This area may be known for its world-class wine production, but one local beverage maker is taking grapes in a different direction by distilling them into Napa Valley spirits like brandy, gin, and liqueurs. Napa Valley Distillery, founded in 2009, is the valley’s first distillery since the repeal of Prohibition, and it has embraced the Old Hollywood vibe in its decor and cocktails.
Visit the distillery, only a mile from our boutique hotel in downtown Napa, where a $30 tour (reservations required) includes an explanation of the distilling process from start to finish, a tasting of the line of spirits and cocktails, and $10 off your purchase of spirits and cocktail mixers. Your tasting starts with the neutral brandy, their version of vodka, which retains much of its character in the distilling process, yet still mixes well into cocktails. Next, the Hollywood Ginn, is made with that same neutral brandy and infused with a proprietary blend of botanicals, including oak, giving it a rounded, aged sweetness. The stock at the distillery varies, so you might sample a fruit brandy made with Napa Valley-grown pears or apples, or if you’re lucky, the exclusive rum, which is aged in bourbon barrels and available only at the distillery.
After the brandy, gin, and rum is where things start to get unique. Napa Valley Distillery specializes in bottled and barrel aged cocktails, like the Brandy Sidecar, Brandy Manhattan, and Daquiri. Napa Valley Distillery’s mixologists have done all the hard work for you by creating and bottling these well-balanced versions of the classics. Aging the cocktails allows any harsh alcohol flavors to dissipated while the other flavors meld, much like how chili or pasta sauce is always better the next day. If you fall in love with a spirit or bottled cocktail, consider joining the Bar Club, a quarterly membership that delivers a box of the distillery’s products to your door.
If an organized tour of these Napa Valley spirits isn’t your style, head to the tasting room in the Oxbow Public Market to sample the distillery’s spirits and cocktails. In addition to the distillery’s own products, the shop includes a staggering array of cocktail mixers and ingredients like syrups, shrubs, bitters, and garnishes. Stock up on supplies for your home bar or pick up the perfect gift for the cocktail aficionado in your life. You’ll love this distillery’s take on the Napa Valley’s most famous agricultural product.
Distillery and Grand Tasting Salon, 2485 Stockton St., Napa, California 94559
Oxbow Tasting Salon and Bar Shop (at the Oxbow Public Market), 610 1st Street #8, Napa, California 94559