Arriving to many of Napa Valley’s top destinations involve bucolic drives down through vineyards to arrive at outdoor patios. Not so for the new tasting room of Brown Estate, named Brown Downtown, which offers up a fresh new way to enjoy Napa, thanks to top San Francisco designer, Catherine Kwong.

Established as a winery in 1996, Brown Estate’s history goes much deeper. Dr. Brown and his wife originally purchased land in Napa to serve as a family farm and a place to eventually retire. They planted a few acres of grapes, which they sold to other wineries, but it wasn’t until the next generation took over the farming that siblings Deneen, David, and Coral realized they needed to make their own wine. Today Brown Estate is the first and only black-owned estate winery in California’s Napa Valley, and one of the region’s most highly-regarded zinfandel producers.

The family farm, including an on-site tasting room, is still the heart and soul of the business, but Brown Downtown offers a different way to experience Brown’s excellent wines. Located on the second floor of the Old Napa Register Building, which housed the local newspaper from 1905 to 1965, the space had been damaged in the 2014 earthquake but the historic details remained. Catherine carefully preserved the space’s high ceilings and double-hung windows and brought in modern furnishings to create a space appropriate for a city tasting room. While the side entrance and elevator to the second floor add an air of speakeasy exclusivity, once inside the feeling is that of a welcoming host. Within the open room, there are two separate marble-clad bars and a lounge seating area perfect for opening a bottle to share with friends. Meet us there?

See more of Brown Downtown in the slideshow!