There are few dinner parties you know you’ll remember for the rest of your life. For those treated to a particularly special night lit by twinkle lights, in the back of a vintage pick-up truck, set in the midst of a vineyard, this would be one of them. Thank goodness it was photographed. Out among the vineyards of the Central Coast of California, dressed to the nines in denim, friends came together to have a conversation. They arrived on motorcycles and an acoustic guitar was never far out of reach. The afternoon social rolled into the evening, losing time but never losing speed. Over a spread even the Lost Generation would've written home about, they laughed, toasted, and celebrated all they had to offer each other at their dinner party.
Beneath bistro lights, amid candles, they drank red wine and waxed poetic, and honestly made all of us at the Venue Report quite envious. We had to know more about such a lovely release party for Crawford Denim’s Vinter’s Shirt inspired in collaboration with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wines. So we brought up the stunning, spectacular event, art directed & designed by Rachael Ann Lunghi of Lace & Likes, with Susie Shaugnessy, owner and designer of Crawford Denim & Vintage Co, and couldn’t stop asking questions.
Words by Susie Shaugnessy, Owner & Designer of Crawford Denim & Vintage Co.,
Tell us a little bit about how the partnership with Mondavi came about and how it influenced the design of the Vinter’s shirt.
Robert Mondavi Private Selection has been partnering with small California makers, challenging them to combine elements from the wine making process with the maker’s hand-crafted product. My uncle, Mr. Crawford has long been a grape grower in Central California and wore a heavy denim western shirt throughout his many years of farming. I designed the Vintner’s Shirt to resemble his original garment with small details from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection winery itself, including Heritage Red to wine-dyed the bandanas and a slice of oak barrel that had been used to age the wine.
How/why did you select this location for the dinner party?
We wanted our group of friends to enjoy the views of the area while dining the night before a motorcycle ride to the vineyards. While at the vineyard we got to enjoy wine tasting of all of their varieties and another fantastic spread for lunch; fresh baguettes, cheeses and charcuterie.
Did you incorporate anything from the vineyard into your dinner party design?
Rachael used olive branches from the vineyard down the center of the table and a olive sprig tied with indigo selvage ribbon at each place setting. Wine-dyed bandanas used as napkins accented the simple metal pizza plates.
Why did you decide to have the dinner in the back of the truck? (The photos are STUNNING)
Rachael had the great idea of having the dinner party be able to overlook the vineyard from the back of Mr. Crawford’s elevated big rig. The guys helped string the lights on stakes as we were getting the table set + dinner prepped.
What (2-3) things do you think make an epic dinner party?
Great friends and simple meals always make for a great dinner party. The menu was roasted chicken, kale and beet salads with fresh baguettes and plenty of Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wines. A few musicians in the group always know how to entertain everyone!
Do you have any tips for how our audience can re-create a bit of this at home?
Stringing lights above any table makes any dinner party feel special … using stakes to elevate the lights help keep the mood lighting soft, but the table well lit, enough to see other guests. The long table with bench seating can be modified to a low table and pillows atop large rugs in a backyard, which Renata Stone (the photographer) has done for other dinner parties!
What pieces from your collection would you choose to pair with a vineyard dinner?
I love pairing denim and denim … with the guys in raw selvage jeans and the girls in a mix of dark skinny jeans and patchwork boyfriends all worn with the Vintner’s shirt. We also outfitted the men in plaid westerns and flannels and the women in a mix of limited edition skirts, jumpsuits and vintage dresses. We will be releasing new limited edition items within the next few weeks, so keep an eye out!
Was there anything you did in/around the vineyard that our audience MUST DO if they visit with friends?
We had our pals from Seaweed and Gravel for the ride to the vineyard … from the seats of their vintage + custom motorcycles was the best way to take in the surrounding vistas and traverse the winding roads leading to the grapes.
*** The Private Selection varieties from Robert Mondavi are spread across several vineyards along the Central Coast of California.
Images: Renata Stone + Jess Downer of Big Bear Photo Co. | Art Direction, Styling & Florals: Rachael Ann Lunghi of Lace and Likes | Glassware, Dinnerware, Flatware: Hostess Haven | Hair & Makeup: 1011 Makeup | Clothing: Crawford Denim & Vintage Co. | Wines: Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wines
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