*Cues Solange’s Almeda* “Pour my drank, drank. Sip, sip, sip, sip. Brown liquor, brown skin, brown face, brown leather, brown sugar, brown leaves, brown keys, black skin, black braids. These are black-owned things.”
In the heat of this magnificent movement to unapologetically support black owned tings, I knew making a stop to the first and only Black-owned estate winery in California’s Napa Valley was a must. Never having been to Napa Valley, I didn’t have many expectations or even know the in’s and out’s of planning a visit to Napa Valley, but between a quick google search and a cousin who resides in Oakland, CA, I was quickly able to figure things out.
After first learning about Brown Estate via their new partnership with my favs, Delta Airlines, I visited their website to get a quick synopsis on who they are and to determine if a reservation was needed and if so, how to go about securing one. Brown Estate is a family owned vineyard, established in 1996, best known for producing outstanding Zinfandels, alongside their Cabs, Sauvignons and Chardonnays. Established by the parents, the children now manage and run the entire business as they continue to grow and expand. When booking a visit to Brown you have two options:
The Brown Estate Winery, which requires a membership, would provide a more typical Napa Valley experience. Strolling through beautiful vineyards, feeling the grapes, the soil, talking with the winemakers, in the middle of the action. Unfortunately, due to recent flooding, the winery is currently not operating, but stay tuned to their website for any updates or changes.
There are three levels of membership at Brown, the California Club, Library Club and Estate Club. I did not sign up for a membership, but as a self-proclaimed connoisseur, I am still contemplating. Aside from access to the winery, membership provides sampling/complimentary tastings of new wines, monthly deliveries, discounts amongst other benefits dependent upon membership level. Find out more HERE.
Via the website, I made a reservation for three to visit the Brown Downtown Napa location, the other way to visit Brown Estates. Downtown Napa, Napa’s best kept secret, is a super cute shopping area filled with tasting rooms, small shops and gourmet restaurants. The Brown tasting room downtown provides what I am expecting is a different experience than the vineyards, but a pleasant one nonetheless. There are three options to choose from in the tasting room: flight bar, back bar or communal table. Based on our party size and the day we were visiting, Sunday, the Flight Bar was our best option. We were able to choose from three different flights, $40-50 dollars each, and offered a cheese bar once there for a small charge.
The sommelier who helped us during our visit was extremely knowledgeable, attentive and friendly. There were three of us in my party and we each had chose a different flight and were all impressed with the different vines we tasted. I opted for the intro Flight as I tend to lean more towards full-bodied Cabernets or fruity yet dry Rosés. My favorite of the wines was definitely the Brown Recluse, but despite me enjoying what I tasted, I did not purchase any bottles to bring back with me.
The aesthetic of the tasting room was also pleasing, from the layout, colors and furniture. They keep the lights relatively dim which provides for a nice ambience as you’re chatting with your friends and sipping your wine. There is a small area where you can pick up souvenirs, coasters, books, t-shirts or the fabulous glass that is used for all of their tastings. You also, obviously, have the option to pick up any of the wines that you tried or ones that caught your eye to bring back home with you.
Definitely make a reservation on their website if you wish to visit the tasting room.
Getting to Napa Valley: If like me, you plan to stay in San Francisco, you will have to figure out a way to get to Napa. Downtown Napa or the infamous Napa Valley vineyards are not too far apart, so no matter which you are visiting, you’ll still need a game plan. Located in Northern California, Napa sits about 70 miles outside of San Francisco. You can rent a car and drive to Napa, my cousin had a car so we were luckily able to drive with her. Public transportation is also an option, catching the ferry at the Ferry building and then the Vine bus. Or, you can use a private car/bus/limo service, we saw several of these on our journey to Brown. Find more details on transportation options HERE.
During my next visit to San Francisco, which I loved it so much that there will most definitely be a second, third and fourth visit, I plan to visit the actual vineyards next time as well. My trip was short this time and I really wanted to check out Brown’s downtown tasting room, but will plan to visit both areas on my next trip.
Planning a trip to San Francisco for the first time? Check out my post on my time there HERE.