Though Cleo grew up in Napa where her father founded the family winery, Pahlmeyer, she made frequent trips up to the Oregon coast to visit her aunt and uncle. It was in a small village called Neskowin where she first met Jamie, when they were only kids. Though there weren’t any sparks back then, they reunited in the same town 10 years later for a holiday family gathering, and have been together ever since.
It’s only appropriate that Jamie chose Neskowin, the location of his family’s summerhouse and where he first met Cleo, to propose. “He planned a very elaborate scheme to catch me by surprise, and completely pulled it off,” Cleo shares.
True to her Napa Valley roots, Cleo knew she wanted delicious food and wine to be a big part of their wedding celebration. “We had lamb, ricotta-polenta cakes, local vegetables, and of course, Pahlmeyer wines,” she says. It was also important to the bride to have the ceremony at her father’s house. “I grew up there, and it’s where my dad and stepmother got married,” she says. “The house is built for parties and has spectacular views, but it is also an intimate, personal place.”
However, plans changed dramatically when Cleo’s father’s house burned to the ground just two days before the wedding. “I was having my final dress fitting when my phone started ringing repeatedly,” Cleo remembers. “Jamie was calling to tell me that he had heard there was a fire on Atlas Peak, and thought it might be my dad’s house. As I drove toward the house, I could see the smoke from miles away, and when I finally realized it was, in fact, our house, I was devastated.”
Rising to the occasion, the couple’s friends in the community all offered their homes and spaces for the wedding, as well as their help and support. “We ended up getting married at Caymus Vineyards,” Cleo says. “Chuck Wagner, founder of Caymus, is a longtime friend of my father’s, and he also happens to be a first-class man. He opened up his winery to us for our wedding, and we couldn’t be more grateful. We are also very thankful to our wedding planner, Sarah Ghazzagh with A Dream Wedding, who worked magic to move the wedding in just one day.”
In many ways the ceremony was a cathartic, joyous celebration, just on the heels of the horrible event days earlier. “All I could think about leading up to the fire was the wedding and every imaginable detail that was going into it,” Cleo confides. “But after having all of my plans fall apart, and experiencing the tragedy of losing my family’s home, it became clear to me that the only thing that actually mattered about the wedding was our marriage, and celebrating it with our close friends and family.”
A large-format wine bottle etched with the wedding invitation for guests to sign—in place of a traditional guest book—was sadly lost in the fire. As a last-minute replacement, the couple had guests sign a nine-liter bottle of 1996 Pahlmeyer Merlot that was enjoyed the night before at their rehearsal dinner. “We’re planning on re-bottling it with the 2011 (our marriage year) Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red, and saving it for at least our 20th anniversary!” Cleo says.