Downtown Napa Is the Place to Go for Wine Tastings, Food and Fun

Park your car and make downtown Napa your next wine tasting destination, with an array of tasting rooms, bars, restaurants and shops within easy walking distance.

When visiting Napa Valley, there are hundreds of wineries and tasting rooms to choose from. Planning a trip requires coordinating various logistics, including where to taste, eat and stay.

Many visitors now make downtown Napa their destination, drawn by the city’s revitalization and array of new restaurants and cocktail bars.

One of the benefits of making the city of Napa your focus is that it is walkable ― you can just stroll from your accommodations or your parked car to the downtown tasting rooms, bars, restaurants and shops, each promising a memorable experience.

Here are four downtown tasting rooms ― some new, some perennial favorites ― to add to your trip itinerary.

Family-friendly tastings at MaCo Vineyards

MaCo Vineyards recently opened a tasting room in downtown Napa and continues to offer visitors a great tasting experience. Just in time for summer, they have added an outdoor patio, which borders Napa’s riverfront.

“It’s a game changer to get to share our story and wine overlooking the Oxbow Commons,” said General Manager Alvaro Camacho.

MaCo Vineyards was founded in 1980 by friends Roberto Corona and Jesus Maciel (the company name is a fusion of the first two letters of their last names).

Today, the winery has its own label that is sold both in the U.S. and abroad. Its family-friendly tasting room and patio is a great place to bring kids, the wines are approachable in price and the chic interior space lends itself to relaxed indoor tastings on a hot day. The tasting room also hosts special events, such as last year’s Super Bowl party.

1000 Main St., Suite 190, Napa. 707-373-2346,

The Vermeil Wines tasting room in downtown Napa. (Cody Krantz)
The Vermeil Wines tasting room in downtown Napa. (Cody Krantz)
The Vermeil Wines tasting room in downtown Napa. (Cody Krantz)
The Vermeil Wines tasting room in downtown Napa. (Cody Krantz)

Pair football and wine at Vermeil

On the topic of football, the transition from summer to fall is an ideal time to explore downtown Napa as things cool down, both in terms of temperature and visitors. But this is also the time of college football and the beginning of the NFL season.

Thankfully, there is room for both wine lovers and football fans in downtown Napa, especially at Vermeil Wines, owned by Hall of Fame coach Dick Vermeil, whose family has been making wine for over 100 years.

“If it’s sports, it’s on,” said Vermeil General Manager Andrew Curry. (The tasting room has two TVs for a premier viewing experience.)

The Vermeil Wines tasting room is located off the bustling First Street, with both indoor and outdoor spaces. They offer a variety of tasting experiences, wine by the glass, and private food and wine experiences.

“Whether you are looking for an elegant place to watch the game on Sunday, or a fully immersive wine experience, Vermeil is your place,” said Curry.

1018 First St., Napa. 707-254-9881,

A serene garden experience at St. Clair Brown

If sports on big screen TVs isn’t your wine tasting vibe, perhaps a serene garden experience is?

At St. Clair Brown in downtown Napa, you can sip wine surrounded by flowers, trees, and produce that makes up the tasting room menu.

“Our culinary garden sits on a third of an acre. It features over 60 fruit trees, edible flowers, herbs and seasonal raised beds, which we grow for our food menu and garden drinks” said president and co-owner Laina Brown.

St. Clair Brown is a jack-of-all-trades destination: a boutique urban winery, nanobrewery and culinary garden. Founded in 2010 by Brown and winemaker/brewmaster Elaine St. Clair —colleagues and lifelong friends — it has been a beacon of craftsmanship and camaraderie since its inception.

“We see a lot of people visiting from the Bay Area and from out of state because we offer a wide range of experiences, including wine, beer and a full range of housemade, nonalcoholic garden drinks, as well as an organic garden-to-table food menu that is mostly vegan. There is something for everyone,” said Brown.

They are also set up to accommodate various types of tastings.

“Our wines and beers are served by the tasting flight, glass, or table bottle. We even have a zero-proof garden drink flight, which offers a special experience for designated drivers or non-drinkers. Everything we serve is made onsite in the city of Napa,” explained Brown.

816 Vallejo St., Napa. 707-255-5591,

Sip wine and beer in the serene culinary gardens at St. Clair Brown in downtown Napa. (St. Clair Brown)
The Cadet Wine + Beer Bar in downtown Napa. (Cadet Wine + Beer Bar)

The best of both worlds at Cadet Wine + Beer Bar

Cadet Wine + Beer Bar is another popular place to taste in downtown Napa. This establishment ― known among locals as the cool place to go after 10 p.m. ― allows guests to embark on a journey through the wine and beer worlds.

“So much of our growth has been facilitated through word of mouth, from those who frequent Cadet or who once visited and look forward to coming back. Our weekly Winemaker Wednesday series is just one example of the type of tastings we offer, highlighting vintners and winemakers from around the world and giving guests an opportunity to engage with their friends, peers and idols,” said Aubrey Bailey, co-owner of Cadet.

The inclusive space welcomes locals and tourists alike and offers an ever-evolving menu of food and drinks. Whether you prefer rare Champagne, California wines or beer in a can, you’ll find it all on the menu, even the humble grilled cheese, occasionally.

930 Franklin St., Napa. 707-224-4400,