Tucked amidst the rolling hills and verdant vineyards of California’s esteemed wine country, the wine tasting rooms in downtown Napa stand as a testament not only to the vast vinous wonders of the Napa Valley but also to the vibrant urban wine culture taking root in the city’s heart.
With its unique blend of historical charm, urban sophistication, and an undying passion for the grape, downtown Napa invites both the novice and the connoisseur to explore its treasures.
From chic urban lounges to rustic tasting hideaways, this downtown district boasts a collection of tasting rooms that beautifully encapsulate the diverse terroir and winemaking talent of this iconic region. Join us as we uncork the secrets and savor the stories of the best wine tasting experiences in this celebrated part of Napa.
Short on Time? Here are the key takeaways:
- There are over 50 tasting rooms in downtown Napa that are a mix of wine bars and wineries
- The Priority Wine Pass could save you hundreds on tasting fees
- In our opinion, don’t miss JaM Cellars or Cadet Wine and Beer Bar
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Fast Facts about Napa Valley Wine
- Number of Wineries: According to Wikipedia, the Napa-Sonoma region is home to over 800 wineries. That means it would take you over 2 years to taste them all if you drank at 1 winery every day – and that’s not factoring in any new wineries or the many wine bars!
- Geographical Diversity: Within the Napa Valley, there are 16 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) or appellations. Each has a distinct microclimate and soil composition, which contributes to the wide variety of wines produced in such a compact region.
- Prohibition Impact: Despite its current fame, only 40 Napa Valley wineries survived Prohibition by producing sacramental wines for religious purposes, selling medical wine prescriptions, or making other similar (non-alcoholic) products.
- Historic Caves: Some wineries in Napa, such as the historic Schramsberg, use caves dug in the late 1800s for wine aging. These naturally cooled environments are perfect for storing and aging wines.
- Judgment of Paris: In 1976, a blind wine tasting event in Paris – now famously referred to as the “Judgment of Paris” – put Napa on the global map. Napa Valley wines, both Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, beat out their French competitors, causing a seismic shift in the world’s perception of California wines.
5 things to know before visiting
1 – California is truly the wine mecca for the United States
California wine accounts for over 80% of all wine produced in the country and is the world’s 4th leading wine producer (discovercaliforniawines.com).
2 – It’s expensive AF
Most tastings start around $50 per person for 3-5 pours at maybe 2 ounces each. Luckily, we found the Priority Wine Pass to help us visit more wineries on a budget.
There are several wineries that offer 2-for-1 tastings (and other discounts) which helped us save over $300.
Yep, you read that right, $300. They cover more than just California too, and it’s good for an entire year!
3 – If you are going to winery hop to more than 3 places, you really need to spit
We’ve joked that spitters are quitters, BUT in Napa/Sonoma, we might recommend it so you can remember and taste all of the wines during a busy winery-hopping day. If you’d like to bear witness to the aftermath of a day of non-spitting, check out the Sonoma highlight on our Instagram profile – Sam is super classy, she knows (sorry, Mom).
4 – Sonoma was the OG of wine in the region
Sonoma was the first to plant the grapes and has older vines but is overshadowed by Napa Valley. For this reason, Sonoma is more relaxed and has a different vibe. We had a great time in Napa, but Sonoma was more our scene.
5 – Cabernet Sauvignon is King
Because of the climate in the region, big, bold, dry red wines are dominant which has made the Cabernet Sauvignon king. Among its “royal subjects” would be Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel. While there are many varieties to try, these are among the top ones produced.
Map of the Best Tasting Rooms in Downtown Napa
HOW TO USE THIS MAP: To view the layers and see the names of the places on this map, click the tab in the top left corner. You can select the check marks to show or hide certain layers. If you select the icons on the map, you will get more information about the point of interest.
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP: If you select the star icon next to the map name, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. To view it, open Google Maps in desktop or on your phone, select the menu button, go to “Your Places,” scroll to the right to Maps, and you will see this map.
- Hours: Open 7 days a week
- Sunday – Wednesday: 10AM – 10PM
- Thursday – Saturday 10AM – 12AM
- With nightly music
- Food Available: Small bites and dips
- Reservation Required: Reservations encouraged and walk-ins welcome
- Tasting Per Person: start at $45
JaM Cellars produces wines like the bold Butter Chardonnay and berry-rich JaM Cabernet, reflecting the spirit of its founders, John and Michele Truchard. This dynamic duo, representing the “J” and “M” in JaM (get it?), transitioned from crafting ultra-premium Napa wines to creating accessible varieties for everyday celebrations.
In 1995, John began his journey by managing vineyards, nurturing his vintner skills, and dreaming of his own vineyard.
JaM Cellars officially popped its cork in 2008 introducing their affordable JaM Cabernet at just $20 a bottle and has been the talk of the town since. After a decade of playing the wine game at the ultra-premium level, they thought, “Why not craft wines for, oh, ANY day that ends in ‘Y’?”
They’ve successfully made wine approachable for all, and their downtown Napa studio, which opened its doors in 2016, is a testament to that.
