The Santa Ynez Valley is a short drive north over the mountain pass from my home town of Santa Barbara, and is perhaps most known as one of California's premier wine regions. Over the past decade it has also been attracting out-of-towners and locals alike with its growing culinary scene. And when you combine great food, excellent wine, and the most picturesque sprawling vineyards set against the golden hills of the Santa Ynez mountains, you have the perfect formula for destination weddings, celebrations, getaways, retreats and day trips.
Just as FOLD was beginning to expand to include a line of table linens that can be rented for events, I was thrilled to supply a set of linen napkins for a dinner party that brought together some of the best event and hospitality professionals from Santa Barbara and the greater Los Angeles area. It was held on the day of Summer Solstice at Sunstone Villa, located on the same property as the Sunstone Winery and Vineyards. I worked with Percy from Percy Sales Events to choose the style of napkins that would complement both the striking elegance of the classic Italian villa and the worn, reclaimed wood style dinner tables and stoneware plates provided by The Tent Merchant. Percy and I narrowed it down to my best-selling signature FOLD napkins in charcoal grey linen with light grey sashiko stitch detail. Now part of the rental inventory, this style can be used for events up to 80 guests.
The best part about this event: in addition to being a showcasing artisan and vendor, I was also invited to be a guest at the party! I got to enjoy the food and cocktails prepared on-site by Chef Luca Cresta of Santa Ynez Kitchen, wondered around the Villa, and met some pretty inspiring event planners, designers, and other creative professionals who, like me, were in our element for the evening. Here are some of the pictures from the evening.
The Villa is new in the sense of the time it was constructed (2004), but as I learned, its building materials—doors, windows, and other fixtures—were imported from France and are just as old as some of the oldest old world estates. As Annamarie Kostura, the Villa's sales manager told us at dinner, the owners brought forty shipping containers of supplies from France that were discarded after the World War II as a result of the government mandates to either "fix or tear down" old, dilapidating buildings. Where was I when this stuff was sitting on the curb with a "FREE" sign?? But I digress.
In addition to several guest rooms and suites, the Villa has many shared spaces for guests to enjoy such as the office (detail above and below), a spacious kitchen, living and dining rooms, lounge areas, patios and courtyards. There are also multiple nooks and crannies that are the size of individual rooms in my house.
The color palette of the interior is reserved and hushed, the color of limestone permeating throughout the residence. The monochromatic effect creates a sense of calm and peace that appears to be enhanced inside the buildings that have been around for a few hundred years. This one seemed like an old soul to me. A mix of modern and rustic furniture provides a dynamic juxtaposition of old and new.
The outdoor areas are a combination of cosy courtyard spaces and big patches of grass, big enough to accommodate outdoor parties of up to 80 guests. And the views of the mountains and the vineyards are simply breathtaking.
I could keep going about the Villa itself, but it was a dinner party after all, not an architectural tour, so some food photos are very much in order. Chef Luca Cresta and his team prepared the most delicious array of fresh, honest, seasonal Italian food that I have tasted in a long time. The salad course included a green salad with three kinds of green peas, a classic panzanella, and a warm grilled octopus salad. Fresh pasta course with shaved truffles followed, and the main course was grilled salmon and roasted vegetables. Since I was too busy eating, I will use some of Jenny Quicksall's photos of the food below. (Thank you, Jenny!)
At the end of dinner, everyone rode this converted school bus to Santa Ynez Inn to continue the festivities. The bus was provided by Jump on the School Bus, and there was a cooler full of wine on board (that's what I heard). I drove myself home (because, Wednesday). All in all, it was a wonderful evening of networking, enjoying good food and company, and I am really pleased to have met new friends in the event and hospitality industry. A huge thanks to these gracious hosts: