Weyrich says bridal refunds are on the way

Paso Robles businessman David Weyrich says he’s planning to pay back possibly tens of thousands of dollars of wedding deposits to Villa Toscana customers, maybe as soon as today.

The luxury resort was foreclosed on Feb. 1, along with other Martin Weyrich Winery real estate, including York Mountain Winery and Jack Ranch Vineyard. Deposits held by the bed and breakfast for future events were hung up in the process.

Villa Toscana has been a popular wedding venue because of its location in the middle of a vineyard and its high-end luxury accommodations.

At one point, Weyrich said the deposits were in a Heritage Oaks Bank account that he had no control over.

“Our funds from the Villa were deposited with the winery, and, in fact, over $200,000 in the last 6 months went into the Heritage Oaks Bank account. Heritage simply does not want to pay the brides their deposits back,” he wrote The Tribune in an e-mail dated Feb. 3. “We will do what we can to try to get their deposits back; however the bank is controlling the funds.”

But Bill Raver, the bank’s executive vice president, said Heritage Oaks was not holding Villa Toscana’s deposits and cash receivables. Nor was it preventing Weyrich from paying out that money “in any way.”

By the end of last week, Weyrich told The Tribune he was bringing his records to his San Luis Obispo attorney, Linda Sommers Smith, as a first step in working something out. On Tuesday, Smith told The Tribune by e-mail that the Weyrichs are making arrangements for refunds “through collective family efforts.” She hoped the deposits would be returned at the end of this week, she said.

Michael Swan, a groom in Los Angeles who said he gave Weyrich $10,000 in deposits, told The Tribune on Wednesday that Smith had contacted him with the same news and that a check would be made out to him and other couples with deposits on hold.

He called the move encouraging.

“When at first this news (of the foreclosure and unreturned deposits) broke, we were seriously considering just abandoning the area entirely and going to (Las) Vegas or some exotic locale to get married,” he said.

“But after thinking about it for awhile and communicating with the community, we realized that the vast majority of people in the region are honest and forthright, legitimately felt poorly about our situation and would go out of their way to make sure we had a positive wedding experience in their area,” Swan added.

Swan and his bride-to-be have decided to have their April wedding at the Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles, he said.

“Since we love the area for its natural beauty, quaintness and general close-knit feel, we realized that staying in Paso and still having the ‘winery wedding’ that we always dreamed of was the best way to make us truly happy on our special day,” he added. “We’re just really relieved and thankful that it all seems to be working out OK in the end.”

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