sunstone villa as a france inspired wedding venue

Why Sunstone Winery and Villa may be the next best thing to a French wedding venue

All the details you want to know about Sunstone Winery and Villa as your wedding venue from the perspective of a France-loving photographer

If you know me, you’ll know that France is my favourite place to photograph and spend my free time (see my recent trip through France, and my favourite styled shoot at Chateau Moissac Bellevue). I know I am not alone in my obsession with it. A wedding in France is a dream for many brides and grooms, yet the logistics can make it impossible. Because of this, many couples are searching for a wedding venue that feels French in the United States. Today I am going to share about Sunstone Winery and Villa as a wedding venue in Santa Ynez, CA, and the unique details that make it feel like you’ve stepped into France.

In this post I’m going to break down the key elements that make Sunstone feel “nearly” French

  • The unique sunlight at Sunstone.
  • The atmosphere and feel of the venue and surrounding countryside.

I will also touch on two other important points if you are considering having your wedding at Sunstone

  • What style and size of wedding is best suited for Sunstone Winery.
  • My favourite hotels and airbnbs for guest lodging.

The unique “Provençal” light at Sunstone Winery and Villa

Sunstone Villa at sunset in Santa Ynez, California

There are a few places in the world where I have experienced the light to be truly golden; Provence, Tuscany and Southern California. In California, I’ve found the Santa Ynez region to offer the most similar unique golden light that is famous to Provence.

As a bride and groom (who are not photographers) you may wonder if this golden light can really make a difference for your wedding. My answer is 100% yes. Imagine it as the best ambiance money can buy, but it’s just coming from the sky. On top of the light making your wedding more magical, it will also make your photos that much more spectacular.

As a photographer I can only capture what is actually in front of me, so lighting makes all the difference in the world. This is the reason photographers are often called “light chasers”. To give you a visual, imagine yourself as the subject of a painting, and we (your photographers) are using the light to paint you with. With that in mind, think of your most precious memories – all of the joy and happy tears and sweetness, all captured in a way that makes the moments instantly frame-able and wonderful pieces of art you can treasure for the rest of your lives.

The geographic placement of Sunstone’s Villa in relation to the sun and surrounding hillside is another huge draw as it is easy to photograph from so many angles, with endless options to photograph no matter what time of day. You may be surprised to hear how rare this is, even at the most sought after and expensive venues.

The Santa Ynez countryside surrounding Sunstone Winery and Villa

Bride at Sunstone Villa and Winery
Bride in vineyard at Sunstone Winery and Villa

At Sunstone there is not a direction you can look where you don’t see endless rolling hills of vineyards. There are birds chirping and not a car to be heard. This rural element of Sunstone takes you out of Santa Ynez, CA and right into Provence. If you’ve ever attended a wedding in France you’ll know the beauty of it isn’t just the stunning castles or estates, the countryside surrounding it is equally as important.

A shocking amount of the French inspired U.S. venues I’ve seen and shot at are smack dab in the middle of a city, or too close to other buildings or roads to give that desired experience of seclusion. Sunstone Villa is on a hill in the middle of the winery that allows for endless vistas to bask in all day. Essentially this gives you the experience of the gorgeous rolling French countryside without the cost of the plane tickets.

Not only does this make for incredible images of every moment of your wedding, it’s also a gift to your guests and to yourselves. If you are anything like me, nature offers calm, something we all want more of in both our lives and especially on our wedding days.

More photos of Sunstone Winery and Villa

We all know that photos are worth a thousand words, so I’ve included additional images to help you get an idea of the villa.

Sunstone Winery and Villa shot on film in Santa Ynez, California

Near the front entrance of the Villa.

Bride at Sunstone Winery and Villa
The front right of the villa.
Wedding floral arrangement in Sunstone Winery and Villa
The entry way of the villa.
Bride getting ready at Sunstone Villa
The balcony off the main guest room at the back of the villa.
Bride walking outdoors at Sunstone Villa
The back courtyard.

What style and size of wedding is Sunstone Villa and Winery best suited for?

Sunstone Vineyards and Winery doesn’t offer any indoor space for hosting and the outdoor area by the villa that is open enough to do seating is limited, so our suggestion would be intimate to mid-size weddings. Naturally your wedding planner would be the expert on this and could provide you with details about what is possible for your wedding.

Inside Sunstone Villa and Winery

Bridal boudoir in Sunstone Winery and Villa

The indoors of Sunstone is consistently beautiful, like the exterior. The aesthetic details of the walls, flooring and decor are cohesive with a French venue. That said, the rooms are few and on the smaller side, and window light is limited. For photography purposes I’d plan on limited time indoors with only small groups. For example, getting ready shots of the bride and groom or creative bridals would be perfect in this space. Larger groups or any kind of activity indoors will likely be too tight to photograph easily. The outdoors of Sunstone is really where it shines.

The best hotels, and airbnb’s near Sunstone Villa and Winery for guest lodging

Finding cute and trendy hotels or airbnb for your guests can be difficult when you’re doing a destination wedding, so I’ve made a list of my favourite boutique hotels.

Santa Ynez

The Landsby – A favourite of mine! Modern and chic, with a great outdoor courtyard for late night cocktails and snacks.

Santa Ynez Inn

Ballard Inn and Gathering

Airbnb Ranch – Fits 16 people with 9 bedrooms on a stunning property.

Santa Barbara

The Ritz Carlton

Hotel Californian – Another favourite – Sophisticated and architecturally beautiful, with a bit of spunk.

Belmond El Encanto

Rosewood Miramar

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