September is California wine month, and there is much to celebrate about the region; Napa, however, undeniably stands out from the rest. It’s a good time to tip our hats to the beloved city most associated with wine in the states. Moreover, downtown Napa is a place to immerse oneself in the grandeur of food and wine while remembering the significance of its rich history.
Wine lovers and foodies flock to downtown Napa with confidence they will imbibe in pure satisfaction. Esthetes and culture enthusiasts marvel at the stately Victorian-era architecture. History buffs clutch to the reminders of days gone by that still encompass the streets. Runners and bikers actively soak up the outdoors while shoppers browse boutiques and take in the riverwalk views. Simply put, downtown Napa generously gifts something to everyone.
This blog is dedicated to food and wine in downtown Napa. I handpicked a few gems to highlight for my Somm insider selection in celebration of California Wine Month.
I don’t believe you can go wrong with the incredible choices in food downtown. Whether you are looking for a bakery and breakfast or fine dining, you will have plenty of fantastic options. Furthermore, you will not have to search far to find food from almost any ethnicity. However, I am touched by the following that shared their stories with me.
Passersby are allured by french music and the aromas of fresh herbs and puff pastries lingering in the air outside Angele Restaurant & Bar. Moreover, fresh flowers on the window sills, wooden beams on the ceilings, and a welcoming blue and yellow color scheme carry the mind to the french countryside. Owner Bettina Rouas works with the local farms for ingredients and takes pride in being embraced by the community. Many of Napa’s winemakers dine at Angele as it is truly a ”locals” restaurant. Of course, tourists are always welcome to the neighborhood spot. You will unequivocally capture a proper night out in the lively bar on the Napa River. Angele has been open for 20 years and serves classic french cuisine. “Our Chef Josue has added his twist on our dishes. He truly understands french cuisine and working with what our customers want,” said Rouas. The wine list consists of 50% Napa Valley and 50% French to offer the ultimate pairings.
The lovely Angele Restaurant & Bar on the Napa River downtown
Kitchen Door A Todd Humphries Restaurant
Previously located in the magnificent Oxbow Public Market, Kitchen Door has settled into its new home on First Street in downtown Napa. Already a staple in the community with its global cuisine and seasonal menu, the new location is welcomed with enthusiasm. The wood-fired oven is used to make their sought-after pizzas in addition to other culinary delights. Furthermore, Kitchen Door creates specialty dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Italy, and America, to name a few, making it a quintessential wine country dining destination. “Paying homage to California and local producers alongside selected global offerings, guests can enjoy the bounty of Napa Valley wineries and beyond,” said co-founder and chef Todd Humphries. Open the red door and enjoy the warm and inviting interior, bar, and patio with a touch of rustic character.
The Global Cuisine of Kitchen Door in downtown Napa
With six times fewer acres under vine than Bordeaux, France, the tiny wine region of Napa Valley made its mark worldwide. Downtown Napa represents a piece of what the vines deliver in one central spot. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most planted grapes in Napa, followed by Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc. The people involved in the below-mentioned wineries speak from the heart about their wines. The energy they put into their wine is parallel to that of the vine to the grape. There is an abundance of excellent tasting rooms for you to choose from in downtown Napa. Allow me to show appreciation for a few that inspired me with their grace and enthusiasm for their craft.
Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Mario Bazan has been farming in Napa Valley for nearly 50 years. Bazan worked his way through the trenches and learned every aspect of the business. Over the years, Bazan has touched iconic vineyards like Joseph Phelps, Opus One, Kalon, and, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars; he worked extensively with Robert Mondavi. He started his own vineyard management company in the 1990s and primarily works with small high-end vineyards. In 2005, Bazan and his wife, Gloria, started their own wine label and now have their own estate vineyard. “Our signature Cabernet Sauvignon is primarily from the estate, with the remainder of the offerings from vineyards Mario manages. This style allows us complete control of the grapes from vineyard to bottle”, said General Manager Bob Magnani. Moreover, Bazan Cellars holds their master winemaker, Kian Tavakoli, in the highest regard, as he exceeds in bringing excellence to their brand.
Bazan Cellars opened its tasting room in downtown Napa in 2019. Their intimate location at the corner of Clinton and Main streets offers live music in the summer. They care at Bazan, as their roots are deeply planted in Napa Valley. And, it is their wish that you have an extraordinary, elegant experience in wine during your visit.
Inside Bazan Cellars Tasting Room in downtown Napa
It all started with the dream, two brothers, Jan, and Bart Krupp, turning their passion for wine into a lifestyle. Jan was a physician and sold his practice in the late 1990s to pursue their own vineyard and winery. And Jan has been nurturing the health of the vines in the same way he did people ever since.
Jan and Bart co-founded the infamous Stagecoach Vineyard, which, to say the least, came with a colorful past. The land had been abandoned for years until the Krupp brothers, essentially, became its saviors. With perseverance and a strong belief in this rocky, rugged terrain, they found water and began construction. In 2017 the Krupp brothers sold the property, but Jan still maintains a significant role at the vineyard. In addition to Stagecoach, they source grapes from their best blocks of mountainous vineyards.
The Krupp Brothers focus on Bordeaux and Rhone-style varieties and have 2 locations for tasting. Their tasting room is located in downtown Napa and is a relaxing environment to sip and enjoy. The other is at their Winery Estate, at the foot of the Vaca Mountains, off the Silverado Trail.
Krupp Brothers’ The Doctor from the Stagecoach Vineyards
Founded in 1990 by Robert (Bob) Craig, Robert Craig Winery brings on-site expression from each individual vineyard property to every bottle. Their pride and joy are mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from their estate vineyards on Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder. Additionally, they source fruit from Spring Mountain and Diamond Mountain and produce exquisite Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Franc.
Although they’ve been in downtown Napa for 15 years, their new tasting room opened in 2021 in a charming, remodeled Craftsman-style Victorian. The small family winery maintains a classy vibe with playful professionalism and a sense of warmth. The hospitality team, a total of only 10, assists with all aspects of the winery and harvest management. Robert Craig gives you a true sense of how a family operates together to create something beautiful. “Robert Craig Winery brings downtown Napa a long legacy of mountain production wines from extremely remote vineyards with shallow, stony soils known for their exceptional qualities, enjoyed from the comfort of our new home in downtown Napa,” said Scott Johnson, Director of Consumer Sales and Hospitality.
Robert Craig Winery’s new Victorian Tasting Salon in downtown Napa
Mark Herold is what I would call a Renaissance Man. From a young boy, he was exploring the many flavors that life has to offer. In particular, his interests and talents in the arts and sciences ultimately led him to wine. He made his first barrel of wine in 1992 and discovered this was a world that made sense to him.
The tasting room in downtown Napa is friendly, and the staff is a wealth of knowledge. Their Cabernet-focused portfolio encompasses everything from a single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc to a small-batch Cabernet Sauvignon. Guests have three different tasting options to include a casual walk-in tasting at the bar. Other choices are intimate seating in their lounge or a 90-minute private vineyard experience in Coombsville, which they affectionately call a “Taste of Place.” “We love talking Napa lifestyle and encourage visitors to come to Live Large and Drink well with us,” said Sierra Millet, Hospitality Manager.
You will notice the labels on the wines incorporate an Elephant as their mascot. A friend encouraged Mark to use his spirit animal to communicate his wines. Hence the artwork of the gentle giant with a personality that is larger than life.
Mark Herold Wine’s lively tasting room in downtown Napa