Northern California is home to many magical places, but when it comes to food, wine, and scenery, there’s perhaps nowhere more magical than Napa Valley.
Happiness is not a state of mind, but a trip to Napa Valley.
And though no one really needs an excuse to visit Wine Country, we’re always happy to have one, especially when it’s in the form of new places to discover and enjoy. And by “new places,” we obviously mean all the amazing new restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, and, lately, even some truly fantastic cocktail bars. If you’re looking for an excuse to venture to Napa Valley this year, here are just a few of our new favorite spots to drink and dine.
New Places to Drink Wine
If there’s one thing Napa Valley can never have too much of, it’s wineries, and here are a handful of new places to enjoy a glass or two.
Although it’s only temporary during the renovation of its iconic Oakville Estate, Robert Mondavi Winery’s Arch & Tower is a new tasting room situated inside downtown Napa‘s second-oldest commercial building. It’s been remodeled to showcase the industrial structure, complemented by many chic and opulent details. The space, where you can enjoy wine and food pairings overlooking the Napa River, is wonderfully utilized, and we’ll be bummed if it really is a short-lived endeavor.
One of our other new favorites is Mathew Bruno Rutherford Estate in, you guessed it, Rutherford. The winery’s tasting room is in a Victorian home from the 1890s, which has been renovated to preserve its charm and many of its historical features, but with a modern aesthetic. After just a few minutes there, you’ll want to move into the house, just trust.
Though the property is amazing (you can do tastings on the wrap-around porch overlooking a courtyard with 125-year-old olive trees), Mathew Bruno wouldn’t be worth mentioning if the wine weren’t also excellent. So, good news: It is.
Another exciting new wine tasting experience is Cathiard Vineyard in St. Helena, a small production winery that produces just three wines: a signature Cabernet Sauvignon and two red blends. The wines carry a premium price, so consider savoring them while exploring the 280-acre estate at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains, which includes the historically rich 1885 stone winery—rumored to be (and definitely is) haunted.
The real wine tasting excitement from the past year comes in the form of tasting rooms that are anything but conventional. The Bungalow by Gentleman Farmer, inside of a 1926 California Craftsman bungalow, intentionally does not refer to itself as a tasting room, because the tasting experience is an over-the-top (in a good way) multi-course meal with pairings (breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all offered). Eventually, the space will also be home to “salon soirées,” featuring live music, burlesque, magic, and more.
If you want great wine and Instagram opportunities, you’ll find both at Wine Girl Napa Valley, a bright and airy tasting room in downtown Napa. You’ll love the 16 rotating wines on tap (plus a bottle list, beer, and seltzer) and the pops of pink throughout, and there’s even a set of swings (ideal for all those social media snaps). The adorable tasting room is also open late: 9 p.m. on weekdays and midnight (“ish”) on Fridays and Saturdays.
New Places to Enjoy Beer and Cocktails
Napa has realized more and more in recent years that one cannot exist on wine alone; hence the opening of more spots to enjoy beer and cocktails.
Once such place is The Fink, a cocktail bar in the “old boathouse” of The Napa River Inn, where you’ll find an extensive list of creative concoctions and a decent-sized menu with bar snacks, like a single taco or a chocolate chip cookie.
If you’re craving tequila (or want to try one you may never have heard of before), head straight to downtown’s Chispa, where you can enjoy classic and creative tequila cocktails and a full menu of sharable seafood plates.
Folklore, a highly-anticipated record store, gathering place, cafe, and bar in downtown Napa, manages to do all of the above incredibly well. The cocktails are excellent, but so is the wine selection. The food (European- and French-inspired) is also delicious, and the space works well when it’s both bustling and mellow.
Last, but certainly not least, The Haven, a “secret” cocktail bar on the second floor of CIA at Copia, is the perfect place to go when you just want to chill with a classic cocktail, comfy seating, and great service. The bar has great views, as it’s on a balcony overlooking Copia’s extensive gardens; the only “problem” with that is due to weather, it’s only open seasonally.
New Restaurants to Enjoy a Delicious Meal
After a day of drinking great wine and/or cocktails, you’ll want to follow it with a mouthwatering meal or two.
One of the most exciting spots is actually a reopening—Ciccio, a beloved California-Italian restaurant in Yountville, reopened under new management after taking a pause in 2022. Chef Christopher Kostow—of The Charter Oak and the former Three-Michellin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood—has taken over in the kitchen with a new menu (but not too new) of salads, fresh pasta, and wood-fired pizza, all using ingredients from the restaurant’s farm.
Napa’s not known for its late-night dining scene, but that seems to be slowly but surely changing. See The Lincoln, a lively American Gastropub with an outdoor patio overlooking the Napa River. The Lincoln is all about its specialty cocktails (including a few zero-proof options), but the extensive food menu also delivers. There are a few salads on the menu, but let’s be honest, you’re really going to this spot for dishes like the beer cheeseburger and the short rib tacos. The Lincoln serves its full menu until 11 p.m. and a limited late-night menu until 1:30 p.m.
Entrecot, another new spot by the Napa River, may not stay open late—the kitchen closes at 9 p.m.—but that’s totally fine, because after indulging in the Argentinean restaurant’s meat-heavy menu (slow braised beef shank in Malbec sauce, anyone?) with a few empanadas to start, you’ll be ready to roll yourself straight to bed (in the best way possible).
If happily sated is your thing, you’ll also want to check out Scala Osteria, an all-day seafood-driven Southern Italian restaurant from the owners of Bistro Don Giovanni (with a late-night menu until 11 p.m.). Or head to The Village Bistro at the Meritage Resort & Spa, a pop-up-turned-permanent French-inspired eatery with a family-style menu of decadent classics like beef bourguignon and steak frites.
And, because life can’t all be eating at fancy sit-down restaurants every night (unfair, but what can you do?), Napa Valley also saw the opening of a bunch of restaurants and cafes serving more casual fare in 2023. One such place is NO|MA House Café and Collective in downtown St. Helena, a gorgeous all-day space with a cafe serving house-made pastries, tartines, and must-order lemon ricotta waffles alongside shoppable decor, accessories, and more. There’s also Winston’s Cafe & Bakery, located in downtown Napa, which bills itself as a neighborhood cafe but is worth a drive for breakfast or lunch, especially if you’re craving comforting classics with a Filipino twist.
Charlie’s in St. Helena isn’t casual per se, but it has a homey vibe, and there’s nary a white tablecloth in sight. The menu, from a former French Laundry executive sous-chef, is a play on classic American fare, and if you go on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., you can enjoy fries and caviar from the late-night menu.
Detroit-style pizza has exploded in popularity recently, and now you can also get it in Napa at Croccante Artisan Pizza, which has an extensive selection of the fermented Pan-style pizza.
Finally, when in doubt, tacos always bring joy. At Mothers Tacos, an authentic Mexico City-style taqueria, you can eat said tacos with handmade corn tortillas, homemade salsas, and meticulously marinated meats, along with vegan alternatives. Aaaand, since your stomach is already rumbling, we might as well tell you to keep an eye out for Moro, a Moroccan street food restaurant that is opening up any day now at Oxbow Public Market.
Whether you’re looking to dine on delicious cuisine, explore a new winery or vineyard, or sip a creative concoction, Napa Valley has you covered for a year filled with tons of new spots serving excellent food, wine, and cocktails. There’s never been a better time to plan a visit.