I wanted to visit Brown Downtown Napa for a very long time. I’ve been to Napa a few times and was always on a tight schedule, but on my most recent visit, I made a point to go, and with some assistance from their team, I was able to secure an afternoon tasting at their Back Bar! Yahoo! FINALLY!
Located on the second floor of the Beckstoffer Building (which has a story of its own: it was once the local newspaper headquarters), Brown Downtown Napa’s tasting room is worth a visit without the wine. When you come upstairs, it’s as if you’ve arrived at someone’ cool loft apartment in the city, or maybe even an exclusive social club, except the ambiance is inviting and the staff is ultra welcoming upon entry. That’s why I had to add them to my favorite places to eat and drink in Downtown Napa list!
I knew that Brown was Napa Valley’s first Black-owned estate wine label but I didn’t realize just how much family is the driving force behind the Brown Brand.
The land that is now the Brown Estate Winery was purchased in 1980 (thinking of retirement) and for years, the Brown’s grew grapes and sold them off to winemakers in the valley until they began making their own wine in 1996.
While Dr. and Mrs. Brown have retired, their three children are taking the label to the next level. Brother David is the winegrower, sister Deneen serves as the winery’s president, and sister Coral is the Director of Brand Management. For me, Brown uncovered the idea of bringing emotion to my every taste.
Simply stated: The wine is excellent. The ambiance is modern and cozy. The service is impeccable and you’ll leave feeling like you’re a part of the family.
Brown Downtown Napa Tastings
Brown Downtown Napa has a lounge and a little bit of a speakeasy feel, except it’s a cozy and light-filled space, perfect for tastings with your honey or a group of friends. There are two tasting experiences to choose: The Back Bar and the Flight Bar.
The Back Bar experience is a formal tasting and is exclusive during the weekdays. You are guided through a handful of wines with small bite pairings for each. The Flight Bar is much more laid-back, with four wines to taste informally.
I am sure both are wonderful, but having had the Back Bar experience I cannot recommend anything else. It was fantastic. I couldn’t believe how well matched the flavors of each small bite was to each wine I enjoyed.
- 2016 Rosemary’s Block Zinfandel, named after a relative (and I bought a bottle!)
- 2016 Mickey’s Block Zinfandel, named after a relative
- 2016 Chiles Valley Zinfandel, made with smaller grapes grown in a cooler area between Lake Berryessa and Lake Hennessy
- 2016 Petite Sirah, which is deep, dry, with a little black pepper essence
- 2007 Duppy Conqueror Port, fantastic with the lemon bar pairing
If there’s any way you can get down there on a weekday, do it. If you can’t, you will not be disappointed at all. I’m just a history buff and learning about the Brown’s process and appreciating the passion behind it was so intriguing.
Brown Downtown Napa offers tastings every day, starting at 11:30 am with the last pour at 6 pm.
Reservations are recommended Monday through Friday and they are a must on weekends.
BROWN DOWNTOWN NAPA
1005 Coombs Street
Make your way to Brown Downtown Napa as soon as possible. You won’t regret it! Don’t forget to tell them that Kachet sent you!