The Wine Thief is a multi-vintner tasting room located on the corner of First and McKinstry Streets across from the Oxbow Public Market just east of downtown Napa. This is a partnership between two individuals: Andrew Renda (former Director of Sales at the nearby Vintner’s Collective) and Garrett Ahnfeldt, proprietor of G Wine Cellars. This tasting room features a select group of mostly Napa Valley based vintner partners. Contractor Todd Richter was responsible for creating much of the interior design inside the tasting room including the beautiful cabinets.
Andrew was introduced to wine while working in restaurants in the Boston area. He eventually worked at wine shops before he and his girlfriend at the time – sold mostly everything they owned, quit their respective jobs and drove across country to the Napa Valley (without any jobs lined up). Within several weeks Andrew had secured a job at Vintner’s Collective in downtown Napa (a long-time collective featuring wines from mostly boutique Napa Valley based producers). While working at Vintner’s Collective Andy was introduced to the owners of numerous mostly small Napa producers including Garrett. Both had talked about collaborating on a project – and when this space was mentioned to Garrett as being on the market, the timing was right to create a partnership and establish this wine collective.
The vintners represented here are small – usually in the 500 cases to 3,000 cases range. These producers focus on high quality limited production wines and unless you work in the Napa wine industry are names you generally will not have heard of. The focus of the wines offered are Cabernet Sauvignon and red wines – but there are several whites available, Pinot Noir and a rosé. The wines are available at a wide range of price points.
To succeed in Napa as a collective, strong relationships between vintner partners is a necessary criterion. The vintners represented all know each other and, in some cases, have been friends for years. Another important factor is the location of the tasting room; this is a prime corner spot in a busy part of Napa – there are also several other neighboring tasting rooms. Over the years the Oxbow District has developed into a viable wine and food region within walking distance of downtown Napa. Its original success was tied to both the openings of what was the COPIA Food and Wine Center at the time (now owned by the Culinary Institute of America) and later, the Oxbow Public Market.
How come the name “wine thief”? Andy and Garrett were having lunch across the street on the patio at Kitchen Door Restaurant in the Oxbow Public Market and realized their tasting room had been under construction for some time, but they still were without a name. Brainstorming for a while they touched on a number of common names that collectives often take – but then Garrett suggested Wine Thief. It is a catchy name to someone outside of the industry who perhaps isn’t aware of the winery tool by the same name – and is also appealing to those who work within the industry.
In line with the name of the tasting room, they have amassed an impressive yet tiny collection of wine thief’s from around Napa Valley and beyond – including some unique as well as historical thief’s. One of their more unique wine thief acquisitions was a large bulbous wine thief dating from the 1880s. Part of their collection includes wine thief’s signed by Napa winemakers.
Also note the lighting fixtures – these were hand blown by a Hawaiian artist who is also a professor at the University of Hawaii.
The Wine Thief offers a variety of tasting options for visitors. Wines are available simply by walking in and choosing from two flights at the tasting counter (by the taste, by the half glass or by the glass). The flights offer either four or six wines, but these are not set wines – rather are based on the variety of wines available at any given time by the multiple producers. Customers can often pick out certain wines to try – or let one of the hosts choose the wines based on personal preferences in taste and wine styles. Private tastings can be arranged by making an appointment in advance.
The Wine Thief values the social aspects of visits – several couches are available as well as a community table where visitors can share wines and experiences with visiting ‘neighbors’. One axiom we have found mostly true over years of working in the wine and hospitality industry is if there is a chance you will meet someone from your home state or even hometown, it will happen in the Napa Valley. An ideal question to ask at this table (a common question among visitors who do not know each other but share a common interest in wine) is, “what are some of your Napa Valley favorite wineries?”
Appointments can also be made to try the current release of any of the wines from the represented vintners in one of the two private rooms on site.
Along with other tasting rooms that have opened in the valley in the past few years, a culinary aspect can be a part of the experience here. A small commercial kitchen is on site and small plates are created by sourcing from local producers to pair charcuterie and tasty treats with their wines (available only for the private tastings).
The Wine Thief also maintains their own wine club called The Thick as Thieves club – with membership options offering access to a number of services including their concierge, access to select wines from the vintner members and access to an annual member’s only golf tournament at the nearby Silverado Country Club.
For more information, to join their wine club or to schedule a private and personalized tasting, visit: www.thewinethiefnapa.com
The Wine Thief, Napa
The Find, Danville
Note: this space permanently closed in June of 2022; we keep our notes here for historical reference. In March 2020, The Find opened in a new building in downtown Danville (about 45-to-60-minute drive from The Wine Thief depending on traffic). This wine bar offers a rare chance to taste very limited production wines from some of the Napa Valley’s finer boutique producers. While not directly associated with The Wine Thief – The Find was created through existing relationships integral at both spaces.
Founded by three partners, including Andrew, winemaker Jason Moore (Modus Operandi) and Louis Calli, (Sommelier, wine buyer & proprietor of Alinda Wine). The original concept came from one of the vintners represented here, Kale Wines. One of Kale’s wine club members kept asking Kale when he was going to open his own tasting room. Kale never had plans to open a tasting room but then this member mentioned a property in Danville he might want to take a look at. Kale told Andrew about this and long story short, they decided to create a space outside of Napa Valley showcasing wines primarily from Napa Valley based producers.
Spacious, contemporary and very inviting – guests were able to opt to sit at the counter or relax in a number of other seating spaces. Wines were ordered by the bottle or by the glass. The wood used in the bar and for the small tables came from a single Black Walnut tree that had to be taken down after the 2017 fires in Napa/Sonoma. A private room could be reserved for more intimate tastings – the centerpiece in this room was a table with an intriguing glass outline of part the Napa River as it winds its way through Oakville.
Small bites were available including several boards with a variety of cheese and small bites, vintner favorites (select dishes from Napa based restaurants) and a number of other delicious small plates. Louis used to work for the Boisset Collection; when reviewing foods to include in their menu he contacted Jean Charles Boisset for ideas. Louis sampled a number of items from JCB’s former Atelier Fine Foods in Yountville, some of which made it onto their menu.
During a visit we tried the Calamari in Ragout – admittedly the best seafood we have ever eaten from a tin. And for some sweet bites, The Find provided select chocolates made by Kollar Chocolates in Yountville. NOTE: The Find permanently closed in June 2022; the space may be converted to another business such as a member’s only club. We will update our notes here once we find out more details. We keep our notes and photographs here for historical purposes.