dad's "Aha" moment. My dad took our family to wine country after my younger brother turned 21. We all caught that "wine bug" also. Since then, I've been tasting, learning, tasting, reading, and love wine. When I met Jim he liked wine, but after going to some tastings with me, he caught the wine bug also. It's such a fascinating "hobby" because wine is always changing. You will never meet someone who can say they know all there is to know about wine. Well, they may say that, but it's not true. Wine has become something that Jim and I both enjoy...and it all started with an excellent bottle of Silver Oak.

My girlfriends, Allyson, Taylor and Elke in the Silver Oak tasting room at the conclusion of our tour.

Jim with his friend Rich.

My grandparents, Bill and Barbara.

Following Silver Oak, we headed up the road to Trentadue Winery. This was a tasting and lunch stop for us.

We pre-ordered box lunches from Oakville Grocery to be delivered to the winery for us. I enjoyed a vegetarian lunch that had a caprese sandwich of basil, tomato, mozzarella and a pesto smear on ciabatta.

During lunch, the winery poured several wines for us to try.

One of my favorites is their Chocolate Amore. This Merlot-based, port styled chocolate flavored dessert wine is great over vanilla ice cream or as a stand-alone dessert.

The vineyards of Trentadue were too beautiful to pass up. Just look at the backdrop, gorgeous mountain range.

The last stop of the day was a big treat. The Director, Francis Ford Coppola, makes a great variety of wine in several estates across wine country. Our visit was in Sonoma at a new location, still under construction.

Our tour and tasting was held in their wine making facility. This is the 2008 Directors Cut Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Tasting Notes: Honeysuckle, baked pineapple, exotic spices, pear, green apple and vanilla creme.

The real treat on the tour was tasting straight from the barrel. Before the wine is finished aging and before it is bottled, we get to take a sneak peak and imagine what the future bottled product will be like.

"Cheers my dear!"

The ORIGINAL wine club: Elke, Me and Taylor. I love these girls, not just because they are wino's like me, but they are great people.

Friday evening, Jim and I had our rehearsal dinner out in the caves of Bella Vineyards. We called this our "Pre-Nuptial Dinner" because without a wedding party, we really didn't have anything to rehearse. This was a truly special event, and you will see what I mean when you watch the Flash Slideshow at the end of this post.

Jim and I arrived about 15 minutes ahead of the rest of our group. It gave us the chance to take a deep breath and start sipping on Zin Fiz, served by Bella. It is their delicious combination of Late Harvest Zin and a splash of champagne. When the bus pulled up to the top of the hill, Jim and I greeted our guests and led them up the walkway to the main house. The views were fabulous!

At 7 PM, Jim and I gathered our guests out of the main house and led them to this cave entrance. Jim gave a short and sweet speech thanking everyone for making the trip to be with us on our wedding day. Then we opened the doors and saw this...

A King's table ran all the way down the center of the cave.

Candles everywhere, provided soft lighting in the dim space.
A beautiful raw linen table cloth, set with several wine glasses made a lovely pallet for what we were about to be served.

First Course - Halibut "Cioppino"
Marinated with saffron and garlic, seared and served with cioppino sauce.

Second Course - Filet of Beef
Marinated and grilled natural beef with Late Harvest Zinfandel sauce served with savory spoon bread of caramelized onion and fontina cheese and garlic green beans.

Desert Course - Chocolate Beet Cake
Chocolate and beet sponge layered with chocolate mouse and dusted with almond praline with blackberries in red wine syrup and vanilla ice cream.

Here are some pictures that you will NOT see in my photographers slideshow! This is AFTER HOURS Friday evening. We all went back to the hotel where we had lots more wine, beer and port. We could have hung out for hours but apparently our party upset some of the other guests at the hotel and we had to shut it down.

Chilly nights called for me to put on my "bride" sweatsuit. Yes, you are looking at my behind on Friday evening after the Pre-Nuptial Dinner.  To see photos from THE MAIN EVENT on Saturday, click on the link below.

Here is the menu from the wedding. You will see pictures of each course in the slideshow.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Landmark Vineyards
Mr. and Mrs. Jim Begley Wedding Dinner

Brie Soup with a cream biscuit.

First Course
Truffled Pearls
Pearl Pasta, english white cheddar, truffle oil, mushroom confit, jicama and apple salad.

Second Course
Sea Bass De Vera Cruz
Local sea bass in a traditional Mexican preparation of tomato, green olives, capers and peppers, coriander rice, skinny zucchini, chardonnay wine sauce.

Palate Claeanser
Landmark Pinot Granite in a candied grape leaf.

Third Course
Silky Beef Short Ribs
Beef short ribs, creamy polenta, braised greens, topped with carrot and leek, syrah reduction.

Vegetarian Course (instead of short ribs)
Pumpkin Fontina Ravioli
Roasted pumpkin, fontina cheese, bechamel carrot sauce, on a bed of sauteed baby spinach.

Chocolate Honeycombs, Key Lime Tarts, Chocolate Chipotle Creme Brulee

Click Here for the Photo Slideshow. It will open up a flash slideshow prepared by Julie Mikos who somehow captured every sweet and memorable moment of our wedding day.  Enjoy!


  1. What happy, sweet pictures! I think I want to do my vow renewals at a vineyard someday. Hmmm. I'll put that on my "list."

  2. Congratulations Mandy & Jim!!!

  3. Congrats!!!This is my idea of perfection!!! Looking at all that wine is making me thirsty.

  4. Just saw the slide show, what a dream come true, everything was so beautiful. Really loved that shot of the beef main course. Was that served on a bed of risotto? I have to view the menu again. Made me hungry just looking at it. Also, you have to tell me the name of that song on the slide show. Perfect. You looked so beautiful Mandy. I'm so happy for you two!

  5. What a beautiful wedding! Mandy, you made a gorgeous bride!!! Congratulations!


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