With its pleasing laid-back vibe and beautiful attention to detail, Napa Valley is famous for its rustic yet elegant aesthetic. This combination translates perfectly into an approach to entertaining that wows guests with sophistication and polish, yet is easy (and fun!) to pull off
We asked our Special and Private Events Manager Jenn Sarkisian for her top 5 tips to bring the best of Napa Valley’s vibe to your next party!
TOP 5 TIPS
1. Seasonal Decor
Whatever is in bloom or handy in your garden can be used to dress your table. Providing it is safe to be around food, Jenn is a fan of incorporating seasonal herbs, potted plants, vines, and flowering branches into the event decor. When you can, try to mix rustic woods together with vintage industrial copper or metal for an elegant farmhouse feel. “The first 5 minutes of any party is the time to WOW your guests. Bringing the outdoors to the table lets your guests feel like they’re one with the season and sets the mood at first glance.” An added plus: if you use potted flowers or plants, they make lovely gifts to send home with your guests at night’s end!
2. Garden to Table
Bring seasonal produce to the table as much as possible. “Supporting local vendors and buying seasonal produce is big in Napa Valley”, says Jenn. If you don’t have a fruit or produce stand in your area, try to find a farmer’s market to shop, or a higher-end grocery store to get the pick of seasonal fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and local specialty goods that can inspire and set the base for your menu.
3. Tease the Palate
The appetizers will set the stage for what is to come on the menu, so keep it exciting! Jenn asserts that “people love new ideas and combinations for appetizers – the more inventive the better, and presentation is huge!” Dress up your cheese or charcuterie platter with edible garnish like pickled green beans or watermelon, add chocolate-covered espresso beans to accompany a cheese with an espresso rind – do the unexpected. Make sure to bring some of the bright colors into your appetizer display with fresh fruits and vegetables – color is key to stimulating your appetite and your senses, plus the more vibrant the color the more healthful the food.
4. Have No Fear of Intimacy
The ideal number of people for a party is between 10-30 so that you can actually have time to enjoy your guests. To keep the party going and infuse new energy into your circle, “Ask your guest to invite someone they think is interesting to keep the conversation lively and fresh. A chef, a student, someone in the military – anyone that would enjoy meeting new people” says Jenn. Want to make your party even more special? Use a free design site like canva.com to create invitations, identifying signs for your appetizer table and drink bar, or to make personalized menus.
5. Wine Paring is Key
What comes first? The menu or the wine? Wine and food should complement each other, so this is where special attention should be paid. Food and wine pairing guides are easy to find on the internet (we like this one). Depending on your access to seasonal foods, you might want to design your wine choice around your menu. However, if you are a confirmed wine lover and can’t wait to share your favorite wine with your friends, let your wine choices dictate the meal to come. Better yet, ask your guests to bring their favorite wine to share! Jenn says that “in the Valley, everybody wants to bring a bottle – it’s kind of like Napa etiquette!”
“The most important thing to remember when hosting”, says Jenn, “is what Maya Angelou said; ‘At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.'”