The JaM Cellars Wine & Music Studio is THE spot to be in downtown Napa. From their vinyl collection that’ll give you all the retro feels, to the daily “toast with Toast Sparkling” ritual at 5:15pm (because, why not?), you’re in for a wine-soaked ride. And don’t even get me started on the disco ball.
They even have nightly music on the busier weekend nights and when we visited, our wine-tender eventually morphed into the musical act for the evening and played some great tunes and even took some of our out-of-nowhere requests.
St Clair Brown Winery & Brewery
- Hours: Thursday – Sunday: 12PM – 6PM
- Monday – Wednesday: Closed
- Food Available: Small bites and cheese plates
- Reservation Required: Yes, reserve online only
- Tasting Per Person:
- Wine: starts at $60
- Beer: $30
- Mixed wine and beer tasting: $50
St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery is a unique blend of fab urban winery, trendy nano-brewery, and a yummy culinary garden, all tucked in the hip heart of Napa.
Founded by the power-duo Elaine and Laina in 2010, these queens turned their wine dreams into reality in 2013.
Situated in Napa’s Rail Arts District, you’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from First Street and those lush Estate Vineyards in Coombsville. Think sipping divine wines and beers in a chic greenhouse surrounded by an edible garden. Oh, and did I mention the garden-to-table food menu? Delish!
Elaine St. Clair is an industry expert with over 30 years in winemaking and the only woman in the US holding the titles of both Winemaker & Brewmaster. Girl Power! With her UC Davis cred, she’s all about crafting balanced, nuance-filled wines that’ll make your taste buds dance. And trust us, her wines do more than just talk; they resonate.
From zesty Sauvignon Blanc to the deep notes of Cabernet Sauvignon, these vegan wines are as exclusive as they come – with less than 1,000 cases produced annually, all up for grabs only at their downtown Napa hub.
- Wednesday – Thursday: 1PM – 5PM
- Friday – Saturday: 1PM – 6PM
- Food Available: No
- Reservation Required: Reservations required
- Tasting Per Person: start at $45
Gustavo Wine is the epitome of legacy, passion, and sheer brilliance in winemaking. Gustavo Brambila is not just another name in the wine business; he’s like the Beyoncé of winemaking.
The Brambila legacy? It’s like the wine version of the royal family.
Now, let’s rewind to 1966. Young Gustavo had an explosive introduction to wine when a Muscat juice bottle went all fireworks in his mama’s refrigerator. Instead of crying over spilled wine, our man decided he’d get to the bottom of this vinous mystery and propelled him on a quest for knowledge.
Starting his career at the iconic Chateau Montelena in 1976, Gustavo was soon part of wine history. Ever heard of the “Judgement of Paris”? The winery earned top honors at the 1976 “Judgement of Paris,” a blind tasting contest that saw California wines taking on their French counterparts.
So iconic was this saga, it inspired the 2008 film “Bottle Shock,” with Freddy Rodriguez giving us some major Gustavo vibes.
1977 saw Gustavo hopping over to Grgich Hills Cellar. Here, he showcased his prowess by producing the winning Chardonnay at the Great Chardonnay Showdown of 1980, and continuously earned 90+ scores for 23 straight years.
However, in 1996, Gustavo Thrace finally saw the light and realized the dream of having his own brand. Always the trailblazer, Gustavo unveiled the first-ever downtown wine tasting room in 2002, setting a global trend. 2013 marked the evolution of his brand to Gustavo Wine.
If you’re looking for the soul of wine, Gustavo’s your man. Crafting each wine like an artist paints a masterpiece, he’s got that old-world charm with a sprinkle of modern genius. In essence, he’s the quintessential old-world winemaker’s vintner, blending subtlety with mastery.
- Thursday – Monday: 1PM – 7PM
- Tuesday – Wednesday: by appointment only
- Food Available: Yes, via food truck or pop-up
- Reservation Required: No, but it’s recommended
- Tasting Per Person: $35
Nestled smack in the middle of downtown Napa, Rebel Vintners isn’t just another tasting room—it’s the Willy Wonka factory of wines. Since flinging open its doors in 2018, this snazzy spot (which, by the way, is housed in a swoon-worthy 1914 architectural gem) has been serving glassfuls of fabulous with a side of history.
Rebel is run by a group of very gifted vintners, none of whom own vineyards, who craft their creations in Napa’s bustling industrial parks. But their wine sources? They stretch far and wide across California, offering wine enthusiasts a delicious palette of tastes and aromas.
Now, meet the three (technically, four) musketeers behind your next favorite bottle:
- We’ve got the law school lovebirds, Jason and Helen from Holman Cellars, who ditched courtrooms for crushes. Thanks to Helen’s uber-cool vintner uncle who is a longtime Napa winemaker, Jason was seduced by the grape side.
- Timothy of Leaf & Vine: he’s keeping it in the family with wines that taste like Napa had a love affair with Northern Cali.
- And don’t get us started on globetrotter Kevin Cadle of Cadle Family Wines. This former international school teacher traded chalk for corks, and boy, are we grateful!
