A guide to your downtown Napa winetasting options

by TrevR on January 7, 2008

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Next time you’re headed to the Napa Valley to do a bit of winetasting, you may want to consider making a stop in downtown Napa before heading up valley with all the rest of the traffic. That’s right, I said downtown Napa.

Long-seen as more of a ghost-town than a thriving downtown, it recently dawned on us that there are a now a TON of winetasting options located within the several block radius that makes up downtown Napa. Best of all, you need not drive between tastings as everything is within walking distance.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the places you may want to check out:

Start off at Wineries of Napa Valley, which sits in the middle of the Napa Town Center at 1285 Napa Town Center. Wineries of Napa Valley pours wine from several local wineries, including Goosecross Cellars, Burgess Cellars, Girard Winery and Ilona Howell Mountain Winery.

Just on the outskirts of the Napa Town Center (at First and Randolph), Ceja Vineyards is hard at work on a new tasting room that is scheduled to open sometime in the next couple weeks. The ultra-premium producer will be pouring its award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and two Vino de Casa blends.

From there, head east on First Street until you reach 1146, which is where you’ll find the Napa Wine Merchants, which features a small tasting area, a wide variety of local and non-local wines and a retail shop. A tasting coupon on the website offers a complimentary tasting of any three open wines.

As you exit, look across the street and you’ll see Stave Wine Lounge at 1149 First Street. Stave offers 32 constantly changing, small-producer wines by the glass. The twist here is the wines are poured by Enomatic wine tasting machines, where you choose what wine you’d like to taste, swipe a card, push a button and then sit back and enjoy. Most every wine available for tasting is also available for purchase and the staff are friendly and informative.

Inside Rocca Family Vineyards tasting room in downtown NapaContinue down First Street and make a left on Main, where you’ll find the Rocca Family Vineyards tasting room. Located at 1130 Main Street, the tasting room is nestled between Cole’s Chop House and the new Ubuntu restaurant. Rocca specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, with several recent vintages gaining acclaim from the wine industry powers that be.

Head back to First Street and turn left where you’ll find Bounty Hunter’s Wine Bar and Bistro at 975 First Street. This place has a cool overall vibe and the 400 wines on the shelves and 40 wines available by-the-glass make it a must-visit in our book. The Zagat-rating doesn’t hurt either.

Folio Enoteca & Winery inside Oxbow Public Market in NapaContinuing down First Street across the bridge and across Soscol Ave. you’ll find the Oxbow Public Market. The formal address is 610 First Street, and while still getting up-and-running, the market is already home to Folio Enoteca & Winery and the Oxbow Wine Merchant & Wine Bar. We were there on a recent weekday afternoon and this is currently the place to go if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, but it won’t be for long.

Head back into downtown-proper by going the opposite direction on First Street and turn left to find 974 Franklin Street, which is where Back Room Wines is currently located. They’re planning a move to First and Main in the Spring. Back Room Wines has a simple and compelling mission, which is to “…find, recommend and sell you the best small-production wines that you can’t get from your local wine merchant.” Every Friday night from 5pm – 9pm Back Room features a special tasting, upcoming examples include the 1/18 Under Twelve Buck a Bottle Tasting, the 2/8 Pinot Party and the 2/22 Wines of Italy event.

Continue down Franklin to find Second Street, 1405 to be exact, which is the address of X Winery. Here you’ll find some amazing wines without the typical amazing price tag. X Winery seeks to blend new technologies with traditional winemaking to produce wines of top quality in the $10 – $25 per bottle price range. Don’t go without calling 707-204-9522 x9 in advance for an appointment, otherwise you’ll be disappointed.

There you have it, a downtown Napa winetasting loop (of no less than 10 different stops!) that’ll surely provide you with a wide variety of tastes, sights and unique experiences. Happy tasting–and for good measure, here’s a map:

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[techtags: Napa, Napa Valley, wine, winery, downtown napa winetasting, Stave Wine Lounge, Back Room Wines, Napa Wine Merchants, X Winery, Ceja Vineyards, Rocca Family Vineyards, Wineries of Napa Valley, Folio, Oxbow Public Market]

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About the Author

has written 726 posts on The Cork Board. He was born and aged in the Napa Valley and has a passion for wine, writing and social media, which led him to co-found this blog in early 2007. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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