hile little more than an hour
or two from the tech-fueled
bustle of San Francisco and
Silicon Valley, the counties
of Napa and Sonoma, more
familiarly known as “the wine country,” are far
removed. Long a weekend getaway for leisure
travelers, Napa and Sonoma are also a magnet
for meetings, an idyllic environment where
groups can unwind and recharge without straying far beyond the Golden Gate Bridge.
“Instantly, attendees are in another world,”
says Stewart Hall (MPI Northern Califor-
nia Chapter), founder of the San Jose-based
team-building company Rock the Stars. “From
a team-building perspective, we want that. We
want people to be relaxed and not thinking
about their email and other concerns. The wine
country is ideal for this—it makes people per-
ceptive and open.”
When attendees arrive in the Napa and
Sonoma wine country, they already have expec-
tations of what they will ;ind, according to Hall.
“People associate it with a relaxed lifestyle,
beautiful weather and scenery and, of course,
great food and wine,” he says. “The wine country
delivers on these every time.”
Jody Brandes, CMP (MPI Northern California
Chapter), senior meeting planner for Genentech
in South San Francisco, Calif., agrees, adding
that the destination is a frequent choice for the
biotechnology company’s employee meetings,
which usually last three or four days and draw
attendees from around the country.
“Any meeting in Napa or Sonoma has the
same type of relaxed spa resort type of feel—
you can get business done while still making
employees feel they’ve had a reward,” she says.
Boosting the Spirits
Northern California counties Napa and Sonoma have built a
strong reputation as a great place for ‘relax and recharge’ events.
BY MARIA LENHART