Rustic, Chic and Unique Cedar Lake Cellars Offers an Unforgettable Setting

April 13, 2011

By Melissa Gilliam

 

Tucked away 50 miles west of downtown St. Louis is a remarkable 100-acre venue that marries Missouri’s beautiful and rustic wine country perfectly with smart, modern amenities. Cedar Lake Cellars is an unforgettable setting for weddings. It also boasts a winery that’s open to the public and a it’s a fantastic daytime location for business meetings and retreats.

 

A Winery That’s Open to the Public

Cedar Lake Cellars’ winery offers an open layout that is perfect for guests who would like to mingle or colleagues who like to work a room. Ceiling-high wooden wine racks display hundreds of bottles of wine behind a tall stone bar, and wooden rafters are exposed overhead. The space has a layout that is warm and inviting, but also refined and elegant. As Michelle Tinker, General Manager of Cedar Lake Cellars explained, “The comfortable coziness of the winery with the majestic roaring fireplace is truly the best part about the space and the first thing people notice when they walk through the doors. It really makes you feel at home, and guests love grabbing a glass of wine and curling up in one of the oversized, wing-back chairs to enjoy.” The winery offers 10 private label Missouri and California wines. Its reserve California wines are created by Cedar Lake Cellars’ wine maker from choice California vineyards, while its Missouri wines are made using French-American hybrid and native grapes. Fifteen “Wines of the World,” with origins spanning major wine regions around the globe, are also on Cedar Lake’s wine list. But Cedar Lake hasn’t forgotten guests who prefer other libations. In addition to these private label and name brand wines, it proudly serves a selection of fine microbrews. Adjacent to the tasting area is a 90- seat dining room used for catered meals and receptions. Although the winery has been used for private events since 2008, it opened its doors to the public on September 17, 2010. The winery is currently open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and hopes to expand its public hours this spring.

A Wedding Venue
For the bride seeking a cosmopolitan country wedding, it’s hard to imagine a better Missouri venue. With a wedding capacity of 350 guests, Cedar Lake Cellars can accommodate rehearsal dinners, wine tastings, weddings and receptions. Jackie Mattingly, a certified meeting planner at Maritz Inc., held her wedding at Cedar Lake Cellars. Mattingly had only good things to say about holding her wedding there. “As a certified meeting planner planning my own wedding, I wanted to partner with a venue that understood groups and how to pull off flawless events, but that also was unique. Most of my friends and coworkers have traveled globally, planning events for high-profile clients with high-end budgets. I wanted to create an experience for my guests that they would remember, while upholding my reputation as an industry expert. Cedar Lake fit the bill perfectly.” More than 40 weddings are already scheduled for 2011. Weddings are the most prominent source of business at Cedar Lake Cellars. Food, liquor and wine are provided in-house, and the venue’s event management team goes above and beyond to create perfect weddings for brides. According to Mattingly, “Their staff bent over backwards to meet my requests and suggested ways to cut costs without skimping on style. Their creativity and passion for customer service made the experience almost intuitive – like they could read my mind. This meant so much to me not only as a bride, but also as someone who does this for a living. I felt I could relax and enjoy my wedding without the stress of worrying about what was going on behind the scenes.” Cedar Lake Cellars is an unforgettable wedding venue, but because it does not offer overnight accommodations, out-of town guests need to make arrangements at a nearby hotel or resort. Cedar Lake works closely with Innsbrook Resort and also recommends the local Best Western and Holiday Inn, both located within a reasonable drive of the venue. With elegant country touches like a waterfall, a walking bridge across a pristine lake and barn loft doors that open with a perfect view of the dance floor, it’s no wonder that Cedar Lake Cellars has such a booming wedding business. Add an old-fashioned band stage and an antique car whose trunk functions as a gift table, and this is a venue that guests will not soon forget. As Mattingly expressed, “I have almost been married two years now, and my guests are still commenting on my wedding and how it was one of the best events they have attended.”

