Searching for small wedding venues in San Diego can be akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. Wedding planning is by no means an easy task, and some couples agonize over the hunt for the “right” venue that accurately reflects them. There are so many places, so many other couples vying for the same dates, and only so many weekends to schedule these coveted appointments. It’s easy for Brides and Grooms to get caught up in the whirlwind of venue shopping. Enter Cordiano Winery.

small wedding venue in san diego ceremony
Candlelight wedding ceremonies are a must when the sun is setting at Cordiano Winery.
– Something Minted Photography

Coronavirus’ Impact on Wedding Planning

Generally speaking, hotels and events spaces are built for large gatherings. These venues cater to larger functions like trade shows, business symposiums and galas, and extensive 200+ guest weddings. But now that the Coronavirus has upended thousands of Brides and Grooms’ plans, this problem becomes even more apparent. If you are able to keep your current venue and downsize your guest count, that’s ideal! But what about all the Brides recently engaged during Coronavirus that want to get married within the next 12-14 months? If there is no vaccine during that timeframe, social distancing is our only way to mitigate around this pandemic.

bride and groom's first look at the Rancho Bernardo Inn
– Stuck With Pins Photography

No one wants to wear clothing that doesn’t fit them, and couples shouldn’t have to get married in a space that doesn’t “fit” them either. The pandemic has put a priority on smaller gatherings, and couples planning weddings in San Diego want to find more intimate spaces that can cater to their unique needs and new state guidelines. With the potential for limited interactions like dancing, what kind of a venue can give guests something else to look at instead of four blank walls or an empty dance floor?

One Size does not Fit all.

Imagine you’re having a beautiful, intimate garden wedding for 50 guests on a small lawn. After the ceremony, a quaint patio hosts celebratory cocktails and hand passed hors d’oeuvres. For dinner, your guests are invited inside a 500 capacity reception room for the remainder of the evening. Doesn’t that seem a bit incongruent?

small-wedding-venue-in-san-diego-ceremony
Opened this past March 2020, an outdoor ceremony for 25 on their newly opened private terrace.
– All Good Things Photography

With the need for wedding venues to have more intimate areas to better accommodate their clients, it makes sense to start looking for more untraditional places to host your celebration. Smaller, boutique hotels are a great option, and so are some restaurants on the coast for beautiful sunset photos. Another great option is San Diego’s wine country. (Yes, there is one!)

San Diego is not synonymous with wineries, like its’ northern brethren Temecula, Paso Robles, and Sonoma. However, Highland Valley and its’ surroundings provide some beautiful options for those couples looking for something off the beaten path and without a view of the Pacific.

small-wedding-venue-in-san-diego-reception-view
The view is hard to beat, especially when spending it with your guests.
– True Photography

Cordiano Winery: A Small Wedding Venue in San Diego

Cordiano Winery came onto the wedding scene in 2011. The first and only winery in San Diego with a restaurant and wine-making license, this establishment is Italian at heart. Selected for its’ uncanny similarities to the Tuscan countryside, visitors flood Cordiano’s sun drenched terraces and bocce ball court that perch on the edge of the valley. The Winery not only offers its’ wine, but also has a full service restaurant that is well known for the best thing ever created by man – pizza.

The right side of the Cordiano Winery property is solely for weddings and events, while the restaurant is on the left. The private terrace offers a perfect amount of space for a socially distanced reception of 25-75 guests, and the parking lot has more than enough space. The private room is completely covered in windows to maximize the view. And most importantly, the room doesn’t seem too massive or cramped to hold this number of guests. The free flowing design of the three patios together offers guests constant movement from one area to the next, with two out of the three terraces being outside.

Cordiano Winery's signature views
When the sun sets, everyone gets their cameras. Weddings actually have a sunset time scheduled into their wedding timeline to allow for everybody to enjoy and take it in.
– Brogen Jessup

Cordiano Winery’s Views are Reminiscent of the Tuscan Countryside.

