To most of the world, Sonoma and Napa are synonymous with wine. But in recent years, the region known as Wine Country has also become known as a mecca for craft beer lovers. Now, a new addition to the local beverage scene is merging wine and beer.
St. Clair Brown, a Napa winery, recently revealed that they have added a “nanobrewery” to their operations. The winery, which opened four years ago in the city of Napa, bills itself as an “urban winery,” and is nestled among culinary gardens with a greenhouse tasting room. The winery hosts music performances and locals nights, and offers wine tastings of their small production wines, which include sauvignon blanc, muscat, rosé, zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon. And now, there’s craft beer, too.
Since opening the winery in 2014, St. Clair Brown co-founder and winemaker Elaine St. Clair had dreamt of adding a brewery to the operations. A former winemaker at Domaine Chandon and former brewmaster and co-owner of Napa Ale Works, she founded St. Clair Brown with co-owner Laina Brown with the intention of creating small batch wine (they make about 1,000 cases a year) and small production craft beer.
“I’ve always wanted to get back to beer,” shares St. Clair, “If we were going to be here for the rest of our lives, I really wanted to be able to do both again.” (St. Clair holds a degree in Fermentation Science from the University of California at Davis, with a focus in both winemaking and brewing).
St. Clair Brown’s nanobrewery (“a scaled-down microbrewery”) is the first of its kind in the city of Napa, which has seen an uptick in breweries over the past few years as more locals and visitors have become thirsty for something more than wine. The brewery produces ten beers, about 60 gallons of each batch, which are bottled by hand in re-sealable Champagne bottles. The beers are unfiltered, naturally carbonated, and malt-driven, with a preference for a less bitter or heavily hopped profile.
“I’m a traditionalist in my palate choices. I want to make beers that are just wonderfully balanced,” says St. Clair.
St. Clair Brown winery serves three beers on tap, with weekly rotations through the beer lineup. Their current beer offerings include a little something for everyone: pilsner, honey wheat ale, farmhouse saison, pale ale, red ale, Scottish ale, brown ale, black IPA, porter and oatmeal stout. Tastings, glasses and growlers are offered.
St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery is located at 816 Vallejo St., Napa, CA 94559. 707-255-5591. stclairbrownwinery.com.