Being surrounded by grapevines is blissful in itself, but add a measure of mountains and the atmosphere goes nearly off-the-charts spectacular. The soils and climate of the American West have proven bountiful, resulting in a large a number of vineyards with meeting and event spaces that are surrounded by peaks or located in the foothills of Oregon, California, Idaho and Colorado.
Overlooking 80 acres of LIVE certified/ sustainably farmed vineyards in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Alexana Winery specializes in intimate gatherings with its three-story, Gold-LEED certified facility. Located 28 miles southwest of Portland and nestled in the Red Hills of Dundee, there is a tasting room with floorto-ceiling windows, outdoor deck and fireplace that provides an ideal atmosphere for hosting up to 24 for dinner. For slightly larger groups of up to 50, the fermentation floor offers a behind-the-scenes view of production and a more rustic feel. The third space, an outdoor kitchen and patio with a pizza oven and gas grill, is perfect for intimate gatherings of up to 12.
Consonus Healthcare has hosted major donors at an annual charitable foundation event and formal and informal luncheons for 20 to 40 guests at Alexana Winery. “I keep going back because my customer’s response is always fantastic. The views are stunning, the winery itself is gorgeous and the service is always perfect,” says Guy Cowart, vice president of rehab operations. “I host many customer events throughout the country and can honestly say this is my favorite place to take customers.”
One of the most attractive U.S. Mountain West wineries has to be Domaine Carneros with its incredible hilltop châ- teau inspired by the 18th century Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France, home of Champagne Taittinger. Claude Taittinger’s search for land to establish a U.S. location ended in 1987 with a 138-acre parcel in Napa Valley, and the château was completed two years later. Surrounded by formal gardens and featuring a grand outdoor staircase, the château has myriad memorable event spaces for groups of 40 to 80, including the Château Salon, Le Rêve Room and Mezzanine, which overlooks winemaking facilities. Modeled after a French hunting lodge, the separate Carriage House has high ceilings, a stone fireplace and doors opening onto a private terrace with fountain and works well for lunch, dinner or receptions for a maximum of 80.
Nestled in a private canyon on 157 acres in the Upper Napa Valley, Calistoga Ranch in Calistoga is an Auberge Resort with its own vineyard producing cabernet sauvignon. The ranch’s largest gathering space is the Lake Lommel, a rustic openair tented structure in Sotero Vineyard with outlandish views and space for up to 100 seated and 200 for receptions. Or consider Lommel Lawn with views of Lake Lommel, also overlooked by the resort’s restaurant and lounge. Inside, the largest option is the warmly appointed Wine Cave for 42 seated and 150 standing. Additional options include the poolside patio, various decks and terraces, Valley Room and Canyon Room. Luxurious accommodations are in the form of freestanding “lodges” that are 600, 1,200 and 2,400 square feet each and have outdoor shower and bath gardens, fireplaces and sun decks.
In Carmel Valley, the 400-acre Holman Ranch has gone through many phases since a San Francisco businessman completed the property’s Spanish-style hacienda with 360-degree views of the Santa Lucia Mountains in 1928. The hilltop estate became an exclusive hideaway for celebrities with guest bungalows, stables and a pool added over the years. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that a new owner planted a vineyard and had aspirations of opening a 25,000-case winery. Current proprietors Thomas and Jarman Lowder purchased Holman Ranch in 2006 and fulfilled their dream of producing estategrown wine and olive oil and returned the property to its original grandeur.
The Great Room, Conference Room, Game Room and Carriage House serve as indoor options for groups, and outdoor venues include the Garden Courtyard, Rose Patio, Stone Terrace, Arbor, and Hacienda Lawn and Veranda. Holman Ranch has 10 guest rooms and is only open for private events, hosting up to 250 attendees, but also owns two tasting rooms in the village (including one for Jarman, a sister brand) and Will’s Fargo Restaurant + Bar.
