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How to Customize Your Event at a Winery

By Caroline Cox | 3 min read

As we’ve mentioned before, there are plenty of great reasons to host your next event at a winery. From holiday parties and birthdays to business retreats and reunions, the scenic backdrop paired with fun amenities like tasting rooms adds a unique twist. 

But with nontraditional venue spaces, it can be hard to know just how much room you have the make the event your own. We talked to Gretchen Tusha, owner and operator of The Winery at Elk Manor, and Jeffrey Miller, owner of Cerulean Skies Winery, to get their perspectives on customizing a winery event.

Choose your event type

Cerulean Skies Winery has been hosting parties at their Portland, Oregon location since 2013. “We host a wide variety of events,” says Jeffrey. “The most common type of event is a company reception for 20 to 50 people, wedding receptions, and company holiday parties.” Since they started hosting events four years ago, Gretchen says Elk Manor has mostly hosted weddings. They’ve also dabbled in car and bridal shows, with plans to do more corporate soirees and unique parties like yoga events. Wineries are great options for any type of event, so don’t shy away from a winery as a venue just because it’s not a traditional space.

Choose your seating

Though it may seem like a small detail, seating can drastically affect the look of an event — and the comfort of your guests. “We can offer a wide range of venue seating choices from an intimate wine bar setting to a large art gallery,” says Jeffrey. “Our space is quite flexible.” Likewise, Elk Manor’s seating options are abound: “we offer chiavari chairs, white padded chairs and blonde wooden chairs,” explains Gretchen. For seating customization, we recommend looking at what the venue offers, your guest count, temperature conditions (leather seating isn’t ideal for outdoors in the summer), and your budget to see what works for you. Seating will also depend on the type of event you’re throwing — high-top tables are great for cocktail hours or networking events, while tables and chairs are great for wedding receptions.

Choose your scenery

When it comes to the setting for a winery event, you’ve got a few options. You can concoct an outdoor setup, with or without a tent, by setting up tables and chairs by the vineyard for a picturesque backdrop. The downsides to this, however, are unpredictable conditions like weather, temperature and bugs. If you’d prefer not to play the odds, most wineries have indoor options like a tasting room, an intimate cellar, a covered patio space or, in Elk Manor’s case, a wine bar and art gallery. One thing’s for sure: if you’re throwing an event outdoors, always have a backup plan in case a flash rainstorm hits.

Choose your food and drinks

Now comes the fun part: choosing what everyone will eat and drink. Cheese is an obvious choice for wine pairings, while crackers, crostinis and other light carb bites will help keep all that vino from going to guests’ heads too quickly. “We do allow outside catering, however the [client] can use whatever caterer they want as long as they are licensed and insured,” says Gretchen. “We now have in-house catering, and guests can absolutely customize a drink package — either a full bar or a bar package with beer and wine.” If you’re hosting a more casual dinner party, a food truck can be a fun way to feed guests.

Choose your decor and attractions

Decor for weddings and other special events, whether renting or buying, can be pricey. Luckily, many wineries, including Elk Manor, offer on-site decor options that include arbors, up-lighting, lanterns, wine barrels, a fire pit, umbrella tables, columns, and a variety of bars. Plus, just because your event is at a winery doesn’t mean tastings have to be the only activity on the docket — they also have tiki torches and lawn games to keep guests mingling and entertained long after sunset.


Now that you know how to customize an event at a winery, see how Gather can help you streamline your events process.

This is an updated post that originally appeared on the Gather blog in June 2016.

Caroline Cox
Content Marketing Manager

Caroline Cox is Gather's Content Marketing Manager. She spends her time crafting blogs, thought leadership pieces, case studies, social media content and more, helping empower restaurants and other event venues to streamline their planning process and grow their events programs with success.

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