The extensive windows create a feeling of openness once inside the patio, along with its’ exposed wood ceiling and twinkling lights. At the back of the terrace is an entrance to their newly constructed private terrace. This unfolds into a large enough space for an intimate ceremony or cocktail hour of up to 50 or 60 guests, all surrounded by the panoramic views of the valley and verdant hillside.

winery-small-wedding-venue-in-san-diego
Currently holding at 30 acres, the Winery is constantly expanding, but Nature surrounds every guest wherever they look.
– All Good Things Photography

Another welcome feature is how quiet it is. Except for the occasional car traversing along the windy road, or the birds chirping, the valley is peaceful, even when the winery is able to be at full capacity. Though this is not the typical San Diego venue with crowded beaches, downtown skyline, or trendy hotels nearby it is still a beautiful spot. It’s a completely different atmosphere; almost magical one might say.

Like Father, Like Son

The Winery also caters all of its’ events, though pizza isn’t a viable option for a wedding of 75 unfortunately. Their menu includes traditional Italian fare, and yes, they are family recipes. When the owners, Rosa Maria and Gerardo moved from Calabria back in the 70s, they brought with them their expansive food and wine background.

Settling in New Orleans, the family owned and operated 34 pizzerias along the southern United States. Later on they would sell the properties to Sbarro, and move to San Diego to open six full service restaurants. Retiring early, they resided in Rancho Bernardo, but still something just wasn’t right. Gerardo had grown up in the vineyards tending to grapes and making wine for the community, and he missed it terribly. Fast forward to 1992, and Gerry stumbled upon a property up off of Highland Valley Road. The area had been home to avocado groves for decades, but he saw something else.

To the surprise of his neighbors, Gerry pulled out all the avocado trees on that ten acre plot. (There are a couple remaining today- everyone needs guacamole!) And he planted grapes, like his Father had. The region was so similar in climate and terrain to their native southern Italy, he prophesied that this could be the next wine country. It turns out that before Prohibition, San Diego was quite the place for growing grapes and making wine, but that’s another story for a different day.

A Small Wedding Venue in San Diego with a lot of Heart

One could say that Cordiano is the grandfather of San Diego’s wine country. After Gerry planted his grapes, other farmers began to pull out their avocado trees as well and plant. The re-emergence of the wine industry in San Diego owes quite a bit to this family. His foresight and perseverance has definitely made an impact on the city. So, why, then, have you never heard of them?

Cordiano Winery is a small wedding venue in San Diego that likes to keep it simple. No fancy ads or billboards, just word of mouth. And that’s exactly why so many Brides and Grooms love it. The winery isn’t a sprawling commercial compound that offers numerous areas to get married. This is definitely not a wedding factory that cycles through two weddings a day, or even a weekend. No, the Winery handles one wedding per week, sometimes one every two weeks at most. Why? Because it’s about the quality, not the quantity.

Bride and Groom at Cordiano Winery
No matter the season, Brides and Grooms fall in love with Cordiano’s views.
– Something Minted Photography

Let’s Focus on What Really Matters

The personal connection with customers is different at this venue, and that holds true with their wedding program. Directed by Kimberly Sisti, of Sisti&Co, Cordiano’s one woman wedding department approaches wedding planning with a different perspective.

winery table setting
– Alice Ahn Photography

The Winery does not require extensive work on the couple’s end either to make amazing things happen. Each wedding is styled and designed with the couple in mind. There are no outdated banquet chairs to cover, nor are there any polyester table linens to worry about either. Kim rents and selects each component to fit the vision of the couples’ inspiration board and price range. Send over a few ideas and watch how a beautiful wedding comes together from only one design meeting.

small wedding reception table at Cordiano Winery
Full service planning and design is included for all Brides.
– Sisti Photography

Need to have a wine tasting? Sisti&Co. handles it for you and directly works with Cordiano to take care of all the details. And no, this service doesn’t cost additional. No additional coordination is required or expected. If you’re a busy couple that cannot dedicate much time to wedding planning, this venue might be worth considering. The reviews alone speak for themselves. With the added stress of planning a wedding during Coronavirus in the forefront of all Brides’ minds nowadays, this venue makes it easy to relax and focus on what’s most important- you and your family. If there is anything that we have learned throughout the course of this pandemic, it’s to simplify and celebrate life. Spending time with loved ones and family means more now than ever.

Bride and Groom enjoying Cordiano Winery's view
It’s all about you, and the winery’s sunset.
– Brogen Jessup

Advice

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May 27, 2020

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