5 Unusual Venues for Corporate Events in Wine Country
Wine regions around the country have many beautiful hotels and gorgeous convention spaces to choose from. But when you’re searching for a more unique corporate event venue, perhaps for a board retreat, more unusual locales can fit the bill. Check out these five inspiring locations — with outstanding vino, to boot.
When Heather Pilcher of Blue Spark Event Design was searching for a unique venue for a makeup/skincare client based in New York City, she turned to this winery in Sonoma for its wine cave. Held last May, the event included a happy hour, a three-course plated dinner and a DJ (plus plenty of Benziger wines, of course) — all held underground.
“The guests didn’t know dinner would be held in such a unique space, so when the cave doors opened, you could hear an audible ‘wow’ from the crowd,” says Pilcher.
Needless to say, the space was a huge hit with her client. She notes, however, one downside to hosting a corporate event in a cave: no back-of-house space to hide catering. In this case, they built a special area for catering outside the cave and then transported food down to serve.
Opened in November 2018 in New York’s Hudson Valley, one of the oldest winemaking regions in the country, this 17-room nature retreat is set on 100 acres offering views of the nearby Catskills and Berkshire regions.
Guests stay in high-end cabins that offer a glamping experience, allowing them to fully connect with nature (and unplug, if desired), while enjoying amenities like luxury linens, high-end bath products and made-to-order cheese/charcuterie platters that stand in for room service.
Meetings for up to 250 guests can be held outdoors in an architecturally stunning, 4,000-square-foot open-air pavilion complete with a full catering kitchen.
You don’t have to venture to Africa to go on safari — you can walk on the wild side right in the U.S. in Sonoma County, California. This 400-acre wildlife destination, founded in 1993, is home to more than 400 exotic mammals and birds.
Meeting space options on-site include Flamingo Landing, a patio that overlooks the flamingo lagoons and the gazelle pasture; the Savannah Café, which makes for a nice dinner spot; the Elephant Room, which has ample audiovisual capabilities alongside singing birds from the nearby aviary; and an outdoor gazebo, surrounded by bamboo and an excellent option for enjoying a meal or meeting alfresco.
Traveling around to many vineyards around Napa can mean a lot of time in the car. But there’s a more efficient way to see the countryside without having to drive your group around: The Napa Valley Wine Train.
The team works with planners to create custom private events aboard the elegant vessel, from chartering a single car or the entire train. You can arrange half- or full-day winery tours, lunch or dinner or special themed events. The two-story Vista Dome, an observation-style dining car with plush red booths and mahogany paneling, makes for an especially memorable meal prepared by the train’s culinary team.
This resort is known for its nature-inspired guest rooms with rustic wine country furnishings and its lush, 27-hole golf course. However, event planners need not look any further than the inn’s Stone House and Stone Meadows for memorable venues in Temecula Valley AVA.
The 180-year-old Stone House is constructed from granite and stone, and was once used as a bunkhouse for granite quarry workers in the late 1800s. Adjacent the house, a beautiful meadow space encompassing 14,000 square feet is sheltered by well-lit eucalyptus, oak and juniper trees, making an ideal combination venue for dinners and evening receptions.
In addition to wine tasting and wine blending, the venue is also known for its teambuilding activities like golf clinics and tournaments, and glow ball contests.
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