It can be hard to find a place to start in planning your wedding. In my years of event planning a common question I’ve gotten is, “What do guests want most?” It might seem like the answer should be something in the realm of good food, good music or the joy of watching their friends’ romantic dreams come true, but let me save you some time: It’s the free Champagne.

It’s not your friends’ fault. Sparkling wine is just a magical thing. It’s my general philosophy that sparkling wine is perfect for any and all occasions — celebrating the start of a new year, an anniversary, a big accomplishment, the premier of a new season of The Bachelor while sitting in my sweatpants on the couch — but I truly believe that weddings are sparkling wine’s true calling.

Though it’s true that a sparkling wine cannot be called “Champagne” unless it hails from Champagne, France, the magic of sparkling wine can be tapped no matter its point of origin. Luckily for us, our local craft beverage makers have dabbled in this alchemy and captured the celebratory powers of bubbly in the form of sparkling wines, ciders and even kombucha. So to help you check this item off of your planning list, here are my favorite toast-worthy local bevs.

click to enlarge AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
When I started my research for this list, two stood out as obvious, classic choices: Septentrio and Moonstone Crossing. Both wineries have brut rosés produced in a traditional method that makes for clear, beautifully blush wines with lively bubbles that are sure to fill a best man with the courage to make a tasteful speech (we can only hope, anyway). Septentrio Winery’s sparkling is made from Humboldt County, estate-grown pinot noir and has flavors of pomegranate, gala apple and brioche. Moonstone Crossing’s sparkling wine is made from a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from Clement Hills and has flavors of strawberry, vanilla, raspberry and golden delicious apples. Another, more traditional option is in the works with Heart’s Leap Winery, and will likely be finished and released this spring. A blanc de blanc, this is a white sparkling made from Lake County riesling and, though it will undergo some changes preceding its release, it has a touch of sweetness with flavors of pastry, golden delicious apples and pear.

click to enlarge AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
But this is Humboldt. I know some of y’all are looking for some options that are less traditional. In thinking about alternative options, the first thing that came to mind was Briceland Vineyard’s pét nat. Pét nats, or petillant naturel wines, are naturally sparkling wines made without the step of removing the yeast which remains after fermenting in the bottle, leaving it to remain at the bottom as sediment. Ironically, pét nats, which predate the “traditional” sparkling wines, are making a comeback to get your bridesmaids dancing ’til they ditch their heels. Briceland has multiple pét nats, but my personal favorite is a rosé of merlot, gewurztraminer and Jupiter grapes and is just weird enough to be hipster, and tasty enough to fit the occasion with flavors reminiscent of an English cider.

click to enlarge AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
Also bubbly and giggle-inducing, cider is just as likely to convince your dad that he’s an excellent dancer. Humboldt Cider Co. is producing approximately 1,000 different ciders (not an accurate figure, just seems like a reasonable guess) but my top choice is Friends with Benefits. The irony of the name does not escape me but this cider is delicious enough to commit to. It’s a combination of Fuji, gala, granny Smith and golden delicious apples from Placerville with the addition of Citra and Simcoe hops, making for a clean finish. My top choice from Wrangletown Cider Co. is the Fieldbrook Nursery Orchard, which has an especially craft vibe with labels on the bottles detailing the local history from which the company’s name was derived. It’s also got a uniquely delicate cider with a creamy finish and just a slight funkiness that makes it stand out from more classic toasting selections.

And finally, as an alternative to all things boozy, there is kombucha. Now listen, I was pretty darn positive I didn’t like kombucha at all. But I went and tasted it for you healthy people out there and I have to admit it’s delicious and I liked everything I tried. It’s Alive Kombucha is a local production that has a variety of flavors, some consistently and some seasonally, and is the perfect option for non-drinking guests and to slow folks down if you’re worried about a drunk, wild-card snagging the mic and saying something inappropriate. Tastings are by appointment only and if you don’t like what’s on offer (unlikely), or you just want to feel extra special, the brewers will help you create your own unique blend for your wedding.

As overwhelming as planning a wedding can be, the reality is that everyone is there because they love you and want to celebrate with you. And I know no better way to celebrate than with something bubbly.
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Erin Young

Erin Young

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