Mendocino Brewing closes its doors

One of nation’s original craft breweries has closed its doors, according to a report in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. The company has been struggling financially for the past few years. It also closed the Saratoga Brewing Company that it owned in New York.

The brewery, which was founded in Hopland, California, in 1983, was the second brewpub in the nation to be opened since Prohibition. You can find more of its story in this related WineCountryBeer article.

Sonoma County brewers pitch in following wild fires

Russian River Brewing Company and other breweries pitched in to help fire victims in Sonoma County through the Sonoma Pride effort. A very good video on the project is found at this link.

Napa’s St. Clair Brown satisfies both beer & wine lovers

St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery is an urban winery and nano-brewery located on Vallejo Street in the city of Napa. It currently operates a 4-barrel brewing system and offers its beer on tap by-the-glass or in flights. In a little different twist, the brewery also bottles it’s beer in resealable 750 ml Champagne bottles.

Co-owner Elaine St. Clair leads the brewing program here. This U.C. Davis Fermentation Science grad is accomplished in both winemaking and brewing. Back in the 1990’s, St. Clair co-owned the nationally distributed, Napa Ale Works in the Napa Valley. In the mid-2000 her career shifted to wine making, but her involvement in St. Clair Brown now allows her to do both brewing and wine making.

The brewery tends to specialize in approachable, classic styles such and Pilsner, Honey Wheat Ale, Red Ale, and Oatmeal Stout. For equal-opportunity beer and wine drinkers, it’s a good choice.

Tannery Bend Beerworks opens in Napa

Tannery Bend Beerworks opened in early 2017 and already produced nearly two dozen different craft beers by that autumn. From a White IPA to Oktoberfest, the brewry is not afraid to try its hand a just about any beer style. This new, small-batch brewery is creating plenty of beer enthusiasm in the the city of Napa. Head brewer Matt Cromwell, who formerly worked at worked at Silverado Brewing Company and Napa Smith Brewery in Napa County, is also a Siebel Institute grad. He loves incorporating local products into “new interpretations of traditional styles.” The brewery also offers a creative restaurant side featuring lots of fresh local ingredients. Check out their website for more information. (Complimentary photo at right by Kali Kirschman)

Calistoga Inn & Brewery rises from the ashes

On August 28, 2012, an early morning fire at Calistoga Inn and Brewery left it seriously damaged and closed. Roughly one year later, the Calistoga Inn opened its doors again. The hotel, brewery, bar and restaurant are open for business, and northern Napa County is better off for them.

While it was closed for repairs, locals and wine country tourists alike missed this favorite watering hole and are excited to see that brewmaster Brad Smisloff worked late into the evenings to rebuild the inventory for thirsty beer drinkers. Craft beer tourists to northern Napa Valley are again be able to sample his very fine local brews. MORE..

Brewery closing tough on local beer in Napa Valley

On Sunday, November 25, 2012, the popular Silverado Brewing Company in St. Helena closed its doors after its landlord decided to repurpose the building housing its operations.

This closing strikes a real blow to local beer in northern Napa County. Silverado Brewing Company was also known for the excellent food at its restaurant. It was a fun, casual location frequented by Napa Valley wine industry folks, tourists, and many area residents. You could, without exception, count on receiving an above average meal and a solid pint of ale for a fair price.

In operation for 13 years, Silverado Brewing Company was a staple along Highway 29 just north of St. Helena. Brewer and co-proprietor Ken Mee produced a delicious set of popular beer styles that paired well with the restaurant’s creative casual cuisine. They had a beautiful location, a great bar scene, and were known for good local entertainment and for hosting charitable events and special beer-pairing dinners.

We can only hope that Silverado’s brewmaster Ken Mee resurfaces in a new brewery operation somewhere else nearby. Napa Valley residents and tourists alike need more local beer.

Norgrove races Bear Republic to the forefront

Bear Republic Brewing Company began as a modest Healdsburg brewpub but is now a growing production brewery with a stellar national reputation. It’s a brewery that primarily caters to the today’s craft beer drinker, to lovers of hoppy West Coast ales. But it is also experimental, pushing the envelope in ways only wine country brewers can.

Brewmaster Ricardo Norgrove says his area is saturated with great wineries — “I think the last time I checked there were 84 wineries with a Healdsburg address,” he explains. — but Bear Republic is the only brewery in this little wine town. His location gives Norgrove the perfect vantage point to expound on what it means to be a brewer in wine country. 


Wine heritage alive at Firestone Walker Brewing Company

According to brewmaster Matt Brynildson, wine and beer
connections are alive and well at California's prestigious Firestone Walker Brewing Company. And a lot of wine country connections there are.

Co-founder Adam Firestone's family has been making wine commercially for nearly 40 years. Although they sold their namesake Firestone Vineyards winery back in 2007, family members still own and operate the Curtis Winery in Santa Ynez. Even today, both Adam Firestone and his brewery partner David Walker live on vineyards properties.

The brewery itself sits in the midst of serious wine country.  MORE...


Wine Country Beer—tourist guide to great craft beer in California wine country

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Carneros Brewing Opens

The Carneros Brewing Company has opened on the Sonoma side of Carneros off Highway 12 & 121 at 22985 Burndale Road. Owned by brothers Armando, Pedro, Jesus, and Manuel Ceja, the brewery will initially focus on easy drinking yet flavorful craft beer styles. Stop in, say hello, and enjoy their craft brews. More info at:

The Mendocino Loop

Not only does the Mendocino Loop take you to great breweries and wineries, but also to great scenery, both inland and coastal. Quaint little towns with laid back, interesting locals who are as hospitable as the day is long. You’ll notice the pace here is a bit more relaxed than that in the relative metropolises over in Sonoma and Napa counties. Details, suggested stops and itineraries...

Wine Country Beer People

A series that lets wine country brewers tell what it’s like to make beer in the heart of wine country..

Discover Craft Beer History

A Wine Country visit offers the opportunity to reach back into craft beer history with New Albion Brewing Company.

It’s much more than Oktoberfest Autumn and fall seasonal beers shine across California Wine Country this year. Check them out.

Similarities of Beer, Wine
A Wine Country visit is the perfect time to look more closely at the similarities and differences of beer and wine making

Napa Smith Brewing Company

Napa Smith is brewing some wonderful beers in the heart of one of the world’s most-renowned wine producing regions. Their philosophy of success leads them to do the uncommon thing.

From the Editor’s Glass

To view a great bunch of photos of some of the breweries we have visited, go to the Wine Country Beer Facebook page and click on the Photos tab.


Please Drive Responsibly

When visiting the breweries and wineries of California wine country, if you are driving, please do so responsibly.

Alcohol impairment info from California DMV website

Wine Country Beer Self Guided Tours

Even though much better known as a fine wine destination, the wine country regions of northern and central California are also a craft beer wonderland. Wine Country Beer explores some of the places, culture and history that make wine country also such great beer country. Use this guide to locate and tour these incredible artisan breweries.

We celebrate the fantastic flavors created at the great local breweries of California wine country.



Wine enthusiasts appreciate

complex layered flavors, and that is something craft beer has plenty of. The best place to start exploring craft beer is right in the heart of California wine country.

Wine Country Beer North Coast

Tour Stops

Your guide to finding great craft beer in California wine country

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