Discover Hidden Treasures from Napa’s Small, Family-Owned Vintners
More and more wine collectives are popping up around Napa Valley as small, boutique, family wineries look for brick and mortar tasting rooms to showcase their labels. The fact is, many of the micro and nano wineries that produce 3000 cases or less are often restricted by costs or permits to open a tasting room or hospitality center to host guests on their property. As a result, many of these vintners sample and sell their rare and often cult-caliber labels at a wine collective. Thus, combining forces presents a symbiotic proposition for the small vintners to showcase their wines in a single venue and for the discerning oenophile to discover some of Napa’s rare winery gems that can’t be found outside of Napa Valley. While there are many popping up around Napa Valley, here is a list with a formidable following:
Mia Carta touts itself as a destination wine collective and tasting bar featuring six Napa Valley micro-producing wineries. Its open-air, sleekly designed tasting room in downtown Napa offers patrons a choice of tables for people watching right on First Street or private alcoves for various tasting experiences. Wines are also available by the bottle, glass, or flight.
1209 First St. // www.miacartanapa.com
Participating Vintners: Art House Wines, Essere Napa, Ilsley Vineyards, RARECAT Wines, Redmon Wines, and Sciandri Family Vineyards
Rebel Vintners is a collective tasting room featuring wines from three boutique producers. All are owner and winemaker-operated, and the vintners are always on-site serving their small production wines from the best growing regions of Northern California. A daily six-wine flight includes two from each boutique producer.
1201 First St. // www.rebelvintners.com
Participating Vintners: Leaf and Vine, Uncharted, Cadle Family Wines
Reciprocity Wines is a collective launched by wine industry veterans Amanda Carder and Ann Marie Miller, with a distinctive twist—they are all online. The digital framework offers unique access to small independent producers who are passionate about making high-quality wines at reasonable prices to wine lovers everywhere. Leveraging their industry relationships and knowledge, Ann Marie and Amanda focus on making connections and matching their clients with vintners and wines that meet their preferences. The vintners they work with are small, family-owned, produce unusual and lesser-known grape varietals that are hard to find in California, and source grapes from sustainably farmed, organic and/or biodynamic vineyards. In a region where it’s hard to find wines for less than $100 a bottle, Reciprocity prides itself on promoting quality wines that are approachable to drink and buy, most with price points between $30 and $50.
1010 Napa Rd. // www.reciprocitywines.com
THE STUDIO BY FEAST IT FORWARD
Feast It Forward is a unique venue known for its eclectic approach to celebrating wine and food. The unique network live studio + experiential showroom features a multi-winery tasting room and retail shop, essentially creating a sandbox for national brands to promote and engage consumers. The wine program showcases a myriad of family-owned small wines which can be acquired and consumed by the bottle or glass. Patrons may enjoy their sips among its many interesting nooks both inside and out or in their newly expanded patio space called “The Yard,” which will host live music and local food vendors for all to enjoy.
1031 McKinstry St. // www.feastitforward.com
Participating Vintners: Acre, b. wise, Coho Wines, Coquerel Wines, Euclid Wines, Elyse Winery, Gibbs Vineyards, Layne Family Wines, Localism Wines, Mancini Di Lucca, Majuscule Wines, McKahn Family Cellars, Olette Wines, Oberon Wines
Vintner’s Collective was one of the pioneer tasting venues in downtown Napa and remains exceptional with its extensive list of wines representing over 30 small production vintners and its award-winning wine club. The two-story space occupies a historic stone building that was once a bordello with a wine bar downstairs which is open for drop-in or reserved tastings. There is also a private tasting lounge and rooftop patio upstairs. The Collective is well-known for its wine tasting and themed club events, where several vintners come out to pour, and delectable food pairings are served.
1245 Main St. // www.vintnerscollective.com
Participating Vintners: Ancien Wines, Azur Wines, Barrett & Barrett, Buoncristiani, Carte Blanche, Clark-Claudon Vineyards, Covert Estate, D Cubed, Ellman Family Vineyards, Flanagan, Hailstone, Herson Family, Hertelendy Vineyards, Julien Fayard Wines, KrisTodd Vineyards, La Sirena Wines, Longfellow, Nellcôte, Oestermann Family Wines, On Q Wines, Parallel Napa Valley, Patel, RA Harrison Family Cellars, Richard Perry, Riley’s Rows, Roy Estate, Surh Cellars, Tela, Tournesol, Vermillion, Vinoce
THE WINE THIEF
Conveniently located in the popular Oxbow corridor, The Wine Thief is a vintner-owned and operated tasting lounge focused on the little guy. The wines they serve are small production, hand-crafted, family-owned labels, each with its own story and scarcely available anywhere else in the world. The tasting room is bright, the vibe is local, and it’s a great place to meet the vintners who are often on-site.
708 1st St. // www.twtnapa.com
Participating Vintners: AJ Pearce Wines, Brace and Bit, Buoncristiani Family Winery, Correlation Wine Co., Delgadillo Cellars, Kale Wines, Lepich, Purlieu
In addition to the winery collective model, there are numerous production facility wineries that provide crush services to small vintners. Often as part of the arrangement, they also offer them access to tasting room amenities. Traditionally, the hosting winery holds the title to the site, and the independent crush partner wineries may set up private appointments to host guests and prospective customers to sample and acquire their wines on the property. In addition to the exclusive vintner tasting experience, in some cases, guests may book fellow partner vintner tastings during a visit.
Here’s a short list of production wineries with a broad range of vintner partners and labels:
Brasswood Cellars // 3111 St. Helena Hwy., St. Helena // www.brasswood.com
The Caves at Soda Canyon // 2275 Soda Canyon Rd., Napa // www.thecavesatsodacanyon.com
Fayard Winemaking // 190 Camino Oruga, Napa // www.fayardwinemaking.com
Silenus Artisan Vintners // 5225 Solano Ave., Napa // www.silenuswinery.com
Wheeler Farms // 588 Zinfandel Ln., St. Helena // www.wheelerfarmswine.com
Story By: Laura Larson