Tasting After Dark is a Thing!

Oct. 14, 2018 | by Daryl Burch

Taste Away without Leaving Downtown

When the Beazley House first opened 37 years ago… there were only a couple restaurants in downtown Napa. What is now Downtown Joe’s, the former Willits Brewery, wouldn’t open till 1988. And a wine “tasting room”? What’s that!?

Cut to current day: With the fervor of change happening in downtown Napa, there has been an explosion of tasting rooms adding to the city’s flavor-scape. There are now at least 26 tasting rooms within walking distance of the inn. And more cropping up seemingly every day. There are even a few that stay open late, filling the gape between your dinner on the town and ending up a your standard bar scene for a night cap.

So to cut through the riff-raff, here’s an outline of a handful we like to send guests to for a more personalized, special experience:

JaM Cellars Wine & Music Studio - Only 3 blocks from the Beazley House

1. JaM Cellars Wine & Music Studio

Just 3 blocks from the inn, JaM Cellars Wine & Music Studio is one of the coolest hangouts downtown. Decked out in Rolling Stone magazine art and collectors guitars amongst the comfy leather couches on Persian rugs, the scene is set to take in some great live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through “Rocktober!” Choose your favorite vinyl or watch Thursday and Monday night football on the largest big screen in downtown Napa all while sampling their lineup of easy-to-love wines or sharing a bottle of Butter Chardonnay with good friends. Further enhance your tasting experience with appetizers from Tarla next door brought right to you.

Open till 10p Sunday through Wednesday; Open till Midnight Thursday through Saturday. With live music Thursday and Friday nights the rest of the year.

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  • The Tasting Bar

    @ John Anthony Vineyards

  • The Reserve Tasting Room

    @ John Anthony Vineyards

  • The Tasting Room at Night

    @ John Anthony Vineyards

2. John Anthony Vineyards

Two doors down from JaM Cellars, is the more refined, elegant John Anthony Vineyards tasting salon. You can either sidle up to the bar, or to make an evening of it, request a Table Reservation ahead in their lounge, high tops or banquettes. For an extra special night out with friends, make a date for their Reserve Room for up to 10 people and have a late-night sommelier led VIP tasting after dinner out. John Anthony vineyards offers a multitude of exquisite Napa Valley, single vineyard, Reserve and vintage wines in tastings, by the glass and by the bottle.

Open till 10p Sunday through Wednesday; Open till Midnight Thursday through Saturday.

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3. Cadet Wine & Beer Bar

Down a little alley, tucked away in the corner is Cadet’s Wine & Beer Bar. With LPs spinning till the wee hours, peruse the 11 page menu of California sparkling, wines, and beers as well as small bites, salumi and paninis. The doors are open till 1am Monday through Thursday, and 2am on Friday and Saturday.

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4. Gamling & McDuck

For an off-beat wine experience, Gamling & McDuck is just waking up when other tasting rooms are thinking about closing for the day. Opening at 3pm daily (closed Wednesdays), they stick around til the last guests go home. Open till 11pm on Saturdays. Or if they get into a movie fest with “Raging Bull” or “Pulp Fiction” they may stay open later.

What makes them different, is winemaker Gabrielle Shaffer’s keen eye for Chenin Blanc and Cab Franc. With fruit from small blocks in the Soda Canyon and Suisun regions, her wines are very approachable, carry good depth, and are priced very reasonably.

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5. Vermeil Wines

Though best known for his legacy in football, Coach Vermeil’s family legacy in wine goes back four generations. From their home in Calistoga, his great grandfather would make wines from small vineyards near the Calistoga Palisades at the base of Mt. St. Helena. Coach continues these traditions sourcing fruit from the same small vineyards to create a wide portfolio of great wines from Chardonnay, to Barolo, to Zinfandel, and of course, Cabernet.

Combining his love of wine and sport, the Vermeil tasting room on First St., in Napa, is open till 10pm most nights, and 11pm on Friday and Saturday. With large flat screen TVs flanking the tasting bar, dialed to the latest game or playing highlight reels, enjoy sampling their wines and keeping up with the game.

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Continued Research Required

So here’s a good start to get you going downtown. As well, restaurants like Ca’ Momi, Napkins, and Napa Noodles carry on into the night on weekends. I’m sure as Napa continues its break-neck growth spurt, more players will come on the scene. And we’ll just be forced to keep up our market research efforts.

-DB