Indulge In Wine Bar Greatness At New Napa Hot Spot Compline

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Compline in Napa
Compline in Napa

Photo Credit: Kali Kirschman

What are the qualities that make a wine bar great? First, an interesting and excellent selection of wine, preferably one that changes frequently, so that regular customers are encouraged to try new things. Second, an atmosphere that is cozy, warm, and inviting—with intimate nooks and cranies. It must be a space that is ideal for lingering over a compelling conversation.

Wine and food at Compline
Wine and food at Compline

Photo Credit: Kali Kirschman

A delicious menu of food, specifically dishes that pair well with wine and are easy to share, is a prerequisite. Friendly, welcoming, and knowledgeable staff that is not snobby or pretentious is also a crucial quality. Educational elements like seminars, winemaker events, and exotic tastings are an added bonus. A superb selection of bottles to take home is another plus. If you’re scratching your head, wondering where such a wine bar exists, allow me to assure that it does. Specifically at Compline, a charming new destination in downtown Napa.

Compline's owners Ryan Stetins and Matt Stamp
Compline’s owners Ryan Stetins and Matt Stamp

Photo Credit: Kali Kirschman

The wine bar opened last fall and has quietly and quickly become a favorite of locals, new and old. Compline is the brainchild of Ryan Stetins, a former wine director at Charlie Trotter, and Matt Stamp, a master sommelier who worked at the French Laundry, so the young duo know a thing or two about hospitality and wine. “We wanted to create someplace we wanted to go—a laid-back place to drink cool wines,” Stetins explains. “As we refined the concept, Compline evolved into what it is today: A restaurant and wine bar, bottle shop, and center for wine education. But the part about drinking kick ass-wines in a beautiful space? That’s never changed.”

Compline sells a curated assortment of wines by the bottle
Compline sells a curated assortment of wines by the bottle

Photo Credit: Kali Kirschman

Compline’s 300-bottle wine list is a world tour of varietals including wine that celebrates the Napa Valley and other beloved regions from across the globe. The retail wine selection is a more curated list with 100 wines, featuring many of Stamp and Stetins’ personal favorites. “Our wine bar list has plenty of local finds, as well as a generous collection of other domestic and international bottles,” says Stamp. “Our retail is really designed for both locals and visitors hunting for new finds, new grapes, and new experiences beyond our little corner of the world.” The for-sale bottles are moderately priced between $15-30. This is on purpose—Stamp and Stetins want their clients to be able to try as many wines as possible and to learn as much as they can.

Compline's dining room
Compline’s dining room

Photo Credit: Kali Kirschman

Education is Stamp’s jam, he personally teaches all of the classes at Compline. Every other Monday, he hosts a 90-minute seminar that explores a new corner of the wine world such as the white wines of Austria and Ribera del Duero. The event, which is geared to industry professionals and serious wine students, consists of a lecture, discussion, and tasting of eight wines.

Chef Yancy Windsperger
Chef Yancy Windsperger

Photo Credit: Kali Kirschman

On Friday and Saturdays, Stamp teaches a more basic class meant to jumpstart one’s interest in wine knowledge. A selection of local wines are tasted and Stamp talks you through the structure, body, tannin, acid, aromas, and all the nuances that go into winemaking. Sunday nights there is a fun blind tasting menu where aficionados can taste four different wines and try to figure out what it is they’re drinking.

Compline's gougeres
Compline’s gougeres

Photo Credit: Kali Kirschman

As for the food, chef Yancy Windsperger oversees the kitchen. Compared to the wine list, the menu feels minimalist, but there is something for everyone and everything is scrumptious. There are snacks like duck fat fries and crudités. Pillowy and light classic gougeres are covered in a dusting of freshly shaved cheese. Starters include a savory medley of mushrooms with sunny-side up egg, chicken thighs with apple mustard, and farm vegetable salad.

Pork stew, crispy bread and a glass of Listán red wine
Pork stew, crispy bread and a glass of Listán red wine

Main courses are crowd-pleasing and traditional. There’s a New York strip steak for two with pureed cauliflower, grilled whole fish for two, braised pork, half chicken, and a cheeseburger. Nightly specials are also offered, so be sure to check with your waiter. On one recent visit Winsperger served a sensational ricotta gnudi coated in a flavorful tomato sauce. Desserts are simple, but luscious—think chocolate brownie with mint and sweet cream or buttermilk panna cotta with huckleberry compote.

Stamps behind the bar at Compline
Stamps behind the bar at Compline

Photo Credit: Kali Kirschman

With Compline, Stetins and Stamp achieve what many people attempt to do and fail. They’ve created the ideal wine bar, one worth visiting over and over again.

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