Haute Harvest

Vintage meets vineyard for an interactive hillside affair.

By Monica Haim – Photography by Ilan Mor

How bored are you by the onslaught of events that all somehow seem to be exact cookie cutter copies of one another? The dark,
solemn reception hall. The fabric-wrapped chairs. The predictable floral centerpieces that make you antsy for no reason. The buffet selection that feels like some kind of gastronomical déjà vu, and the general sense that you have…well, been there and done that. For some reason, we get trapped into thinking that our important events call for a certain level of deliberate
fanciness, and in that baseless preconception lose our sense of creative spontaneity. But if we stop to consider factors such as the universality of nature, the sheer element of surprise, and the critical premise of less-ismore, our parties can turn into the stuff of true nostalgia.  Take, for example, a recent affair designed and produced by Israeli event designer and producer, Koby Bar Yehuda, which took place in the Judean Hills, somewhere on the way to the holy city of Jerusalem.

The best memories are when fun takes the place of pretense.

 

To add a touch of modernity to an otherwise rustic setting, tables are set long, which also creates a sense of dramatic perspective.
To add a touch of modernity to an otherwise rustic setting, tables are set long, which also creates a sense of dramatic perspective.

The inspiration was to have guests arrive at a place where they had no idea what was going to happen— the sense that they were approaching not just an event, but also a fortuitous possibility for collective adventure. As the sun began to make its initial descent, guests were invited to what appeared to be an empty green field in the middle of nowhere. There they were welcomed with cocktails, the sounds of old

French, La Boheme-inspired music and an array of white ivy-wrapped square pergolas where tables were set as long as the eye could see.

Guests sipped on fresh libations and nibbled on canapés, watching and chatting as the sky began to turn pink. Everyone mingled, convinced they were attending just-another-nice-outdoor-cocktail-party— until out of nowhere, massive lights dramatically came up onto the vast expanse of lush vineyard that sprawled out into the distance. The massive lights were cleverly attached in a row formation at the top of the gazebos, and were used to light up the field dramatically, which allowed the gazebos to serve two purposes: as structures to house the seated dinner, but also as rigs to illuminate the vineyard. Garlands of lighting were also used throughout the aisles of the vineyard itself, adding whimsy and enchantment to the harvest scene. Just then, each person was then given a basket, a pair of suede gloves and gardening scissors, and was then invited to stroll through the aisles and freely explore through the great sea of purple, and reap from the bountiful crop of tiny, ripened, juice-filled grapes. This creative and interactive approach to celebrating gave the gathering more dynamism, allowing both the guests and hosts to let loose a bit before dinner, in an earthy and ritualistic back-to-the-land kind of way.

To add a touch of modernity to an otherwise rustic setting, tables are set long, which also creates a sense of dramatic perspective.
To add a touch of modernity to an otherwise rustic setting, tables are set long, which also creates a sense of dramatic perspective.

With smiles and laughs and sweet grape-filled baskets in tow, the guests now realized that they were at a progressive party, and just like that, the event took on an entirely new aura—one based on the prospect of wonder, play and the power of connecting to the earth with one’s own hands.

After the celebratory harvest, everyone was invited into the square pergolas, where a family-style dinner was served. The succulent, Italian-style cuisine was served on long ceramic plates, provoking guests to pass and serve one another, a testament to the loveliness of breaking bread as a group. For lighting, Bar Yehuda hung crystal chandeliers to evoke a romantic vintage aesthetic in an otherwise Spartan, almost farm-like atmosphere.

There were no flowers, except for accents of fuchsia bougainvilleas, and instead wild vines and the ivy intertwined all throughout the gazebos, giving the space a raw and pastoral essence. Simple, white wooden bistro chairs surrounded the elongated tables, which were also set in a palate of whites and cream. By creating a repetitive pattern via the table settings, Bar Yehuda not only created a sense of deeper visual perspective, but also gave the affair a more modern, even architectural touch.

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To keep a light and fresh atmosphere, the fabric selection for tablecloths and napkins was soft linen, and the menu itself was printed on a delicate piece of recycled paper, placed charmingly into the seam of a cork. Candles and votives were placed haphazardly in clusters to leave ample room for the robust, home-style plates that were casually passed around throughout the feast. Roving accordion players in the style of Parisian street musicians moved freely through the space, perhaps stopping for a
moment to serenade this or that guest.

After dinner, guests were ushered towards an entirely separate lounge area, where there was dancing and yet more performances. Through the natural splendor of a vineyard and the backdrop of green, whites and creams, the affair came off as stunning—but it was really through the active participation of the guests that the evening felt unforgettable. So, the next time you find yourself in planning mode for any event—be it a wedding, Bar Mitzvah, anniversary, engagement or any other such
celebration, dare to think outside of the box and give your people an affair to truly remember.

The best memories are made when fun takes the place of pretense, and isn’t fun ultimately what a good party is all about?

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Jewish Way is a lifestyle magazine created with the passionate goal of integrating the Jewish Community. The magazine also contains sections on Jewish education, life in Israel, travel, food recipes, interior design, health, fashion and much more!...