Photo: Tom Robertson/Shutterstock

How To Take the Wine Country Trip Dreams Are Made of Without Leaving Downtown Napa

Napa Wine Restaurants + Bars Insider Guides
by Clementine Affana Dec 7, 2023

In 1836, George Calvert Yount planted the first wine grapes in the Napa region. Wild grapes grew in the area, but Yount saw the potential for winemaking, and subsequent settlers followed suit with their own vineyards, including traditional European vitis vinifera grapevines.

More than 180 years later, Napa Valley is renowned as one of the best viticulture regions in the world. Having survived the phylloxera pest infestation that devastated vines around the world, Prohibition, and the changing whims of consumers, this wine paradise is home to outstanding winemakers, stunning landscapes, and incredible food.

napa river

Photo: Downtown Napa

Napa has long been a place where people go to get out into the vineyards themselves. And there’s certainly no shortage to choose from with more than 400 wineries in the region. But if you’d rather skip the driving and walk from tasting to tasting, it’s easy to try some of the best Napa wines in downtown tasting rooms (as well as California brandy, if you’re looking for something stronger).

Downtown Napa wine tasting rooms you don’t want to miss

With more than 50 wineries located in the heart of the city, you can spend days just figuring out where to go. These are the ones you don’t want to miss.

Acumen Wine Gallery

Acumen produces some of the highest quality estate-grown wines (meaning the team grows their own grapes instead of sourcing from other vineyards) in Napa that reflect the the terroir of the region. The vineyards, primarily growing cabernet sauvignon as well as sauvignon blanc, are located on Atlas Peak, which is defined by volcanic soil and high elevation perfect for wine grapes and gives the bottles a distinctly rich, deep, and complex flavor. The highlight are the two signature collections led by famed winemaker Phillip Titus: the soft and elegant PEAK collection and the vibrant Mountainside collection.

Walking through the tasting room in downtown Napa makes you feel like you are in an exquisite art museum thanks to curated local art. Here, visitors can learn more about the history of the winery, as well as its sustainable practices that help to minimize the impact on the integrity of the land.

Acumen Wine Gallery: 1315 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

Vermeil Wines

Vermeil Wines is famous for its reds (cabernet sauvignon, grenache, and cabernet franc) and its whites (chardonnay and sauvignon blanc). The brand was founded by Dick Vermeil, a football coach and wine aficionado who invested in the local wine making industry in 1999. It also makes balanced, harmonious Bordeaux-style blends. The winery also carries a sense of sustainability and legacy in the winemaking industry. It sources grapes from vineyards run and managed by families who have been in the grape farming industry for 100 years.

Vermeil Wines: 1018 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

Levendi Winery

Levendi Winery is another reputable winery downtown Napa, known for its legendary history in producing great cabernet sauvignon. At the Levendi vineyards, each grape is meticulously hand-harvested and aged primarily in French-oak barrels, which contributes to the wines’ full-bodied flavors and deep complexity. Here, the focus is single vineyard wines, and a comparative tasting allows visitors to learn the nuances of different terroirs within Napa Valley. Levendi wines are produced in small quantities and limited editions, which adds a personal touch to the collections crafted by this family owned and operated winery.

Levendi Winery: 1465 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

Mia Carta Napa

A boutique, modern, and elegant wine tasting room at the heart of downtown Napa, Mia Carta is an excellent option if you are looking for an intimate experience. Mia Carta features small production, Napa-based wineries with founders who are either born in Napa or have deep ties to the region. Each of the winemakers has a different style that bring different flavors to each wine tasting experience, making it suitable for a wide variety of guests. Depending on when you go, you might even be lucky to spot some of the winemakers at the tasting room, and they could share their history in the winemaking industry directly. You can taste flights of four, five, or nine red and white wines ranging from signature pinot noirs to chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons — all made sustainably at vineyards such as Art House, Essere Franco, and Sciandri Family Vineyards.

Mia Carta Napa: 1209 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

New Frontier Wines Co.

