02-10-2017

Napa’s newest wine bar, Compline, opens

It’s something like 15 years now since I was working full time for a Napa Valley winery and back then, I was lucky enough to based in San Francisco for most my work. I say “lucky” because I had to go up to Napa every week for meetings and the such. This may seem dreamy to many but once we’d get through business, the meetings would usually devolve into a bitchfest about the actual town of Napa.

You see, most anyone who works in Napa Valley and isn’t fortunate to own one of the grand 19th century homes you see dotted along sceninc Highway 29, usually lives in Napa proper. No one was ever terribly happy about that as Napa was a sleepy town that seems to have had wine fame reluctantly thrust upon it. Despite the whole “Judgment of Paris” happening some two and a half decades prior to my being in the area regularly, no one really did anything in Napa short of sleep there. The food and wine bar scene was most definitely lacking and for me, the town was little more than three or four exits that got in my way of arriving to the winery in Rutherfod.

Things have most definitely changed which has been nice to see given that Napa actually has some charming parts to it. There are a number of good restaurants in the town and the wine bar offer has readily expanded. Now adding its presence to that is Compline.

I have to admit that I want to read that “comp-line” but it’s actually “comp-lin” which, when visiting it just after its soft opening last month, I found out is the last night prayer for monks. They named it as such in wanting to pay tribute to the monks who are responsible for starting California’s winemaking some four centuries ago.

The project is the work of Matt Stamp MS and Ryan Stetins, two sommeliers of many years of experience. Matt had actually been off the floor for awhile doing what many with the Master Sommelier title do which is, education. The reason that he got back on the saddle is that this opportunity to be an anchor tenant of a new downtown renovation project on First Street came to them and he realized that he could double up the wine bar and restaurant as an education space as well.

They are now officially open and welcoming in all those who pass through Napa’s namesake town. As there are other wine bars in the downtown, their premise is on being the place to go if you actually don’t want only $50 Napa wines. Sure, they have a good selection of those among their 300 bottle inventory, but they’re trying to focus more on everyday wines from many regions. And then there’s the shop which will have a rotating offer of bottles around the $15-30 mark. The rotating aspect is something that’s very much the thing to do these days in modern wine bars and for good reason as it allows a newer generation the ability to explore more given that many of us don’t want to drink the same thing every night.

As you can see by the photos, the interior is modern and hip with a small outdoor space for wineing and dining as well. There’s the shop at the entrance with the bar behind it and the main dining space off to the left, which also double as Matt’s educational playground. His idea is to have classes there virtually every day and I don’t doubt it as he was the education director for GuildSomm prior to polishing up his gold and red lapel pin with this new venture.

I’ll be very happy to pass by the next time in Napa and see how things have progressed, not just for Compline, but for the spaces around them which should all be available and open in the next few months. Long live Napa Downtown? Perhaps the day has come.