Napa Valley Fiim Festival marquee Credit: DoNapa/NVFF

In downtown Napa, book a wine tasting experience at Alpha Omega Collective, just across the street from the Archer hotel. One of a handful of new tasting salons to open in downtown Napa this year, it’s where you can sip Bordeaux-inspired releases from Alpha Omega in Napa Valley; Burgundian varietals Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Tolosa in San Luis Obispo’s Edna Valley; and, Mediterranean reds from Perinet in Spain’s Priorat.

When I traveled from San Francisco to stay in downtown Napa for the 2014 Napa Valley Film Festival, downtown Napa was a lackluster destination, despite a handful of amazing restaurants. Look at downtown Napa now! Chic hotels, swank tasting rooms, upscale rooftop bars, new, delectable eateries, and a vibrant night scene have revitalized this once-sleepy area which was rarely noticed by visitors heading up valley to Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga.

With the ninth annual Napa Valley Film Festival, a cultural celebration immersed in the art of film, food, and wine, presented by the non-profit organization Cinema Napa Valley, taking center stage throughout Napa Valley from Nov. 13-17, I’d like to share with you my playlist for downtown Napa.

Archer Hotel Napa, Credit: Archer Hotel Napa

Stay at the Archer Hotel Napa on bustling First Street, where you can relax in front of a firepit at the fashionable Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar or enjoy a private balcony experience on a chilly, fall night or dine at Charlie Palmer Steak on the lobby level.

Alpha Omega Collective, Credit: Alpha Omega Collective

Book a wine tasting experience at Alpha Omega Collective, just across the street from the Archer hotel. One of a handful of new tasting salons to open in downtown Napa this year, it’s where you can sip Bordeaux-inspired releases from Alpha Omega in Napa Valley; Burgundian varietals Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Tolosa in San Luis Obispo’s Edna Valley; and, Mediterranean reds from Perinet in Spain’s Priorat. The timeless tasting lounge also offers culinary creations whipped up by Chef Brent Pennington of Pennington Provisions. His scrumptious, gourmet-to-go dishes can be ordered from Dutch Door Napa on the Randolph Street side of the Alpha Omega Collective.

Alpha Omega Collective Downtown single vineyard wines, Credit: Alpha Omega Collective

Other 2019 additions to the downtown Napa wine tasting map include Mayacamas Downtown, WALT Napa Oxbow, and Housley Napa Valley, the last owned by Napa native and former journalist Adam Housley and his actress wife, Tamera Darvette Mowry-Housley.

Hal Yamashita Napa, Credit: Hal Yamashita Napa

Downtown Napa now overflows with Japanese-influenced eateries. Morimoto Napa and Eiko’s have been popular for nearly a decade. In 2016, Miminashi debuted as Napa Valley’s first izakaya, followed by Michelin-starred Kenzo Napa where seasonal, Japanese Kaiseki cuisine created with ingredients flown in daily from Japan are paired with sakes and wines from around the world. This month, Master Chef Hal Yamashita officially opens his eponymous restaurant featuring robata cuisine on Main Street.

On the same Main Street block as Hal is Gran Electrica, the Napa spinoff of the buzzy Brooklyn Mexican spot presenting regional street eats, wine, and cocktails as pretty as they are tasty. It’s no wonder this haute spot made Michelin’s 2019 Bib Gourmands list. Further south on Main Street is the 4-month-old AVOW, an ultra-cool, tri-level restaurant, lounge, and bar serving delicious bar bites until midnight. For foodies on the hunt for something truly unique, Le Petit Chef: 3D Dining Experience pairs art projection technology with fine dining during an immersive, 2-hour, 6-course dinner at CIA at Copia, which itself is a wonderful addition to downtown Napa. The intimate setting at Blue Note Napa, wine country’s version of the quintessential Greenwich Village jazz club, makes this 3-year-old spot, which also serves gourmet food, my favorite live music venue in downtown Napa.

Downtown Napa Riverfront, Credit: DoNapa

There are so many choices of things to do in downtown Napa: check out Feast It Forward and Napa Art Walk, take a gondola ride on the Napa River, and power walk off calories along the picturesque Napa Riverfront promenade. Napa Valley Film Festival-goers may now have to squeeze in time to watch the phenomenal films scheduled. I hope to see you at the festival. Cheers!

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