Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Vine & Dine

In the Northeast, vineyards and wineries make ideal event venues for every season

By Ann Loynd Burton

If Starbucks has taught us anything, it’s that a seasonal beverage has legs. The same stands true for wine: crisp chardonnay for spring, rosé all summer long, a bodied red (preferably infused with notes of apple or cinnamon) in the autumn, and something warmed and mulled as the snow falls. Like their product, the Northeast’s wineries offer alluring atmospheres that celebrate each season. They also boast indoor-outdoor accommodations, activities, tours, and, of course, booze.

“Wineries are great for corporate events because it’s not just a big square room with four walls,” confirms Paige LaDue, event planner for Siagel Productions in Newtown, Massachusetts. “They have their own charm, decor, and vibe.” Many also have built-in entertainment, like tasting and tours, which is ideal when you have a group, adds LaDue. “For a corporate party, we bring in things like relay races and rock walls. We get to team build, have fun together, and work on relationships. And on the other side of it, you have great wine and indoor space for people to hang out and mingle with a cozy vibe.”

An event setup at City Winery in Boston, Massachusetts || Courtesy of City Winery

AJ Williams, founder of AJ Events—based in Boston and Nantucket, Massachusetts—echoes that sentiment. “I think people like going to extra special or unique venues. They love to be outdoors, to try something new, and people love wine,” she says. “The setting is also beautiful, so if the decor budget is limited, it can still look magical.” Williams particularly loves when servers are very knowledgeable about the wine itself, which she says is “refreshing [versus] hosting in the average restaurant, ballroom, or banquet space,” where they often are not.

When considering a winery for an event, Williams says to first consider the season. “If you’re looking for those picture-perfect images of vines in the background, talk to the venue about when the vines will be fruiting or what stage of the growing and harvesting process they will be in at the time of the event,” she says. In the Northeast, there is an array of options that shines throughout the year.

Spring: A Lavender Haze

While spring may drag its feet getting to New England, it arrives right on time in Thurmont, Maryland, where Springfield Manor is tucked along 140 acres at the base of the Catoctin Mountains. Springfield Manor offers an extensive wine palette for attendees to enjoy in its ballroom (seating up to 300 guests) or restored barn for 150. It is also the state’s largest lavender farm, boasting more than 3,000 plant varieties. “While the lavender is primarily used in our spirits program, the flowering field is a special highlight for spring and summer events,” says Event Coordinator Brian Childs.

To the southeast, on 230 acres of picturesque rolling countryside near New Market, Maryland, Linganore Winecellars also charms in warmer months, where company picnics on the pavilion can accommodate up to 200. There is also a 19th-century post-and-beam barn that can host 100-plus eventgoers and the Bacioni Room for smaller gatherings up to 40. “Beside the pavilion is a large, flat lawn area,” explains Mary Beth Davis, director of private event sales. “We have had companies bring in moon bounces, pony rides, and a band or DJ.”

Summer: Rosé and Lobster

A food display at Newport Vineyards in Rhode Island || Courtesy of Newport Vineyards

You’ll find a quintessential New England summer in Newport, where Rhode Island’s largest winery, Newport Vineyards, is situated on 100 acres of preserved farmland. For events, attendees can enjoy award-winning wines paired with classic East Coast fare like crab cakes, clam chowder, and lobster rolls. “In the summer, it might be a relaxed company outing with tastings, cornhole in the vines, or even miniature golf,” notes Kendra Carlisle, director of marketing for Newport Vineyards. The venue offers three unique spaces that boast indoor-outdoor options and accommodations for up to 200.

In Vermont northwest of Burlington, capitalize on the summer view at South Hero’s Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery, where an outdoor tent offers events May through October (an indoor tasting room hosts smaller, private events throughout the winter), perfect for food trucks, live music, and team-building activities. “The wine ties in a sense of place that makes events at Snow Farm Vineyard extra special,” offers Events Coordinator Nick Lane. “Our location in the Champlain Islands [in Lake Champlain] is a big part of what makes us stand out. Once people travel over the sandbar and the lake opens up on either side, the water’s calming sensation just overcomes most folks. It’s peaceful, pastoral, and magical.”

Fall: Thanks & Giving

Massachusetts is a natural choice for highlighting the harvest season. Rachel Mullaney, owner of 1620 Winery, acknowledges her Plymouth-based venue’s year-round appeal but emphasizes the charm of autumnal celebrations reminiscent of the first Thanksgiving in “America’s hometown.” Located in an 1800s-era former rope-braiding building, 1620 Winery boasts a rustic and elegant grand ballroom, adjoining barrel room, two bars, and three massive fireplaces. “With 13,000 square feet of flexible space and history you can feel in its bones, the winery offers a rugged and beautiful ‘blank slate’ for all kinds of events,” Mullaney notes.

With mostly indoor accommodations, downtown Boston’s City Winery is a natural option in the cooler fall weather. “We host business dinners for 20 up to large corporate holiday dinners for up to 750 guests,” explains Events Director Shayla Marshall, adding, “I find our clients are really looking for something experiential.” Marshall cites wine and chocolate or wine and hors d’oeuvres as an entertaining (and delicious) alternative to a seated meal, with selections tailored to the season.

he sitting room at 1620 Winery in Plymouth, Massachusetts || Courtesy of 1620 Winery

Winter: Fireside Chats

With New England appeal but more mild winters than its northern counterparts, Connecticut charms in colder months. Stonington’s Saltwater Farm Vineyard boasts a restored World War II-era airport hangar that provides an industrial-chic setting for events, overlooking acres of vineyard and an 1,800-foot landing strip dating to the 1930s. “As lovely as the grounds are, changing with the seasons, one loves the ability to host a gathering inside with the gas fireplace adding to the ambience,”
says co-owner Merrily Connery.

Toward the center of the state, Preston Ridge Vineyard offers an intimate indoor venue for events up to 50 and an outdoor tented venue for as many as 150, boasting sweeping views of the Connecticut countryside and breathtaking sunsets. While warmer months capitalize on the property’s expansiveness outdoors, explains co-owner Cara Sawyer, nothin

In the Northeast, vineyards and wineries make ideal event venues for every

g beats the 30,000-plus holiday lights hung on an acre of vines, enjoyed alongside deep reds and mulled wine in winter months.