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Venue Spotlight: Mendocino Wedding Venue | Campovida


I recently came up with the idea to do venue spotlights, as a way to get to know more of the lovely spaces and the folks who run them in and around the Bay Area. Basically, an excuse to get away from my computer, get out into the world, interact with humans, breathe some fresh air and get to know some of the gorgeous and varied wedding locations in Northern California. I like to call it “the San Francisco Bay Area “, but my notion of that is quite liberal, stretching from Monterey all the way up into Mendocino. Basically, if I can drive there and back comfortably in one day, it’s game :). The magical Mendocino winery and event venue, Campovida was on my list from day 1, and since I serendipitously ran into the Sidrah (one of their awesome event coordinators) during my visit to the Tyge William Barn venue opening party, I instantly decided it needed to be first up.

So on an absolutely perfect spring day in May, I grabbed my buddy Nicole of 43rd Ave photo, and we made the 2 hour drive up to Mendocino (1.5-2 hours north of Nicole’s place in San Francisco, about 3 hours north of my San Jose home base). I really love road trips – being blessed with a three step commute from my bedroom to my office, the occasional drive through California landscape is often a welcome adventure. Campovida is a 50 acre organic farm, vineyard, winery, event venue, garden – basically heaven on earth – nestled in the small Mendocino town of Hopland. Driving up to the venue through the fields of growing grapes, dusty roads and that special type of quiet you only get in the country, I felt I could breathe deeper.

As we drove in, parked, and looked around, I instantly felt what would become a theme throughout the afternoon: that Campovida was at once a place which was comfy, homey, welcoming, while also carrying a sense of grace and exquisite intentionality. It is curated but natural, high class without the slightest touch of stuffiness – a beautiful balance of carefully maintained gardens and vineyards, easily blending into the wildness of the countryside. In short, I was tempted to move there and never leave.

Nicole and I were welcomed in the best way, with a delicious wine tasting. We then got to sit down with Event Coordinators Sidrah and Deborah to chat a bit about the property. Sidrah shared with me some of the incredible history of the space. Before it was a winery, a wedding venue, a farm, it was home to the Pomo Indians – and while the ownership of the property has changed hands several times since then, the tradition of gathering there has continued on. Most of the buildings on the property, including the hop barn, green barn and tasting room were built in the 1890s. At that time, it was a stock farm for animals.  After being a stock farm, the farm tranistioned to a hop farm there were sent down to a little brewery called Budweiser. At various points in time, it was a pear orchard, a vineyard and it has been owned by many different families. It’s current incarnation as a hospitality center was really brought around by the Fetzer family in the 1980s. They are the ones who re-designed the barns into the venue’s 10 rooms for overnight guests, the cottage (now used by couples during their wedding weekend) as well as installed the pool and organic garden. Their goal was to use the space as a place to educate about organic gardening and farming.  The learning arbor they installed, which showcases different varietals of grapes, is now where most of the wedding ceremonies at Campovida take place. The garden has had many gardeners and one in particular, Kate Frey, focused on creating a full sensory experience for visitors. The Fetzer family sold the property to Brown Forman in 1992.  Brown Forman closed the property down in 2006.  In November of 2008, Gary happened to be in the area and when he saw the property, he instantly fell in love. It was not at all what he was planning or looking for at the time, but sometimes love hits you when you least expect it. He brought his wife Anna up to Hopland, and with a passion for reclamation and education, they decided to make an offer on the property.  It took 18 months to negotiate the deal, but they closed on May 1, 2010.  They have worked hard to bring the property back to life and into it’s current glory.  They named it Campovida – a combination of the Spanish words “campo”, meaning field or countryside and “vida” meaning life. Now Campovida is a vineyard, a winery, a wedding venue, a garden, an educational center (where they hold DO Lectures every summer), and an all around magical place.

As for weddings at Campovida – they are a full weekend extravaganza. You can have your ceremony under the learning arbor and your reception in the Tuscan garden or the barn. When you and your bridal party stay in the on-site Inn, you’re not just visitors, you’re family. You can enjoy the grounds, grab some wine, spend quality time with your family and friends. This place is all about community, and when you get married here you’re taken care of and truly hosted. And really, even if you’re not getting married any time soon, when you come visit you still have the sense of being welcomed with open arms. By the grounds, by the fields and gardens, by the people here. Don’t just take my word for it – take a day and visit. Drive up the winding road through the country side, taste some wine, have a chat, wander through the gardens. On your way out, stop by their restaurant, in town Piazza de Campovida. You’ll be glad you did.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but even just being there was a spiritual experience for me. I could talk about it for days, but I think the pictures will do my talking for me :).

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Mendocino Wedding Photographer Juniper Spring Photography visits the Mendocino Wedding Venue: Campovida.


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