The Barn & Sustainability
The barn at Cedar Lake Cellars is unlike any Missouri barn you’ve seen, with stables that have been converted into offices, event spaces and a restroom. The barn’s Snug Room is a cozy country den, complete with a stone fireplace and oversized leather armchairs and sofa. Tinker’s face lights up when she describes how comfortable guests make themselves in the Snug Room. “Usually as the wedding is just getting going outside, we find Grandma cozied up next to the fireplace with a cup of coffee enjoying the quiet of the Snug, or we’ll find kiddos asleep on the couch hugging the very life-like stuffed black bear that makes this room his home.” Opposite the Snug Room is a twentyseat dining room that is used not only for dinners, but for daytime meetings as well. In the loft of the barn, guests will find a bar, pool table and historic St. Louis area memorabilia. Checkerboard-topped tables with bar stools have been handmade from wine barrels, and the entire barn stays comfortable year-round thanks to full heating and air conditioning. Even the walls of the barn are unique. The original working barn was renovated using 90-percent original or locally reclaimed barn wood. The interior is filled with classic antique pieces, from a lighted Lindbergh Bank sign to hand-pump water faucets. When asked about the many little touches that make Cedar Lake so special, Tinker said, “Events are made by the details that are incorporated, and Cedar Lake has so many details that people have to come back again and again just to catch them all.” Tinker explained that Cedar Lake Cellars acquired its unique antiques through a combination of gifts to its owner, Carl Bolm, and purchases Bolm made on his many trips to antique auctions. “Most of the items that you see in the barn are gifts to Carl from local friends who saw what he was doing and wanted to make a contribution to the unique décor. Some of the larger items, such as the antique fire truck and vintage John Deere tractor are finds from his trips to the auction house. I actually had a wedding guest comment on how Carl out bid him on the John Deere the week before at the auction!” The barn’s renovation is only one piece of evidence to support Cedar Lake Cellars’ devotion to environmental sustainability. The water used to irrigate the property is recycled from the lake, and guests are also encouraged to recycle using designated receptacles. Even the lighting at Cedar Lake Cellars is designed to reduce energy usage.

Business Meetings and Events
Cedar Lake Cellars’ newest focus is on providing a daytime meeting and retreat space for businesses. “We would like to focus 2011 on the business retreats that Carl envisioned when he established Cedar Lake,” said Tinker. “I’ve given many, many tours of the barn, and people might not come in with any intention of hosting an event, but by the time they leave, they have so many ideas that they’re excited to talk about.” Corporate groups have access to all the same features and amenities as wedding parties, from the winery or large dining room to the Snug Room or barn loft. Gary Baker, Senior Vice President of Investments at Wells Fargo Advisors in Clayton, said, “When I set out to determine the location [for his Leadership Academy event], several sites came to mind in St. Louis. However, I wanted our extremely focused, Blackberry-centered guests to feel like they left it all behind for one day. It worked. The place was magnificent for what we needed, and the guests were in awe as we pulled up at Cedar Lake.” Baker’s Leadership Academy retreat brought a group of 40 local business owners together for Rising Above, an inspirational engagement with international speaker John O’Leary. Baker received strong feedback from business leaders who attended the retreat. “We held our first meeting upstairs in the barn, and we were all amazed with the detail and general feel. The fireplace was just perfect for the event day (in late October). The real beauty was when our guests walked over to the wine tasting facility to toast the day, and I heard one individual say, ‘This place just keeps getting better.’” Cedar Lake Cellars is only 30 minutes from Chesterfield, and both Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available throughout the property. Don’t be fooled, though – Cedar Lake Cellars may be close to the city, but it is still an escape. As Baker said, “The guests walked around the grounds and you could see they deserved this much-needed break and time for reflection. Cedar Lake provided all we needed!”   MM&E

(Melissa Gilliam is a contributor from St. Louis, Mo.)

Contact Information:
Cedar Lake Cellars
11008 Schreckengast Road
Wright City, Missouri 63390
Michelle Tinker, General Manager
Phone: (314) 569-3005, ext. 106
mtinker@cedarlakecellars.com
Angie Roach, Event Coordinator
Phone: (636) 745-9500, ext. 4
aroach@cedarlakecellars.com

About the author

Joe Clote

Joseph W. Clote is owner of Publishing Concepts, LLC a communications and marketing firm based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Mr. Clote is Group Publisher of MeetMed™ and Missouri Meetings & Events™ (MM&E) magazine, a quarterly publication read by thousands of meeting and event professionals, and producer of the St. Louis and Kansas City trade shows under the MM&E name. Mr. Clote has extensive sales and marketing expertise in the travel, tourism, fine art, insurance, and software development industries.