Eden Rift Opens New Wedding and Events Center Among Oaks and Vines
Gavilan Vale offers a stylish alternative to the sites of Napa, Sonoma and Monterey.
The Cienega Valley is known for over 170 years and is one of the most treasured places in San Benito County. Now Eden Rift Wine Estate, in the heart of the valley, has created a new place. Eden Rift will now share the site with people looking for a place to hold weddings or events among the old oak trees overlooking historic vineyards.
Located in a remote corner of the winery, adjacent to a large block of Pinot Noir vines,
Gavilan Valley is, according to Eden Rift owner Christian Pillsbury, a happy outcome of the pandemic.
“If you were selling $20 cabernets online, you did pretty well,” he said. “But if you have a more sensitive story with your wine, it was a lot more work. So the two options were to slowly wind down our activities or start working harder and take on a new project.
Pillsbury worked with the Support group, a San Francisco-based event planning firm, to select the site and design the facility. Now complete, there have already been a dozen events in Gavilan Vale, including a fundraiser for Congressman Jimmy Panetta ahead of recent district changes.
“We are really excited about Gavilan Vale,” said Liz Curtis, CEO of Fulcrum Group. “Engages have increased during the pandemic and we thought it would be the perfect time to jump into this space. Napa is really inundated with weddings right now and we haven’t seen much value there. Once we saw Eden Rift, we all fell in love with the place.
There are three spaces defined in the event center. The Ceremonial Deck, the lowest deck closest to the causeway, provides ample space for a wedding and the spectacular panoramic backdrop of the meticulously tended vineyard.
“Most of the wineries where you can get married don’t have their locations on the vines,” Curtis said. “So it’s something special that we were able to incorporate here.”
The Cocktail Hour Deck is slightly up the hill from there, with the same basic design and the inclusion of a few oak trees growing through the deck.
“The idea was to keep it as close to nature as possible,” Pillsbury said. “We wanted to showcase the softness and warmth of the wood and use the trees as a canopy. We didn’t have to cut them, we just built around them.
Above is the Ballroom Deck, a glass-sided, tented platform completely surrounded by oak trees with an unobstructed view of the other decks and vineyards.
“We wanted the feeling of being in a tree house, again integrating into the natural landscape,” Pillsbury said. “We wanted the venue to have a very light on-the-ground feel that would speak to the types of events people might want to have here.”
The Gavilan Vale complex is located in a rear area of the estate and is not visible from the main public areas, such as the tasting room. At night, chandeliers hanging from the oak trees illuminate the two lower decks. And, with no close neighbors, there are no noise restrictions or curfews for events held there.