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 a Rosé of Syrah and a Rhône-style red blend, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel.
At tastings the wines can be ordered individually by the half or full glass or 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. With a day’s notice the chef will prepare a more elaborate pairing with four wines.
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.