Brasswood Estate: A Local St. Helena Treasure
Nestled in the heart of St. Helena, there is more to Brasswood Estate than one might initially realize. On the property, not only do they have a tasting room for their wines and a restaurant where they serve delicious food, but they’re also home to a bakery, extensive man-made cave system, custom crush facility, beautiful event space, a bottle shop with rare wines and liquors, and numerous well-curated spaces to sit and sip your wine.
Approximately 50 acres in size, Brasswood Estate surprisingly nestles two different Napa sub-appellations: Spring Mountain and St Helena. Founded by husband-and-wife team Edwin and Stacia Williams, Stacia handles the winemaking on site. Stacia originally worked in the software industry, where the wine bug bit her for the first time. After spending some time looking for the right property and getting her degree in Enology and Viticulture at California State University, Fresno, the couple stumbled upon Cairdean Vineyards, whose name has recently been changed to Brasswood. Napa was the first wine region the couple visited together, so it was only natural that they return to the area to open their own.
Stacia believes that winemaking is a combination of art and science, In her own words saying that, “The art aspect includes designing the winery and the label and relying on your palate to create something unique, while the science helps ensure the wine is stable and keeps your palate in check. However, they both are equally important and you must rely on both to create a successful winery.” At Brasswood, she produces Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, among other varietals and blends.
Brasswood Bar & Kitchen
At night the Brasswood restaurant comes alive, filled with locals and wine-industry insiders. During my first visit, we were seated at the bar next to an amazing female winemaker whose Pinot Noir had just been picked up for their by-the-glass menu. Over a shared bottle in celebration, we were told we just had to order the warm mozzarella. And O-M-G. Yes, yes indeed. If you are in the St. Helena area and don’t stop here for this dish, you might be committing a mortal sin. It’s that impossibly good. Their entire menu is a beautiful ode to food — you’re bound to be delighted with whatever you decide to order.
Brasswood Bar & Bakery
Featuring fresh pastries, a number of creative soups and salads and other locally prepared cuisine, the Brasswood Bakery is an easy and delicious place to stop and grab a snack while out wine tasting (or working, if you’re a local!) I’ve heard top choices include their beet salad, and that their fried chicken is among the best in Napa Valley, although I have yet to personally try these (don’t worry… I’m working on changing that soon!)
Not only do they offer quick to grab items to go, but longer to serve items can be ordered from their nearby kitchen. If you’re in the mood for additional shots of liquor, one can order a “boozy milkshake” or additional drinks with some ‘kick’ to them! Limited indoor seating is available as well as a larger outdoor seating under a shaded covering next to an outdoor fireplace and several trellised grapevines. It’s gorgeous!
Brasswood Wine Tasting
If you’re visiting Brasswood for a wine tasting, the main tasting room is a stylish space with comfortable seated areas and a chic bar. They recommend appointments, but also take walk-ins. They offer an extensive list of tasting experiences, depending on what you’re looking for. The Signature Tasting takes place in the main tasting room; the Gallery Tasting guides you through their beautiful collection of art work; The Den Tasting seats you in a private, cozy room with a fireplace; The Sensory Experience introduces an interactive adventure designed to add a new dimension to wine tasting; The Cave Tour will walk you through their winery and the production process. You can view their full list of offerings with descriptions on their site here.
Brasswood Sensory Experience
To expand upon the Sensory Experience, this is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen offered at a winery. In a private, chic room is a long table ready for tasting, surrounded by black leather chairs; on the wall behind it is a stunning array of plants, fruits, wood chips, flowers, sea shells … anything and everything you might smell in a wine. Inside glass terrariums, these aroma indicators are arranged to describe particular wines. For example, while we were there, there was one labelled “Sauvignon Blanc” filled with grass, white flowers, lemon, lime, grapefruit, and slate. Another, this one labelled “Chardonnay” included a beautiful curation of white roses, pineapple, pears, apples, bread, and wet stones. From both a visual and an aromatic perspective, this room is absolutely stunning. It also brings to light the aromas one could expect to find in a really interesting and visually appealing way that is more memorable than anything I’ve ever seen before.
Brasswood Wine Caves
Designed by Brasswood’s prior associate winemaker Cody Stacey and the family, the Brasswood Wine Caves feature three tunnels, of which the main tunnel is one of the largest single tunnels of any wine cave in Napa Valley – both in height and width. Unlike many wine caves that drill through nearly solid rock, this cave was drilled through soft sediment and alluvial soils. As most wine caves do, it remains a constant 59 degrees, perfect for storing wine during the delicate winemaking processes.
A lot of thought went into its design; parts of the cave can be isolated for temperature control during fermentation as needed and the cave tour route for visitors was designed to avoid the often busy production facilities.
I could go on forever...
I could wax on poetically for days about my experience at Brasswood, but the most important takeaway here is just GO. Go and experience for yourself. Whether that be for an event in their beautiful event space, for dinner at their amazing restaurant, for any of their numerous wine-tasting experiences, or simply to grab a pastry from their bakery, this is the place to be. Also, eat the mozzarella. Lots of mozzarella.