The Tuscan-inspired Meritage Resort and Spa gives groups a true-to-Napa experience in its tasting room located in an on-site cave. Resting just four miles from downtown Napa, the resort’s 50,000 sf of flexible meeting space caters to planners and business travelers. But it’s their grand portfolio of wine tasting activities, for newbie and advanced wine connoisseurs, that remains the biggest attraction.
The Sensory X program, which includes three different “experiments” with wine and food for groups of five to 200, is the resort’s latest program. Attendees begin by testing how their palates interact with salt and acidity and progress into food pairings that combine common foods like cheese with something salty, sweet or acidic. The program concludes with small bites prepared by the resort’s chef and a choice between three wines.
Lamar Engel, tasting room manager at the on-site Trinitas Cellars, says another fun activity is the blind tasting game, which plays off the board game Clue. Attendees do a deductive tasting where they are given a description of the wines they taste without the label or even the cork present. They figure out which wines they tasted based on the descriptions and helpful hints from the staff.
While these two activities are the most popular, Engel says that the Meritage staff can customize wine tastings for an event. One client asked the staff to reenact the Clue board game by dressing up in period costumes and playing out the murder mystery while pairing food and wine. Another client wanted to combine wine with something other than food, so staff paired it with different eras of music.
For groups looking to take the wine tasting experience up a notch, the property’s Trinitas Library may be just the ticket. The secret, reservation-only speakeasy features older, pricier wines for up to 25 guests.
“Companies that are utilizing incentive programs that want to send attendees to a really nice experience can give them this opportunity to do a wine and cheese pairing in a place where they basically have to have a password to get in,” says Engel.