by Alex Palmer | February 01, 2017
As new vineyards pop up across the country, not only throughout the Pacific Northwest, but in Texas, Virginia, and beyond, Napa Valley remains the standard bearer for American wine. But it's not just its esteemed wine that has people flocking to the area: New venues and a culinary scene to match the region's vino is making this an ideal time to visit the region.

"With all of the new developments in the Napa Valley, including new hotels, wineries, tasting rooms, and restaurants, there has never been a more exciting time to visit the Napa Valley," says Teresa Savage, vice president of sales for Visit Napa Valley. "Meeting planners have the same expectations as aspirational travelers -- both are looking for a memorable experience in a beautiful destination."

For example, in late fall, the CIA at Copia -- the newest member of The Culinary Institute of America -- opened its doors. It provides not only exceptional dining options, but memorable meeting spaces, such as indoor teaching kitchens, a 200-seat theater, an amphitheater on the Napa River, outdoor gardens, and, of course, a restaurant.

As for hotels, the Silverado Resort and Spa recently completed an additional 30,000 square feet of new function space. A 5,000-square-foot pavilion and 15,000-square-foot conference center are among the property's offerings. Last year, The Carneros Inn, rebranded to Carneros Resort and Spa, which is home to 28 acres of grapevines and farmland. The property underwent an extensive $6.5 million renovation, enhancing its outdoor spaces, pool, and guest entry and reception area. Its 86 cottages and 10 suites underwent a $2.8 million renovation themselves, with all improvements expected to wrap this year. Altogether, it offers 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Marriott Napa Valley Hotel and Spa boasts 22,000 square feet of meeting space (including 8,000 square feet of outdoor space and a resort-style swimming pool). The Westin Verasa Napa provides more than 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space, including a ballroom and three boardrooms.

But while the hotel inventory here is impressive, Napa Valley's most attractive offerings for groups may be its tasting rooms and unique activities. Judd's Hill Winery hosts Bottle Blending Day Camp for groups of eight to 300 attendees. For a rock-n-roll themed gathering, Jam Cellars, in downtown Napa, can accommodate groups of up to 40 people, with space for live musical performances and a tasting room that can also serve as a recording studio. Brasswood Cellars (formerly Cairdean Estate) offers space for indoor and outdoor meetings, while Raymond Vineyards serves up a "Winemaker for a Day" experience for groups in its blending room.

Tired of wine? Planners can consider a visit to the Napa Valley Distillery, serving up cocktail-making classes, barrel tastings, and other non-wine experiences.

Whatever visitors decide, Savage urges planners to visit the CVB's website at and to reach out for assistance with planning a program.

"Our full-service sales team, who are experts in the market, will happily suggest venues and activities that best meet the needs of each group to ensure they have a legendary and memorable Napa Valley experience," she says.  

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This article appears in the February 2017 issue of Successful Meetings.