Episode 4: All About Venues With Arbor Crest Winery
On this week’s episode, we were joined by Kristina Meilke-van Löben Sels, the Winemaker CEO and owner of Arbor Crest Winery, and her Venue Manager, Emily Jones to discuss their beautiful venue.
The History of Arbor Crest
Kristina’s parents started the winery 40 years ago. Her entire family lived in the Spokane area and always said that it would make a great spot for making wine. They purchased the Cliffhouse Estate (75 acres) in 1982 when Kristina was only 12. She truly grew up with Arbor Crest. In 2024, it will be the 100th anniversary of the estate. Before it was a winery and venue, it was Oral Ribletz’s private home. Oral Ribletz, who was practically royal, was an inventor and an eccentric fellow. He and his brother actually had the first patent for the chairlift tram!
Kristina attended UC Davis after graduating High School majoring in their wine program to study Fermentation Science before coming home to make wine and run this business with her husband. She has now been working at Arbor Crest for 23 years. They don’t currently make wine there, however. They have two facilities not far from where the winery is located and about 5 acres of vines used for a beautiful backdrop. The facility is where wine-making began, as her grandfather used it to make cherry pie filling years ago.
The winery was established as the 29th winery in Washington state (there are now over 900 wineries across the state). Arbor Crest is located in the Spokane Valley, on a huge rock with amazing views of Spokane and out to Cour d’Alene. The Italian Florentine-style mansion will transport you out of Washington and into the European countryside. Their winery is open year-round, and 7 days a week for Wine tasting and dining. Even if you don’t drink wine, go check out Arbor Crest because the actual estate is absolutely wonderful to hang out at, eat cheese, and enjoy the views.
Arbor Crest started their first wedding program in 2003; they have watched it evolve into what it is today. They utilize the house that’s on the property for Brides to get ready in and take pictures (first looks). The property is stunning and features a waterfall and a sunken rose garden with over 100 types of roses. During spring you will see a variety of gorgeous blooms coming from the garden. The Spokane area is a great place to get married because the costs are lower here, and the seasons are beautiful (spring, summer, fall, and even winter are pretty in the PNW). It is a very attainable city with many views you wouldn’t expect.
Arbor Crest Weddings
The venue manager, Emily Jones, is who primarily manages the private event bookings, weddings, and day-of coordination at the venue. The role of a day-of wedding coordinator is to manage the staff and vendors that are setting up and working the wedding. In addition to overseeing the set-up of everything, they also check in vendors and help them find parking and set up locations. They will set up all the chairs and tables; they offer both round and rectangular tables. Ultimately they handle all of the tasks prior so that you can enjoy your big day without any stress. Emily also meets with your wedding planner or coordinator prior to ensure that everything is seamless on the back end and no one will be overlapping each other.
Arbor Crest provides you with a day-of timeline because it can be very overwhelming without it. They have various wedding packages depending on the size of your wedding, and how long you’ll need the venue space. Their ‘A La Carte’ package is catered towards weeknight weddings or smaller celebrations. The ‘Sweetheart’ (or elopement) package is for more intimate celebrations. It allows up to 30 guests, and the venue is yours for 3 hours. In addition, they offer a Courtyard package (5 hours) and a Normal Wedding package (11 hours).
Arbor Crest provides brides with a preferred list of caterers that they trust with their venue and to work with you as well. You only have to select a caterer from the list since it’s a difficult property to work on, so they want to make the process as seamless as possible. Their restaurant now caters to smaller events of 50 or fewer, but they leave larger events to the professionals.
You can also enjoy Arbor Crest wine on your big day! About a month before the wedding, the bride and groom, and whoever wants to take part in the wine tasting, will come to taste and choose their favorite wines. They also have beer from square wheel brewing which is her brother so all family which is great for serving both beer and wine at the reception.
When’s The Best Time To Choose A Venue?
During your planning process, the venue is the first vendor that you want to book. Caterers will typically not book with you until you have a venue, so you really need to start there. It’s a crucial part of the process, so it’s nice to knock it out right away. Kristina and Emily recommend anywhere from 9-12 months in advance are good.
As far as seasonal weddings go, Arbor Crest does have a 5000 sqft tent that holds a good amount of people and will stay nice and cozy in case of rain. The venue has many different set-ups and backdrop options, along with several options for the couple to hold their ceremony and reception. They will work with your vision and set it up according to how you want.
Advice From Arbor Crest
We had to ask the professionals for their advice for future brides that are planning their weddings. Here are some of the tips that we compiled.
- Over-communication is key: the more you tell your vendors, the more likely your day is to go as seamlessly and stress-free as possible.
- Highly recommend using a Coordinator: day-of coordinators handle all of those extra things that you don’t think of like timing.
- Use a timeline or wedding-day program: make and share, or have your planner make and share, a program or timeline with all of your vendors and guests.
Make sure to check out Arbor Crest winery for their wine tasting, dining, and venue space here. Tune into the Apple Brides podcast for more wedding advice, tips, and trends from local wedding professionals.