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.
For the past two weeks, Santa Rosa streets have been lined with Pliny pilgrims eagerly awaiting a sip on Russian River’s most coveted brew. While this February frenzy has become a cherished annual event for many, standing in line for five plus hours is not for everyone. If you lack the patience necessary to taste Pliny the Younger or didn’t get a chance to try the famous beer this year, we have picked out five Sonoma County brews you may not have heard (as much) about but that are just as good and definitely worth seeking out. Click through the gallery above for all the details.
This Sunday, the Patriots face off against the Eagles for Super Bowl XXXIX. If you want to pair the game (and the halftime show) with some socializing, snacks and brews, we’ve lined up the best Sonoma County sports bars and beer venues to watch the drama unfold – swipe through the slideshow above for all the details. Did we miss one of your favorite spots for watching Super Bowl? Let us know in the comments.
The beer community quickly jumped on board and the dinner was a sellout -at $65 per ticket – one hundred percent of the money from the ticket sales was donated; $6,500 was raised that night. 100 beer, food, and wine lovers packed into the cellar at Cooperage Brewery for a family-style meal made by Peloton Culinary and their many talented chefs who volunteered their time to be there. Chef and owner Tim Vallery of Peloton Culinary said that all of his team working the event had jumped at the opportunity to volunteer to work this event,
“when asked, I thought some would decline because it isn’t exactly the best time of year for folks, but all of my servers and chefs didn’t blink, they said yes and came to help happily. It was truly amazing. I am proud to be a part of such a loving community and blessed to call these people my team.”
This beer dinner paved the way for the raffle; people generously purchased tickets at the brewery, at Beer Craft, and online as well as put cash in the barrel. What started as a beer raffle turned into over fifteen worthy prize lots. People and businesses from the North Bay donated unique beers, cases of aged beer verticals, cases of wine, tasting experiences, beer paired dinners, and schwag. The San Francisco Giants supported by donating an autographed players jersey as well as other signed memorabilia that is only available directly from the Giants franchise.
On December 1st, Tyler Smith, owner of Cooperage Brewery, broke open the barrel to find that people had put in $1,836 in cash alone. That night the raffle was called in sections giving people more opportunities to purchase tickets. In the end, just about $17,000 was raised between the dinner and raffle. The grand prize was an “Ultimate Instant Beer Cellar” which consisted of over 60 aged, rare and hard to find beers along with three 3 liters of Russian River Brewing Company’s sours (these sours are bottled in small quantities and sell out quickly thus are very sought after). The winner, Matt Chappell, a local man came down to collect his winnings and expressed that he intended to gift this cellar to a friend who lost his home and business in the fire.
“Sonoma means family and family takes care of their own. I learned that our dear friend Dario D’Costa lost his family’s home, business and an extensive beer collection in the fires. It was the Monday night of the fires and Dario, his two sisters and father met at the Local Barrel in Santa Rosa. I watched in admiration as Dario’s father looked at his children and took a sip of beer and stated,
‘We came from worse. We will rebuild.’
That very week I heard of the raffle at Cooperage and went there with the sole purpose of purchasing tickets on behalf of Dario. When I received the call I thought of only one thing – our friend.” said Chappell. He plans to gift this cellar to D’Costa at the Local Barrel this week.
There isn’t a single person who hasn’t been affected by these wildfires – many lost homes, childhood pictures, collections, treasures – but the energy and persistence to rebuild Sonoma County is what is driving all of us now. It is through the compassion and out pour of generosity of this community that will help keep Sonoma County strong.
As assistance for Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino County fire evacuees continues to pour in – truckload after truckload – some shelters are beginning to turn away donations due to oversupply on some items and limitations of space. The challenge is to match the items donated with the specific needs of fire victims.
The space inside the Roaring Donkey has become a pop-up clearinghouse of sorts, where items received are organized by type. Over a dozen volunteers move at a quick pace to keep up with the deliveries from cars and trucks arriving continuously at the Kentucky Street bar. Once sorted, items are delivered to particular shelters where a matching need has been communicated.
Volunteers at the Roaring Donkey say they’re currently overloaded with donated clothing, which requires lots of volunteer-power to sort. There is, however, a great need for new items: new-in-the-package underwear (including teen bras), Ziplock bags of collected new toiletries, plastic bins (for use as “footlockers”), glass-free packaged food, and gift cards to fill in the gaps. Volunteers are needed to organize donations.
“Every time we empty one (truck), we end up getting more,” says volunteer, Tara Lanatti, a student and instructional aide, who learned of the need for volunteers after driving by the pub.
School supplies, being stored at Maguire’s pub, are delivered to Xandex Inc.’s office space at 1360 Redwood Way, where they are organized by the Active 20-30 Club in partnership with Petaluma-based Mentor Me program.
Megan McClelland, Active 20-30 Club volunteer and counselor at Petaluma High School, beamed as she told of the hundreds of new backpacks that arrived from individuals as well as from Camelbak and Jansport. The drop-off on Redwood Way has been visited by “an insane amount of people,” she says. “It’s awesome community here.”
Active 20-30 Club volunteers say they are well stocked with pencils and pens, but there’s a need for three-ring binders, graphing calculators, lunch boxes, pencil pouches and backpacks.
Roaring Donkey co-owner, Brian Tatko, who could only stop briefly while carrying a large box of delivery-bound donations, said they will be accepting goods on Saturday and Sunday until about 3 or 4 p.m. at which point they have to tend to their regular business as a bar, music venue and gathering place.
How to help: Jamison’s Roaring Donkey is located at 146 Kentucky St. in Petaluma. The Active 20-30 Club will be accepting donations at Xandex at 1360 Redwood Way in Petaluma on Saturday, October 14 until 2 p.m. Please check The Roaring Donkey’s Facebook page and Petaluma 20-30 Club’s Facebook page for updates. Keep in mind that needs are constantly changing. For more ways to support fire victims, click here.