Northern California's Newest Offerings

A flurry of new developments and food and wine attractions make the region an ideal meeting destination.

Farm to (Meeting) Table
Some of NorCal’s best culinary- and wine-based group activities

Northern California’s reputation for exceptional fresh produce and world-class wines is known the world over, and groups heading to the region can take advantage of some truly excellent food- and wine- themed activities while there. Here are just a few:

Inside the Kitchen Culinary Tour
At The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, groups can take a culinary tour of the city with local broadcaster Liam Mayclem, who will show them some of the city’s top dishes and drinks. After the city tour, guests gather at the hotel’s Parallel 37 restaurant for a special four-course meal with beverage pairings from chef Michael Rotondo. (

Napa Valley Wine Train
A ride onboard this vintage train takes you on a leisurely — and delicious — three-hour, 36-mile ride from the historic town of Napa to quaint St. Helena. Gourmet fine dining and exceptional local wines for lunch or dinner are served onboard as you pass through the heart of the Napa Valley. Groups can charter sections of the dining cars, a whole car, or even the entire train (for up to 300). Winery tour packages are also available. (

A Visit to HALL Wines in St. Helena
Just last month, award-winning HALL Wines debuted its new visitor center at its St. Helena location as part of a two-year, multimillion-dollar renovation to the historic site that includes the lovingly restored Bergfeld Building (originally built in 1885), a new wine-production building, and a new tasting room. While the venue offers a variety of meeting and event spaces for receptions and dinners, it’s also an ideal location for group activities such as wine-blending seminars, garden- to-table experiences, and much more, says Jocelyn Hoar, visitor center manager for HALL Wines. Interested planners can contact Myriah Mutrux, hospitality and events manager, at [email protected] or (707) 286-7184. (

A Farmer’s Market Meeting Experience
At CordeValle, A Rosewood Resort lo- cated in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in San Martin, the farmer’s market experience can be brought directly to your meeting table with the golf resort’s new “Market Experience” meal. Facilities at the property can be transformed to look and feel like a local farmer’s market, with chefs manning live-action cooking stations to prepare and serve local, fresh-made fare such as pasta and smoked meats. (

From San Jose, CA’s $130-million convention center renovation this year, to the planned opening of a brand-new 68,500-seat stadium next year in Santa Clara, there are plenty of reasons to consider bringing your meeting groups to Northern California.

In the city of San Jose, home to high-tech firms like Cisco Systems and IBM, the results of a $130-million convention center makeover were unveiled to the public on Oct. 10. The new San Jose McEnery Convention Center now offers an additional 125,000 square feet for a total of 550,000 square feet of space for meetings and events.

“With the expansion, we can bring in major pieces of business that we couldn’t before because of size. That will be a big thing,” said Karolyn Kirchgesler, the new CEO of Team San Jose, when her appointment was announced on July 30. She also said to expect more developments and outreach from Team San Jose. “We also want to look at what events are out there in other markets and may need room to expand.”

The newly expanded convention center is just one of many recent investments that Team San Jose has made within the past year, from launching free outdoor public Wi-Fi within its downtown core to renovating the historic San Jose Civic, a theater venue originally built in 1936.

Not far from San Jose, and an hour drive from San Francisco, the city of Santa Clara is currently constructing the 68,500-seat Levi’s Stadium, the future home of the San Francisco 49ers and host to the Super Bowl in 2016. It is slated to open its doors in August 2014.

In San Francisco, a number of new attractions and venues have opened or relocated that might interest meeting planners. In January, the $64-million, 35,000-square-foot SFJAZZ Center, a one-of-a-kind music venue with flexible seating and staging, debuted. It has a 700-seat performance hall and features food and beverage from renowned local chef Charles Phan of modern Vietnamese restaurant The Slanted Door. The Exploratorium, the city’s critically acclaimed museum of science, relocated to its new location at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero in April.

Next year, construction will also begin on the redevelopment of Treasure Island, a man-made island located just west of the Bay Bridge. The new Treasure Island is expected to offer 500 hotel rooms, up to 8,000 new residential units, a 400-slip marina, various restaurants and retail stores, and nearly 300 acres of parks and public open spaces for groups to experience. A new cruise terminal for the city’s Pier 27 is also expected to be made available by next fall.