New Frontier Wines Co. is a novel wine tasting room downtown Napa that offers a wide portfolio of wines from the finest terroirs in and out of California. New Frontier Wines works with an exquisite team of wine makers from around the world: Michel Rolland, Philippe Melka, Maayan Koschitzky, Matt Sands, Alberto Antonini, Joe Shebl, and Juan Pablo Murgia). With vineyards from both Napa and other corners of the world, New Frontier Wines Co. truly aims to make excellent wine available to local and international wine lovers who come to visit Napa. And as every good story is always told around some good wine, the downtown Napa tasting room reflects the convivial ambiance one would have if sitting around a fire. The wine tasting experience at New Frontier Wines Co. takes advantage of its homey setting to learn about the different wines and regions in comfort.

The signature wine, the 2017 Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, is made from hand-sourced grapes grown from lithology estate vineyards, and represents a masterful expression of the perfect Napa Valley cabernet. This wine was put together by Napa wine legend Philippe Melka and renowned Bordeaux-based oenologist Michel Rolland.

New Frontier Wines Co.: 1040 Main St #101, Napa, CA 94559

Be Bubbly

Everyone who goes to Napa for excellent wine should also know about the only wine tasting room downtown Napa that specializes in Champagne and other sparkling wines. Be Bubbly offers different flights of wine and champagne tastings that feature selections from Napa, France, and around the world. In honor of the women who pioneered the Champagne industry, Be Bubbly offers a special flight of Champagne tasting featuring the Veuve Clicquot’s Rosé Reserve, Champagne Pommery Brut Royal, and a Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée. The tastings can be paired with flights of Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, adding a fancy touch to this elevated experience. If you want to keep the party going, opt for one of the Boujee Bubbly Brunch experiences, which includes a seasonal frittata and muffin with fresh fruit from Monday Bakery, a local favorite downtown Napa.

Be Bubbly: 1407 2nd St, Napa, CA 94559

Wine Girl Napa Valley

wine girl napa in downtown napa

Photo: Wine Girl Napa

Wine Girl Napa Valley brings a modern, vibrant, and trendy experience to downtown Napa wine tasting. Along with the wine itself, this tasting room prioritizes chic and friendly decor with Instagram-worthy photo backdrops and cute props that you can use to capture the moment with every sip. This is your wine tasting destination if you are looking for a lighthearted experience, especially for a girls day out, bachelorette party, or to celebrate a special occasion.

Wine Girl Napa Valley: 1321 1st St Suite A, Napa, CA 94559

Where to eat in downtown Napa

Morimoto Napa

Created by celebrity Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, this restaurant exudes culinary innovation with a fusion of traditional Japanese cuisine and Western flavors. Morimoto Napa offers refreshing Japanese delicacies within a modern, open, and elegant Californian ambiance at the heart of Napa. Make the stop to try different types of sushi for an hour or two in between your wine tastings. Don’t forget to sample the wide varieties of sake.

Morimoto Napa: 610 Main St, Napa, CA 94559

Tarla Mediterranean Bar + Grill

Inspired by cuisine from Greece and Turkey, Tarla specializes in grilled shareable dishes in mezze-style dining, encouraging social and communicable experiences. Locally sourced seasonal ingredients take the spotlight. You can’t go wrong with the grilled octopus salad as an appetizer and the grilled salmon as a main. Those with a sweet tooth can indulge in the baklava. In the warm summer months or early fall, sit at the outdoor patio to elevate your dining experience while soaking in the atmosphere of downtown Napa, al fresco.

Tarla Mediterranean Bar + Grill: 1480 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

Scala Osteria & Bar

fish and dishes at scala osteria in downtown napa

Photo: Scala Osteria

Scala Osteria takes the exquisite flavors from coastal Italy to Napa Valley. Centered around southern Italian seafood recipes with Mediterranean and California influences, the restaurant draws on traditional Italian osterias (a type of restaurants that serves excellent food and wine to patrons in a relaxed setting), and the recipes are rooted in traditional recipes from Mama Concetta, the mother of the restaurant’s founder Giovanni de Scala. Whether you opt for an modern upscale dish or a traditional seafood pasta, you will feel the Italian-inspired and California-infused flavors in every bite. Scala Osteria is also one of the only restaurants in downtown Napa open late.

