Isn't there something positively thrilling about the first crisp nights of fall, when nothing's more enticing than a cozy night in with friends? Camille from Style Notes here, with the latest post in our Fantasy to Fête series.
Today's mood board is a sumptuous celebration of the season in deep shades of burgundy & bordeaux...and just so happens to be the perfect inspiration for a harvest gathering with a nod to California wine country. Keep the menu simple & sophisticated by serving a gorgeous display of fruit and cheese, accompanied by flavorful nibbles like breadsticks, baguette slices, hummus & olives.

When putting together a cheese tray, I try to follow these rules-of-thumb:
*Serve one to two ounces of cheese per person.
*Include a mix of fresh, aged, soft and hard cheeses.
*Arrange - and sample - the cheeses starting with the freshest and lightest, ending with the ripest and most intense.
Take a cue from the changing seasons, and dress the table in earthy tones of fig, pumpkin & leafy greens. Jewel-toned dahlias bunched in low urns are a rich, autumnal centerpiece, especially when accented with seasonal fruit like these persimmons.

Of course, a party inspired by Napa wouldn't be complete without a delicious selection of wines to savor with all of those cheeses. Create a chalkboard menu (above) that describes each wine's flavor profile with suggestions on what cheese might be most complimentary. (If all this sounds a bit daunting, get a few tips from one of my favorite guides to pairing wines.)

Since the rest of the menu is super simple to put together, treat your guests to a decadent dessert with this flourless chocolate cake...Check out the full menu with recipes here. Bring a touch of nature to the table by topping each napkin with a cluster of vibrant kumquats.

*images via {row 1} erin hearts court via 100 layer cake; bonnie tsang via snippet & ink; maybelle {row 2} jason & anna photography via style me pretty; leesa o'reilly {row 3} bonnie tsang; saipua; snippet & ink; jodi miller via snippet & ink {row 4} salt & chocolate; jamie grenough via style me pretty. antipasto, instyle parties; cheese tray, perfect parties; centerpiece, erin hearts court via 100 layer cake; wine & napkin, williams-sonoma entertaining.