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Wish You Were Here

By Fran Endicott Miller

Each cork in every Brasswood Estate wine features the phrase Wish you were here. It’s a sentiment shared by Brasswood fans, who also wish they were there, opening their bottle within the large, convivial St. Helena campus, where the best of food and wine is always within arm’s reach.

Since its 2016 opening, Brasswood’s vineyards, caves, wine-making facility, sensory room, art gallery, bakery, and bar and restaurant have served as a living room of sorts for the area—a 57-acre living room with 17,000 square feet of wine caves. Known as the “wine and food village of Napa Valley,” it’s a one-stop shop, offering tastes and glimpses of the best that Northern California wine country has to offer. Brasswood’s concept is simple: celebrate the local bounty by making elegant wines, cooking delicious food, and creating a warm, welcoming space where guests can relax, slow down, and enjoy the finer things in life.

This amalgam of food, wine, and culture is the brainchild of restaurant and wine industry veterans Marcus Marquez and Stacia Dowdell. The duo met in 2012, while Marquez was opening and developing Goose & Gander in St. Helena. Their primary goal with Brasswood was to create a space in which locals felt at home and where guests’ needs and requests were anticipated. Their goal has been achieved, as an estimated 70 percent of Brasswood’s clientele live within the Valley.

Moreover, Brasswood welcomes visitors with open arms, and the restaurant’s palpable sense of community spirit provides an authentic Napa Valley experience. “Imagine you are visiting Napa for the first time, and as you bite into our luscious mozzarella al minuto, your server tells you that the wine you are enjoying was made by the person at the table next to you,” says Brasswood’s executive chef, David Nuno. “Visitors get to connect with the Valley in a way that isn’t often accessible. We are proud of that.”

The atmosphere at Brasswood Bar + Kitchen is upscale yet cozy. The sociable vibe is palpable and is accentuated by a unified hospitality team. Most of the staff have been together for years. Nuno formerly worked at Domaine Chandon under Philippe Jeanty for 17 years and at Valley favorite Tra Vigne for 11 years, and there he honed his craft for making crave-able, delicious Napa-style comfort food with an Italian flair. Brasswood menu favorites include the warm egg and Brussels sprout salad, roasted beet salad, pork and beef meatball on three cheese polenta, herb crusted lamb chop, made-from-scratch pastas, and the famous house-made mozzarella, a secret, must-have menu item. Naturally, every dish can be complemented by local and imported wines and fun, thoughtful, and creatively crafted cocktails that often feature an element from the Brasswood garden. Nuno’s illustrious background notwithstanding, working at Brasswood is his dream come true. “The great assistance from my two sous chefs and pastry chef, the excellent team we’ve put together, and being able to create my own dishes is always inspiring,” says Nuno.

“I love when our guests tell us how comfortable and welcomed they feel at Brasswood,” says Marquez. “I always strive to create a leisure atmosphere that allows everyone to soak in all of the great sensations that the restaurant and the entire property deliver.”

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