In a place like Napa Valley, wowing your audience with a wine program is no easy feat. But Cindy Pawlcyn (perhaps best known for the legendary Mustards Grill, a Napa institution) and managing partner Sean Knight have managed to do that with Brassica Mediterranean Kitchen & Wine Barto, the latest addition to a lively restaurant scene in Napa, including new ventures by celebrity chefs Michael Chiarello, Masaharu Morimoto and Tyler Florence.
Locals are abuzz over the St. Helena spot’s sprawling by-the-glass wine selection, a unique wine tap system, a showcase for outstanding local wines and other promotions meant to bring wine to the forefront.
Over one year in the making and conceived by Sean Knight and g.m. Jennifer Ingellis, Brassica’s innovative wine program features 75+ wines by the glass, more than any other venue in the Napa Valley. Over 75 percent of the by the glass offerings are from California, more than half from Napa Valley. The wine selections are paired with small and large Mediterranean plates such as Eggplant Fries with Spiced Yoghurt ($6), Garlic Shrimp with Brandy and Espelette Pepper ($11) and Two Grilled Quail with Braised Figs, Port Glaze and Creamy Polenta ($28). Brassica also features an extensive bottle list with more than 400 wines that are available to purchase with dinner and also at retail.
Brassica 12 is a program featuring a dozen distinctive Napa Valley wines from some of the best and most sought-after producers, most of which don’t have tasting rooms. These 12 producers will offer multiple wines poured by the glass and rotated on a seasonal and vintage-focused basis with retail sales of the wines at Brassica. The winemakers will also actively participate in tastings and meals at the restaurant and offer barrel samples and library wines.
Another interactive feature at Brassica is the Saturday Vintner Splash, whereby winemakers and vintners will be invited to visit the restaurant and offer a small complimentary sample “splash” of their wine to diners. The visits have been so popular that they will likely be extended to Fridays as well.
If all that weren’t enough, Brassica also features a unique and original tap system, produced in St. Helena by Burgstahler Machine Works. With eight different wines on tap, the tap program will cover new territory by offering exclusive, top quality wines. The tap system keeps the wine fresh and reduces the need for packaging. Many of the wines sold this way are exclusive to the taps at Brassica. Other exclusive and high-quality offerings include Napa Valley favorites such as Markham 2009 Merlot, Cliff Lede 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Round 2 2009 Syrah Contra Costa, and the 2010 Stagliano Terzo Napa Chardonnay, which was created for the tap at Brassica.