With more than 400 world-class wineries and a food scene that rivals anywhere in the world, holding a meeting in California’s Napa Valley is like uncorking a rare vintage that will leave attendees savoring the Golden State good life.
“It’s an incredible place not only to do some business, but it’s also one of the greatest food and wine destinations in the world, all in one place,” says Clay Gregory, president and CEO of The Napa Valley Destination Council.
While the postcard version of Napa Valley of course features the rolling vineyards, yellow fields of wild mustard and contented couples sipping wine and sampling artisanal cuisine, meeting groups will enjoy all that and more.
“The off-sites are really what make Napa Valley special,” Gregory says. “Many of the wineries love to have group meetings, from cooking classes at Cakebread Cellars to Judd’s Hill for blending seminars, and a great place called the Oxbow Public Market.
The most popular part of the Valley, from a tourism point of view, begins in Napa and stretches north through Yountville—boasting six Michelin star-rated restaurants—and St. Helena, with its historic downtown square, and up to Calistoga, famous for its mud baths and mineral water.
“Calistoga has a real distinctive flavor—you wouldn’t be surprised to see a cowboy tie up his horse there, and a geyser goes off every 20 minutes,” Gregory says, adding that Solage Calistoga, part of the Auberge Group, offers a sophisticated respite even for this refined-yet-laidback corner of the world.
While the Valley doesn’t offer a proper convention center, it does offer 162 different lodging properties, many of which cater to the meetings market.
“We have a wide array of lodging opportunities,” Gregory points out, from bed-and-breakfasts and small inns and hotels to beautiful resorts such as the Harvest Inn and [52-room] Auberge du Soleil, which can accommodate small groups.
“We have very few nationally branded hotels—a Westin and a Marriott—and the rest of them are independent,” he says, adding that Westin Verasa Napa can handle larger groups, as can Silverado Resort and Spa.
Also on the larger-property front, Meritage Resort and Spa, which is undergoing a renovation, offers 22,000 square feet of meeting space and can accommodate 750 comfortably.
In the end, attendees coming to Napa want to experience what the Valley is world-renown for—wine. And what better way than to meet in one of the many wineries that cater to groups, or have your team bottle your own blend with local company Bin to Bottle Winery?
“It’s a lot better than a team-building session where someone keeps you from falling backwards,” Gregory jokes.