Erin Riley may be Chief Bubblehead now, but before Be Bubbly was born, she had another “child” to attend to. Erin cites her daughter’s imminent departure for college as the impetus for creation of Be Bubbly, Napa’s newest and only sparkling wine bar and shop. As her daughter contemplated the big move to university, Erin wondered, “What next?”

The answer came surprisingly quickly: She loved Champagne and sparkling wines. As the former buyer for Napa Valley Wine Train, Erin was well familiar with what wines were available (or not) in America’s best-known wine town. With her wine industry friends lamenting the dearth of bubbly wine in Napa, Erin knew she’d found her next adventure: bringing bubbles to Napa Valley.

With partner Alison Barstad joining Erin for the podcast, we sat down virtually (with Erin and Alison in the Be Bubbly Wine Bar, and everyone on Zoom) to learn about their just-launched tasting room, wine club and offerings.

First, Alison and Erin tasted us through their Michel Gonet Brut Reserve Champagne NV, part of their always-evolving Champagne & Sparkling Wine menu. Fresh, with notes of almond, this was a great Champagne to kick off our wee celebration. (Given the strenuous nature of 2020 – hello, COVID-19 – we all agreed a bit of bubbly improved the day enormously.)

Next, Erin shared what may have been their final bottle (at least in that shipment) of Caraccioli Cellars’  2014 Brut Rosé. This complex, méthode champenoise, sparkling wine hails from (wait for it) Santa Lucia Highlands! Made by Michel Salgues, formerly head winemaker with Roederer Estate, this wine kept revealing itself long after we completed recording.

As we enjoyed their wines, we learned a lot about opening a wine bar in the midst of a pandemic. Perpetually looking on the bright side, Erin told us the initial closing of restaurants and bars gave them the opportunity to tweak their business model. Alison seconded her partner’s assertion. She has a long history of launching and running hospitality venues with extensive wine, beer and cocktail lists. (They even offer a variety of sparkling wine cocktail recipes on their website.) And Alison made it clear that the additional time provided by the pandemic to tweak everything was sorely appreciated.

They revealed that many distributors were so excited by a Champagne/Sparkling Wine-centered establishment opening in Napa, they had much to offer them for their menu that many restaurants and wine bars wouldn’t consider without the bubbles focus. Can there be too much of a good thing? Evidently not when it comes to bubbly wine.

Tune in to learn about this just-opened wine bar and its extensive offerings (including beer and still wine), pairings, events and their Bubblehead Wine Club. (And be sure to stop in for a socially-distanced glass after work!)

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