The historic township of Santa Paula in Heritage Valley presents a refreshing contrast to the urban bustle just an hour away. Visitors warm to its slower pace and small-town charms, which include vintage homes, antique airplanes and a train depot that dates to 1887. Acres upon acres of fruit groves in this “Citrus Capital of the World” are hugged by oak-studded hillsides and rugged mountain peaks. A center of silent film production in the 1920s, the picturesque region still attracts Hollywood filmmakers…and lately, engaged couples who’ve discovered an authentic venue for staging their own wedding masterpiece.
Limoneira Ranch perfectly embodies the valley’s rich legacy. Founded in 1893, the 7,300-acre spread remains the county’s largest producer of oranges, avocados, and, of course, lemons. Limoneira may have one foot in the past, but the other is firmly set in a very green future—innovations like their solar orchard demonstrate their commitment to a sustainable natural lifestyle. (Tip: Their new fruit-based skincare products make fab bridesmaid gifts!)
Entering the property between rows of fir trees, you inhale the pleasing aroma of ripening fruit and sweet lemon blossoms. To your right stands the handsome Craftsman-style Ranch Lobby building; on your left, the original Sunkist lemon packinghouse—an architectural award-winner—conveys a timeless allure. Between their two striking facades, Limoneira’s event team creates a festive setting with an open-sided tent, market lights, floral displays, tables and lounge seating, food stations, and whatever else it takes to realize your reception vision.
The Ranch Lobby interior is a graceful gathering place in its own right, with lustrous hardwood floors, 20-foot-high oak-beam ceilings and antique furnishings. A floor-to-ceiling river rock fireplace makes a stunning backdrop for winter ceremonies. Soaring picture windows overlook a flower-dappled lawn, and in the many sunny months, guests can take their drinks out onto the two adjacent garden breezeways.
Next to the packinghouse, the Visitor’s Center is an endearingly offbeat and party-friendly option. Formerly the Limoneira Company Store, the high-ceilinged room features quirky farm relics and photos of Limoneira’s bygone days. A covered deck and adjoining saloon make great social hour hubs, while just outside, retro-chic couples take pictures by a pair of old-fashioned gasoline pumps.
Limoneira’s lush grounds offer several appealing ceremony spots, but for an all-in-one wedding locale, the North Lawn can’t be beat. Set against the backdrop of fragrant lemon groves traced by mountain silhouettes, the Lawn’s approach holds 12 bocce ball courts (a terrific ice-breaker activity for cocktail hours or rehearsal dinners). Crowning the scene, steps lead to a broad landing, a dramatic place to exchange vows. Just above, a grassy expanse provides plenty of room for a lavish reception, including dancing under an explosion of stars. Novel rehearsal dinners or candlelit get-togethers are magical on Hilltop Orchard. Guests are shuttled up a steep, winding road to a petite plateau, and rewarded with a spectacular valley panorama stretching to the sea.
With so much to arrange, couples can count on the ranch’s experienced event coordinator, Jason Collis of Plated Events. They’re lucky: Not only is Jason a chef extraordinaire, he’s also passionate about helping them make the most of the ranch’s many attributes.
Steeped in nostalgia, this green wedding venue brings together Nature’s splendor and heartwarming family celebrations. After over 100 years, Limoneira is still keeping it real.