Planners from around the Bay Area and the Midwest checked into a clutch of new and newly expanded properties: the River Terrace Inn and the Napa River Inn in downtown Napa (the valley’s new hotspot), The Meritage Resort, also in the city of Napa, and Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville.
What better way to kick-off a Wine Country visit than a reception and tour of COPIA, The American Center for Wine, Food & The Arts in downtown Napa. This seven-year-old attraction, which is available for private events, focuses on wine, particularly as it relates to food and to our culture. (Pairing wine and chocolate—now that was an inspired combination!)
We soaked up some late-afternoon sun with pre-dinner wine-tasting and hors d’oeuvres in the shady, Tuscan-style courtyard at Tra Vigne restaurant in St. Helena. Afterward, only steps away, we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner—catered by Tra Vigne—in Merryvale winery’s Historic Cask Room, which was lined with century-old 2,000-gallon casks. (Think braised short ribs over creamy polenta followed by tiramisu for dessert. Live harpsichord music set the tone.)
This group of veteran site-inspectors hopped on the morning bus and headed for Vino Bello and Meritage Resort in Napa for a light breakfast and a tour of Meritage’s unique cave spa and tasting room. Vino Bello, directly adjacent to Meritage, can be booked in conjunction with Meritage for additional guest rooms and space.
In downtown Napa, the 1884 Historic Napa Mill now houses restaurants, Sweetie Pies bakery, galleries and a General Store—great to browse—plus the Napa River Inn, located (naturally) right on its namesake river. We got a java boost while visiting the M J Schaer Gallery, which, in addition to showcasing traditional and contemporary art, is a terrific space for a reception, including an outdoor deck.
Next, a visit to (and lunch at) a brand-new attraction—the Oxbow Public Market, whose founder was project manager for San Francisco’s famed Ferry Building Marketplace. The market encompasses “farmstands” with delicious regional and seasonal foodstuffs—meats, poultry, bread, cheese, produce, even homemade ice cream—plus cafes and (surprise, surprise) meeting space.
Afternoon featured a whirl of site inspections, including the River Terrace Inn, a luxury boutique hotel in Napa, and Villagio Inn & Spa, part of the Vintage Estate complex in Yountville. A stop at Vintner’s Collective, a tasting room for numerous valley wineries, provided an overview of all the riches the area has to offer.
We topped off the day with a sociable tasting at the newly opened Alpha Omega Winery (there was a theme here) in the heart of Rutherford.
For those planners who could squeeze in some extra time, the reward was a spa treatment, either at their hotel’s spa or in-room—a sensational (pun intended!) send-off for a very successful FAM.