The best part about Rebel Vintners? It’s not the drool-worthy wines (though, yum!). It’s the vibe. Unlike your typical corporate tasting rooms, here you get an authentic, relaxed vibe.
No reservations required. Walk in, savor wines with delightful nibbles from Monday Bakery, or sip on refreshing ciders. As the sun sets, the place morphs into a chill wine bar, complete with classic games and comfy spots to unwind.
But the cherry on top? Instead of a usual employee pouring your wine, there’s a good chance you’ll be clinking glasses with Tim, Jason, or Kevin themselves. Now that’s what we call a personalized wine experience!
Cadet Wine and Beer Bar
- Monday – Thursday: 5PM – 12AM
- Friday – Saturday: 5PM – 1AM
- Sunday: 5PM – 10PM
- Happy Hour:
- Thursday – Monday 5PM – 6PM
- Half-off all wines by the glass and draft beer!
- Food Available: No
- Reservation Required: No
- Tasting Per Person: varies based on wine/beer
Ready for some sips and spins? Downtown Napa’s hippest joint, Cadet Wine and Beer Bar, boasts the motto: “Buy a bottle, pick a record.”
Crafted by the wine elite, like Miss Colleen Fleming and sommelier superstar Aubrey Bailey, this joint is where Napa’s cool kids hang. From its divine décor fusion to mouthwatering meat plates, Cadet isn’t just a bar; it’s a Napa must-do.
Every corner resonates with the allure of old-school vinyls and international drinks. Dive into a menu dripping with rare Champagnes, Californian wines, and global beers, all thoughtfully handpicked. And trust us, the vintage-meets-vogue décor just adds to the charm.
From vintner tastings every Wednesday to spontaneous chef takeovers, there’s always something fresh to savor. And if you’re famished, the legendary cheese and salumi plate doesn’t just tantalize—it satisfies.
A quick tip: If you’re wandering the streets of downtown Napa, Cadet is the pit stop you didn’t know you needed. Drawing inspiration from those snug European alleyway bars, it’s a haven for aficionados to rally, revel, and raise a toast.
We visited during Happy Hour and we thoroughly enjoyed the prices and experience!
BONUS: Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ
- Sunday – Thursday: 11AM – 8PM
- Friday – Saturday: 11AM – 10PM
- Happy hour:
- Monday – Friday: 3PM – 6PM
- Food Available: Yes, full restaurant
- Reservation Required: No, but we highly recommend getting some
If you’re a wine enthusiast with a penchant for some smokin’ BBQ, then downtown Napa’s got just the spot for you: Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ.
Nestled in an 1880s historic building on First and Main, this old-West themed joint isn’t just another wine bar.
With a staggering collection of 400 wines to choose from (both for retail and in-house enjoyment) and 40 wines available by the glass, even the most discerning wine aficionados will find themselves pleasantly overwhelmed.
And if you thought this was just about wine, think again!
Their beverage list also includes Kentucky’s finest Bourbon and Rye Whiskey and some rare Single Malts from Scotland.
Voted the “Best Wine Bar in Napa Valley” for consecutive years, their reputation isn’t just about the drink. Their food menu boasts the famous BH Beer Can Chicken (a Cajun-spiced delight that you get to carve), and some award-winning BBQ dishes like the Smokin’ St. Louis-Cut Ribs.
In a nutshell, if your idea of heaven is sipping on a fine wine while munching on some mouth-watering BBQ in a charming setting, then Bounty Hunter in downtown Napa should be at the top of your must-visit list.
BONUS: Oxbow Food Hall
- Wednesday – Thursday: 1PM – 5PM
- Friday – Saturday: 1PM – 6PM
- Food Available: Yes, come hungry
- Reservation Required: Nope
The Oxbow Public Market in the Oxbow District isn’t just an ordinary market—it’s THE heart and soul of Napa’s food and wine culture. Sprawling across 40,000 square feet, this lively hub boasts everything from the freshest organic produce to those artisanal goodies you didn’t even know you craved.
Want scenic vibes? Sip and nibble on their outdoor deck with the Napa River as your backdrop.
Not only is this spot a foodie’s daydream with its array of vendors and cafes, but they’re also champions of the local food culture, sustainable agriculture, and, yes, all things organic.
The market’s mission? To elevate the local food culture while supporting sustainable farming practices and owner-operated businesses.
But, wait, there’s more! It’s not just about shopping.
There’s an ever-evolving carousel of events, from live music and cooking demos to those wine tastings that make Napa… well, Napa.
And if you’re into beer, Fieldwork Brewing Company is drawing crowds, switching up their brews so often that each visit feels like the first. For the cocktail aficionados, there’s a store that’s all about bitters—and they’re not shy about letting you sample.
The tasting rooms in downtown Napa offer an unparalleled experience for both novice wine enthusiasts and seasoned connoisseurs.
These establishments capture the essence of the region, showcasing not just the renowned wines but also the rich history and culture of Napa Valley. A trip to Napa wouldn’t be complete without stepping into these curated spaces, where every sip tells a story of terroir, tradition, and passion.
Whether you’re looking for a cozy ambiance, unique varietals, or simply the best that Napa has to offer, downtown is undeniably the place to be.
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