In Napa, a Nearly 30-Year-Old Ordinance Deterred Wineries from Creating Restaurants

But some wineries are introducing gourmet dining nonetheless.

It’s impossible not to visit Napa and get pulled into the romance of winemaking. The vineyards, the stately tasting rooms, the delicious parings … all an inherit part of the Valley experience. What you won’t find in most Napa wineries is a kitchen. The reason dates back to a 1990 regulation called the Winery Definition Ordinance.

Essentially, wineries are forbidden to make a profit on any kind of event that doesn’t promote wine sales. And thus, no winery restaurants. That goes for pairings as well. Any cost associated with food preparation, from equipment to product to service, must be picked up at the expense of the owner.

According to a story in Mic, “Wineries are finally seeing the value in creating educational food and wine tastings where the food is just as much the star. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is one of the few places that can rationalize this kind of endeavor. Legendary for its award-winning cabernet sauvignon, the winery is one of the valley’s biggest draws. In July, chef Travis Westrope, a self-professed “culinary mercenary” of Napa Valley, settled down at Stag’s Leap and formed The Cellarius Kitchen Experience (just don’t call it a restaurant—visitors tour the caves and the property as well.)”

Will Napa see the potential for epicurean adventure and repeal the law? Or will other wineries foot the bill and find beneficial workarounds? Read more about the evolving Napa dining scene here.