April 4, 2018

It’s All About Family at the Extraordinary Sainte Terre

Holly Moore Schreiber, her husband Derek, and her sister, Hillary Moss, are co-owners of Sainte Terre, a unique wedding venue in Benton, Louisiana, about 30 minutes outside of Shreveport.  Holly’s prestigious career highlights include the Bravo TV Network, developing cookbooks and recipes for The Katie Brown Workshop, Country Living Magazine, Master Chef Alain Ducasse, Emmy winning Executive Producer Lauren Deen, Kroger Grocery Stores, and even Duck Dynasty's Miss Kay.  Derek has worked in the hospitality/restaurant industry for over 20 years. He has opened restaurants and planned A-List events nationwide for such groups as Planet Hollywood and the Les Halles Restaurant Group (the home of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain), and has owned two of his own establishments at world famous Breckenridge and Keystone ski resorts in Colorado. 

Holly grew up in Benton, while Derek was a native New Yorker.  Holly moved to New York where she attended the prestigious French Culinary Institute and met Derek.  After they were married, they were looking for a place to settle down.  With all of Holly’s family in Benton and Derek’s parents moving to Florida, it seemed like a logical choice. 

“Our goal was to open a restaurant, but what we wanted didn’t quite fit in with the area.  Our dream was to start something of our own,” said Holly.  “Hillary had just become engaged and was looking for a venue, but couldn’t find one that embodied what she wanted.  Behind our house was 17 acres, and we had the land, people, and right kind of talent to create Sainte Terre.”

It was a long process to create the perfect name for their new business.  After brainstorming ideas for about six months, Holly’s dad was visiting with them when he told them that Sainte Terre, which means ‘holy ground’ in French, was it.  And they had to agree, as it was something that was meaningful to both their family and the families that come to the venue to be joined in marriage.

Sainte Terre is most definitely a family business.  “My mom and aunt work in the kitchen with me Tuesday through Saturday,” said Holly.  “The grandmothers have excellent knife skills and are patient so they can chop all day on the weekends.  My uncle and dad wash dishes.  My dad officiates the majority of the ceremonies.  My brother-in-law also works in the kitchen, and cousins help out with ironing, wiping glasses and pulling weeds.  Thank goodness we all get along!”

Their path to Morton was not a straight one.  When they first moved to Benton, they wanted to start a water buffalo farm in order to produce fresh mozzarella, but they soon learned that that would not be conducive to the Louisiana environment.  But during that process, they had contacted Morton and had had plans drawn up for a dairy barn. 

“We knew we wanted a barn and didn’t know anything about construction.  We researched builders around the area and drove everywhere looking at structures,” said Derek.  “We wanted turnkey, and an easy process, but we had a really tight timeline to when we were needing to open.  We found that we couldn’t customize as much as we could with Morton.  Everything was easy from start to finish.  The crew was amazing and the sales consultant really cared and had a restaurant background.”

The first Morton truck came on July 24, 2014, and by October 31st, the two buildings were completed.  “Going from bare ground to having two beautiful, perfect buildings in that amount of time is miraculous,” said Derek.  “It’s a true testament to what Morton can do.”

The 3,000 square-foot farmhouse reception hall looks more like it belongs in Napa or the coasts.  “You just don’t expect the quality that you see when you get here,” said Derek. 

“Everyone loves the chapel.  When they open the big wood doors, there is this ‘ah’ moment,” said Holly. “Many people think it’s been there for a long time.  And the copper look on the roof gave it some personality.”

Sainte Terre could best be described as “farmhouse chic”—not too rustic and can lend itself to industrial or elegant if need be.  The décor selected was neutral to work with many different tastes.  The buildings have some design elements, but ultimately are able to transform to the style of the bride. “Our goal is to make it as stress free as possible, we actually just really care about these people,” said Holly.  “We take on that stress so they can have an enjoyable day.”

Their genuine desire to create an amazing experience for the couples that visit their property is very apparent in how Holly approaches the wedding menu.  “When a couple comes here to book their wedding, I like to get their story and find out what they ate on their first date so I can reflect the bride and groom in the menu options.”  

Since opening its doors on November 8, 2014, Sainte Terre hosts about 40 weddings a year.  They don’t normally have more than one wedding per weekend, so the weekend is exclusively focused on the bride, groom, and their families that come from around the country.  In addition to weddings, they also host wine dinners, supper clubs, a ladies’ garden club once a month, Mother’s Day brunches, Valentine’s Day dinners, and cooking classes.   

“What always resonates with me is that construction is not in our wheelhouse and there was pressure on us to get it done,” said Derek. “Although we chose, thankfully, Morton for a certain set of factors, with as much due diligence as you can do, you don’t know what you’ve got until you’re in it, especially when it affects your whole family.  When we saw Mike’s (crew foreman) team work, the details, how they spoke to each other, and even dressed, it quickly gave me a sense of relief that we’re going to be alright.  That was invaluable.  How they interacted with us was another level of excellence that separated Morton and team from anyone else we worked with on the project.”

View more interior and exterior photos of Sainte Terre at our wedding and event venue page!

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