Napa Valley duo created an urban winery, then added beer.
Winemaker Elaine St. Clair and business partner Laina Brown started their operation as an “urban winery.” True enough: St. Clair Brown is steps north of Downtown Napa in a light-industrial area in view of car-parts and auto-body shops. But the vibe here is more rustic than this description implies. Tastings take place in a culinary garden with vegetables, herbs, and dozens of espalier-trellised fruit trees.
Small-Lot Wines, Tasty Small Bites
St. Clair’s small-lot wines – only about 200 cases of each are produced – include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Muscat whites. The winery makes Rosé of Syrah, a Rhône-style red blend, and a Merlot-Syrah blend, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel.
At tastings the wines can be ordered individually by the bottle or sampled in a flight of four. All pair well with the tasty small plates, among them hummus, a cheese board, and the signature almonds roasted with Meyer lemon oil and seasoned with organic lemon zest and herbs from the garden.
Enter St. Clair Brown Beer
In 2017, St. Clair Brown opened a microbrewery. Turns out that for her fermentation-science degree at U.C. Davis, Elaine St. Clair focused on brewing as well as winemaking. Three of her naturally carbonated beers, which are sold in sparkling-wine bottles, are always on tap at the greenhouse for tasting by the flight, glass, or bottle.
St. Clair Brown is open for tastings from Thursday through Sunday.
Why go: easy-going feel; straightforward yet complex wines; tasty small bites.
What to Do
This story originally appeared online in 2017; it was fact-checked and updated in mid-2020.