Every time I visit Napa Valley I fall in love. With over 400 wineries producing world class wine paired with incomparable farm-to-table cuisine, I succumb willingly and with abandon. For planners, the warm hospitality and multitude of creative venues from wine vaults to fragrant fields of grapevines will also wow your group.
During a visit this past spring, I checked in at the charming 4-diamond Vintage Inn, an 80-room French Country-inspired boutique hotel located within the 23-acre Vintage Estate in Yountville. All of the Vintage Inn’s rooms and suites feature wood burning fireplaces and balconies or garden patios swimming in the Valley’s soft natural light. Presently, the accommodations are being upgraded with a modern twist while retaining the charm.
Vintage Inn is also just minutes away from a handful of dining rooms operated by some of America’s most celebrated chefs.
“Yountville has extraordinary dining choices, most within walking distance of our hotels in the heart of Napa Valley, and close to activities like golfing, air ballooning, biking and hiking,” says Jo Ellen Felmann, director of group sales. “Add in all the teambuilding, culinary seminars, wine tasting and blending sessions—our groups always have amazing meetings and incentive experiences.”
AROUND THE VALLEY
The Vintage Estate offers groups over 30,000 sf of flexible indoor and outdoor spaces among a coterie of historic buildings, including the Vintage Inn’s sister property, Villagio Inn & Spa. There is also the original home of the Groezinger Family and their historic landmark winery—the first established in Napa.
The V Marketplace is an artisanal culinary complex housing Michael Chiarello’s Bottega. The highly awarded restaurant offers numerous private dining venues including the 40-pax “Banchetto” room with a private reception bar.
Our group particularly enjoyed the wood grilled octopus with olive oil. My favorite was the braised natural short ribs with whole grain mustard spaetzle, Sicilian pickles, apple passata and a smokey horseradish jus. Utterly scrumptious, it paired perfectly with a Chiarello Family Vineyard “Eileen” 2008 Cabernet.
Utterly noteworthy is The Barrel Room, once a wine maturation cellar of the Groezinger winery. This gorgeous brick and beam building with candle-lit lighting hosts 170-pax dinners. Outside, the Pavilion is equipped for 500 diners.
And then we come to the simply sinister culinary seductions of the venerable Napa Valley.
“We offer a sensory wine tasting experience where group members are blindfolded and tested on their wine education. Added teambuilding experiences include culinary competitions and wine educational seminars to top off your visit to the Napa Valley,” says Felmann. “By far the most memorable experience is The Vintage Estate Private Dining option, an evening at one of our partnered wineries. Our executive chef Kevin Miller will create a one of a kind farm-to-table menu for your group.”
We visited Stag’s Leap, Hall and Pine Ridge, three of the Inn’s partner wineries. Our favorite, Hall was built in 2005 with 14,000 sf of caves designed and built by hand by Friedrich Gruber of Austria, with handmade Austrian bricks recovered from Vienna.
Inside the caves, there’s a dazzling reception area for private tastings, illuminated by a spectacular tree trunk chandelier created with hundreds of Swarovski crystals. Perfect for groups up to 42 seated or 125-pax receptions, the venue features a full kitchen adjacent to the dining room for the ultimate epicurean experience, highlighted by Hall’s handcrafted cabernets and pinots.