Scala Osteria & Bar: 1141 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

Angèle Restaurant & Bar

Opened in 2002, Angèle will transport you to the countryside of France. It’s located in the historic district of Napa Valley on the banks of Napa River, which creates an idyllic atmosphere. This is one of the most popular restaurants downtown Napa. The menu offers a fusion of Northern California flavors through a French culinary lens, and adds classic French delicacies such as escargot, onion soup, and ragout. Whether you stop here for lunch or dinner, you’re in for a culturally infused culinary experience.

Angèle Restaurant & Bar: 540 Main St, Napa, CA 94559

The Oxbow Public Market

The Oxbow Public Market is a great location to explore the culinary diversity of downtown Napa. People travel to Napa for unique culinary experiences, and at the Oxbow Market you can have such eclectic experiences all under one roof, and for a smaller budget than at the restaurants. This market offers a diverse array of flavors from gourmet restaurants and casual eateries alike. It’s the ideal spot to sit and eat in between wine tastings downtown Napa. The market also features wine tasting rooms where you can sample different wines from the region. If you are in for a mexican-style treat, stop at C CASA Restaurant & Bar Napa for the biggest (and most filling) tacos you can have in Napa Valley.

The Oxbow Public Market: 610 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

Kitchen Door

If the most comforting meals come from your mom’s kitchen, the second best come from Kitchen Door. The idea behind this hearty restaurant was to create comfort food that’s satisfying and appeals to everyone without high prices. The restaurant was originally located in the Oxbow Public Market when it opened in 2011, then relocated to another location downtown Napa in 2022 to serve more locals and visitors. The international menu is inspired by the founder’s upbringing and culinary experiences traveling and working in Europe and New York. Because of the large portions, you’re guaranteed to leave satisfied. Local favorites include the banh mi and Korean-style ribs. If in doubt, always ask for the chef recommendation.

Kitchen Door: 1300 1st St Suite 272, Napa, CA 94559

Where to stay in Napa

River Terrace Inn

An excellent accommodation option when visiting Downtown Napa, especially for first time visitors. Because downtown Napa is so walkable and most restaurants and wine tasting rooms are a few minutes away from each other, it’s convenient to stay somewhere close to the action. This casual and elegant inn is only a 15 minute walk from downtown Napa, or a five minute drive. It offers the perfect blend of city hospitality within a naturally green ecosystem overlooking the scenic Napa River. The luxurious guest rooms are spacious and airy, giving you ample space to move around and take in the relaxed feeling of wine country.

This property also elevates the sustainability experience for guests by providing amenities such as water refill stations, complimentary bike rental for guests to explore the city for an hour, and a 24/7 fitness center with Peloton classes for the more active travelers.

River Terrace Inn: 1600 Soscol Ave, Napa, CA 94559

What to do in downtown Napa when you’re not drinking wine

Explore the Napa Art Walk

The Napa ARTwalk is a public community engagement program that features local art around downtown Napa. As you walk through the city, you can admire discrete rotating outdoor sculptures and art installations along the pedestrian routes. This adds color to downtown Napa while promoting the local artisans. You can admire these sculptures at prominent sites around the city as you stroll through the Napa streets, or use a map (downloadable online) to locate featured art sculptures and their location throughout downtown.

Napa Art Walk: Various locations

Stroll through RAD (Rail Arts District) Napa

RAD Napa was created in 2016 as a free outdoor museum along a two-mile stretch that runs through downtown Napa on the route of the Napa Wine Train. The district features wall paintings, sculptures, and murals from more than 20 local and international artists. The district occasionally hosts community events such as art fairs and cultural festivals to encourage locals and visitors to connect to the natural beauty of the region.

RAD Napa: 816 Vallejo St, Napa, CA 94559

Shop Californian art at Gallery 1870

Whether you’re an art connoisseur or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of talented artists, a stop at Gallery 1870 downtown Napa is a must during your visit. Previously located in Yountville, the gallery recently moved to downtown Napa and features some of the best local artists in the state. A stop at this gallery is a great way to learn more about the art of painting through different artistic movements and to appreciate how artists bring events of daily life to the canvas one brushstroke at the time. Featured artists include Pete Tillack (philosophical symbolism), Eric Christensen (hyperrealism in watercolor), Chandler (contemporary realism), Patrick Rourke (romantic realism) and Isabelle Dupuy (3D impressionism).

Gallery 1870: 1270 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

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