California Brandy House, a stand-alone tasting room dedicated solely to “luxury California brandies,” will soon be unveiled at First Street Napa.
Set to open for outdoor tastings only on Nov. 6, California Brandy House will initially showcase two leading brandy portfolios, Germain-Robin and Argonaut, according to a recent news release.
“Guests will discover California brandy through expert guided tasting flights, including limited offerings and single-barrel samples not available anywhere else,” said the release.
Tastings will initially take place in the California Brandy House outdoor parklet. To ensure proper social distancing, reservations must be made in advance.
“Our California brandies, like Germain-Robin and Argonaut, are crafted from world-class white and red grape varieties exclusively grown on California soil,” said Britt West, vice president and general manager of Gallo Spirits, a division of E. & J. Gallo Winery.
“These fine brandies are as rich, vibrant and complex as the land itself. There is no better place than Napa Valley, the heart of wine country, to re-establish California brandy among the world’s best distilled spirits.”
“Since its inception, First Street Napa has been committed to cultivating distinctive destinations to shop and explore, and California Brandy House is a wonderful example of a completely new concept,” said Todd Zapolski, managing partner, First Street Napa.
“With its stylish aesthetic and unique tasting options, it’s going to be a real draw. We are thrilled to welcome them to our community.”
California Brandy House is located at 1300 First St., Suite 309, next to Eiko’s and Makers Market.
Info: Germain-Robin.com, ArgonautBrandy.com, ArgonautBrandy.com
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Photos: Breweries of Napa County
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110 W. American Canyon Road, American Canyon
Sample beer: Lombard Station Blonde, named for the famed actress who stayed in Napa County while filming a movie in 1939.
Founded in 2016, the brewpub is as much about the food as the beer, with Chef Chris Tang bringing his career in fine French and Chinese cuisine to create an off-beat take on pub food. The tap list includes its own rotating selection of quirky creations, but also standouts from around the region.
1250 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga
Sample Beer: red ale, a malty, crisp local favorite.
The century-old inn has been home to a brewery since 1987, the first brewery in Napa County since Prohibition, producing a variety of beers and becoming a second home for many locals. The restaurant, fully renovated after a 2012 fire, offers a mix of upscale and brewpub favorites. There is cozy indoor seating for evenings and colder days and an extensive outdoor patio and riverside beer garden to take advantage of Calistoga’s lovely weather. The Inn just added a new outdoor bar and fire pit near Lincoln Avenue
902 Main St., Napa
Sample beer: Tantric India Pale Ale, a mix of British-style malt and flavor-forward California hops creates the best of both for IPA lovers.
The historic riverside restaurant has been around since 1893 in several incarnations, but it has been a brewery since 1988, first as Willit’s Brewery and since 1993, Downtown Joe’s. The pub has a homey bar, inside seating with great views of the river, and an outdoor patio. The food is unapologetically unpretentious pub grub and the vibe is casual and warm.
1000 Main St., Suite 100, Napa
Sample Beer: Loco India Pale Ale, an entry into the booming genre of tropical and citrusy IPA, with heaping handfuls of Citra, Mosaic, Amarillo and Centennial hops.
The owners brew their own beer, but they also offer other beers from across the region with 40 taps. Opened in 2015, the pub has quickly become a favorite after-work gathering spot in downtown Napa, with a funky wood-and-steel décor and upscale snacks and meals on the menu. The brewery has its beers on tap on several other locations around the county and has talked about expanding to other locations.
610 First St., Napa
Sample beer: Hot Chocolate Stout, a chewy, creamy tribute to Mexican-style hot chocolate, including chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, milk sugar, and ancho chilies.
One of seven current or planned outposts of the popular Berkeley brewery, the Oxbow Market tasting room opened in 2016, offering a wide range of unusual beers. There is a line of subtle and tasty IPAs, malty stouts and porters, and adventurous sours, such as Jelly Packet, a fruity “Tart Breakfast Ale.” Seating is ample, including an outdoor patio, and you’re free to get food from any of the many vendors in the Oxbow.
101 S. Coombs St., Suite X, Napa
Sample beer: Coombs Saison, a citrusy and refreshing take on the classic farmhouse ale, slightly sour and light on the alcohol, making it easier to enjoy more than one.
Opened in 2017 in an industrial space in the old tannery complex. The owners include a brewer from the defunct Silverado Brewing Company and the husband-wife team behind Oenotri. Their emphasis is on drinkable, approachable beers in a friendly neighborhood space. There are some snacks and light dishes on the menu, but the focus here is on the beer.
1282B Vidovich Ave., St. Helena
Sample beer: The Crow and the Water Dry Stout, an Irish stout aged briefly in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, giving it a hint of wine.
Star winemaker Nile Zacherle has turned his home-brewing passion into a pro brewery, named for his two daughters, producing offbeat takes on little-known styles. He takes a wine-maker’s approach, aiming for a premium product, elevating his beer far beyond a simple pub brew. The beers are on tap at fine restaurants around the valley and at the Cameo Cinema in St. Helena, and lately available in the new taproom in St. Helena, behind Azteca Market.
816 Vallejo St., Napa
Sample beer: Black IPA, combining dark and caramel malts to produce a dark, spicy, hoppy brew.
Winemaker Elaine St. Clair also happens to know something about beer brewing thanks to her degree from U.C. Davis in fermentation science -- plus she was a co-owner of Napa Ale Works back in the 1990s. So after establishing a winery and downtown tasting room in Napa, it seemed logical to start a brewery too. The tasting room is a patio across the street from the brewery.
731 1st St, Napa
Sample beer: Pile Driver, a double IPA with tropical flavors papaya and pineapple, a big beer without big bitterness.
An unfussy taproom serves as the gateway from downtown to the Oxbow district, serving a rotating selection of their regular and seasonal beers. With a commitment to straight-ahead, people-pleasing brews, the owners nabbed the Crowd Favorite trophy at the 2017 Napa Valley BBQ and Beer Battle.
920-930 Third St., Napa
Sample beer: Stone IPA, a massive mouthful of hops that helped define the West Coast style.
Stone Brewing of San Diego County opened a branch in Napa’s historic Borreo Building in 2018, selling all of Stone’s core beers, plus some one-off and special brews crafted in the on-site brewery. It features a second-floor taproom and restaurant with unmatched views across the river toward downtown Napa. Stone offers unabashedly aggressive, muscular beers that helped define the “extreme beer” movement, but they have added some gentler and more unusual beers in recent years.