Crossings Winery in Glenns Ferry not only is one of Idaho’s oldest wineries (founded in 1988), but also provides one of the most complete experiences for groups to “wine, dine and nine,” as they like to say. In addition to the vineyards, there is a 9-hole golf course, restaurant, bar, event space and two cabins for overnight stays. Inside, the barrel room can host up to 100, while banquet rooms accommodate up to 150. Outside, there is a large event area and patio between the winery and vineyards with golf course fairways and the Snake River canyon adding to the backdrop. Groups also can book a large white tent available from late April through early October and suitable for up to 300.
The 80-room Victorian-style Wine Country Inn in Palisade has the built-in advantage of offering lodging, a restaurant and lounge, catering, event venues such as a pavilion surrounded by 21 acres of working vineyards, and views of the Little Bookcliffs mountains. The Vineyard Ballroom seats 120 at round tables, while two Club Rooms in the large Vintner’s House have complete kitchens, living and dining areas, and lockoff guest rooms perfect for retreats and smaller meetings.
Not far down the road is Maison la Belle Vie Winery, where John Barbier transitioned from growing fruit in France to the high-desert region of western Colorado. Planted in 2000, the 4.5-acre vineyard produced enough grapes for wine to be produced in 2006. For a memorable tasting experience, stop by the rustic-yet-elegant tasting room where a private dinner for two to 50 or a reception for 150 can be accommodated. For groups up to 150, Amy’s Courtyard, named after Barbier’s daughter, artistically intertwines a barn, gazebo, pond and beautifully landscaped yard. Wine dinners, buffet or plated dinners, luncheons, and wine and cheese tastings are all possible at Amy’s Courtyard.
In nearby Grand Junction, Two Rivers Winery & Chateau was built from the ground up in 1999 and now produces eight varieties and approximately 15,000-16,000 cases of wine a year. The Chateau serves as an inn with 10 guest rooms and a conference/event center that can host groups of up to 175 in the Great Room that has two adjacent rooms and a lovely attached patio. Along with the tasting room next door, an outdoor pavilion and 10 acres of vineyards, the winery is surrounded by the Colorado National Monument, Bookcliffs and Grand Mesa. Private wine tastings with cheese pairings are available for 10 to 50 participants.
The local St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation has held several evening receptions indoors at Two Rivers Winery & Chateau for 80 to 120 guests. “The atmosphere is very warm and welcoming and fits the size of our guest list, and we have a close relationship with Two Rivers Winery,” says Development Manager Deanna Colaizzi. “Our guests like the venue because it’s large enough to have room to move around, and we can offer full seating.”
She adds, “I personally love having the opportunity to host events at Two Rivers Winery. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, and the wine is fantastic!”
Vineyards and wineries are no longer just stops for tastings, they provide ultra-unique venues for meetings and events and sometimes even accommodations. Attendees will toast the selection of an interesting and interactive venue at your next gathering.
SAVOR ACTIVITY & WINE PAIRINGS IN NAPA VALLEY
Napa Valley features two mountain ranges, the Vaca Range on the east and Mayacamas Mountains on the west, that are part of the atmosphere that makes it possible for vineyards and memorable group activities to flourish.
>> Napa Valley Wine Train accommodates up to 300 with historic and beautifully restored early-1900s Pullman cars. The recently introduced Quattro Vino Tour provides a culinary and wine adventure that includes stops at Robert Mondavi, Charles Krug, Merryvale and V. Sattui Wineries.
>> Napa Valley Bike Tours offers corporate team-building tours of varying lengths that include a picnic lunch at a winery or a casual dinner in the vineyards with fresh pizza and salads served up by Presto Azzurro, a mobile wood-fired oven.
>> Napa Valley Balloons and Calistoga Balloons are now sister companies and present a three-hour adventure for individuals or groups, including preflight coffee, tea and sweet treats; transportation to and from launch and landing sites; a flight that lasts approximately one hour; and post-flight brunch with sparkling wine at either Domaine Chandon in Yountville or SolBar Restaurant located at Solage Resort in Calistoga.